Favorite Cycling Routes: South Yungas (Bolivia)

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This green and very hilly route will take you up and over two 4,700m passes as well as over smaller ones in the almost jungle-like vegetation for a total of 10,000m of elevation gain. The people are friendly and welcoming, and the villages are picturesque as they sit atop hills for as far as the eye can see all over the various valleys. We found this route to be difficult due to the heat and humidity, though it was a nice change from the high altitude cold nights.

Distance: 400km (Konani to La Paz).
Time needed: 7-10 days.
Highlights: Small towns in the hills, different food, friendly people.
Road surface: Unpaved but not bad except for small sections of mud.
Traffic: Not much until Chulumani to La Paz.
Best season: May-September (dry season); Completed June 2014.
Water/food availability: Easy
Solo female: No problem.
Overall difficulty: Moderate; probably more difficult in the wet season due to the heat/humidity.

Camping

It was really hard to find wild camping (except on the two highest passes) because of all the hills. We ended up camping one night on a football field, one night in an “emergency camping spot” right next to the road, and another night on someone’s roof/patio. We stayed in alojamientos for the most part because it was easier (3$-6$/night/person).

Budget

Ten dollars a day along this route will get you meals out whenever you are in town, and a cheap local room in the villages with accommodation as well.

Notes

We started on the South Yungas route by riding from Oruro to Konani on the flat and easy highway (which goes from Oruro to La Paz) for 80km. Then from Konani we turned off the main road and onto the road headed towards Quime.

We found it quite hot and humid under 2,000m as we had previously spent weeks on the much cooler altiplano, and I would highly suggest bug spray (or long sleeves) as there were little nasty yellow butting bugs at the lower altitudes.

Resources

The Pikes on Bikes are definitely the go to on this one; they have elevation graphs, route descriptions, and step by step directions as to where to turn and where to find water along this very green hilly route.

My blog entries throughout this route:
Passes and Canyons, Sun and Snow
Switchbacks and Soccer Fields
Coca Leaves and Rain

Feel free to comment with your own thoughts, corrections, or updates in order to help others looking to complete this route too.

For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

9 thoughts on “Favorite Cycling Routes: South Yungas (Bolivia)

  1. Amazing photos! We plan on heading to South America next year cycling, and I really want to cycle through Bolivia. I’ve been there before, backpacking, but I think experiencing it on a bike will be even more rewarding.

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