Tatiana Sanabria wrote for Pagina Siete, regarding the trip the History channel crew took not so long ago:
Six experienced drivers from United States and Canada suggested “challenge the death from a truck”, and for this what better to pass through the “most dangerous road in the world”, the “highway of death” boasts Yungas. Or at least try.
The challenge was to bring cargo from La Paz to Rurrenabaque in three trucks – left in couples – was part of the deadly routes, a program from History Channel, which aired last Sunday in primetime.
Four of the reckless drivers reached the target without much suffering and after cope with experiences for them unimaginable, but for the other two the mission was too much.
Arriving at Caranavi, when the more rugged stretch had already passed, Lisa Kelly, the only woman, and Dave Redman gave up.
Scared but sure that this was the only way to place their lives “safe” – as confessed before the cameras – truckers abandoned the truck while his teammates continued – not without some hardships – to the finish in Rurrenabaque town, where they left construction material for the victims of the flood.
“There is a very thin line between trying to dominate the road and overcome fear and die,” said Kelly, the 32 years old trucker, who – like their peers – knew how to pave the Himalayan mountains, the tracks of ice in Alaska and earth trails of the India, and other previous destinations.
It registers an average of 209 accidents and 96 deaths per year, precisely because of its difficulty, the “road of death”, was chosen for the start of the season 2012 fatal routes.
“Once on the road, there is no going back.” “A path of three meters wide is the only available place where they circulate large trucks of up to three axes,” commented the Narrator introducing the challenge.
Hugh Rowland and Rick Yemm are two rough truck drivers with more than 20 years of experience.They were the first to leave, despite the difficulties, showed his prowess behind the wheel and arrived at destination, but not before more than once confess their fear and impression of the “incredible” Bolivian geography.
“It’s the beauty of death.” “There is no place in the world that looks like this,” commented Rick while enjoying the vegetation and Cascades that fall in the middle of the narrow road.
Tino Rodriguez and Tim Zickhur, novices in this type of enterprises pilots, dominated the fear still undaunted by the countless crosses that, during the journey, realize the deaths leads the way with unusual frequency.
Before arriving in the country, Rodriguez had only led modern trailers by paved highways of California, and his colleague had to be an expert in loading docks.
In turn, the two handled “in the dark” by the edge of the cliff. They ignored their fears, pressed the accelerator and continued to the finish line.
“If you have any doubts, accelerate”, advised in laughs truck driver Hugh, who spend glued to the wall broke the right mirror and dent the body of a huge truck. “Is said that in this place they threw political prisoners to the precipice, a few decades ago,” added the Narrator to give still greater framework of suspense.
It was a sudden and devastating experience for Lisa. The fright invaded in such a way that about halfway she handed the steering wheel to Dave. “It is worse than I thought.” “Never had appreciated so much life as now”, she said.
Arriving the night, penetrating darkness joined the list of adversities. Without seeing the precipice of up to 600 metres in the deepest parts, drivers felt the risk with greater intensity.
And in the most inopportune way, taxis and trucks in the middle of the narrow trail encountering increased adrenaline and despair. Either way, to step back and pray for the fragile road to resist.
Who ever went through this route knows the vehicle towards Yungas should step back and give way to the next upload. A lack of precision minimum can be decisive. [there are portions of this road where you have to drive like in Great Britain, using the other side of the road or you will be hit in the next curve…]
“If you fall, you’re lost, nobody will know you’re there,” said Dave at the wheel, while progressed brushing with another truck.
After arriving in Caranavi, the journey that awaited for them to the Bolivian Amazon was ultimately easier.
Already in San Buenaventura, to cross the Beni river, the surviving trailers rose slowly and carefully on a balsa wood left on the other side.
“Never in my life I imagined that it would cross the River on a raft.” “This is incredible,” said Tino with great satisfaction.
And it is for those of you who are not accustomed, to survive the “road of death” is an achievement that lingers in the memory; an extreme adventure which further revalued the expertise of the Bolivian driver.
When I was teenager, I went to Yungas on the back of one of those trucks, what I remember is that every time we were going to cross with another truck, all the people on board hid and at the time of crossing we would throw all the harmless garbage or rotten fruit we would find, and so did the others. It was fun and no one told me, I did as I watched. One of the people who were ridding with me had a beard and with the dust and orange he was hit on his face, he looked very funny. At that time in my life, I wasn’t aware of the danger of this road. Another thing I cherish is the view of a condor flying below me, from a trip I took to north Yungas from Ulla Ulla National Park, amazing to see a condor from above, as he was flying well below where I was.
Because of all the above, the road from La Paz to Yungas made it to: The Hall of Bolivian Fame!!