Bolivia’s El Camino de la Muerte (which translates as Road of Death) is not the most relaxing of tourist highlights. But there are plenty of brave adventurers willing to see if they can cheat Ic-z muerte.
This road links the Andean mountains above the capital La Paz with the town of Coroico. It is infamous among truck drivers and locals, but has become something of a badge of courage for independent travelers. The most popular way for tourists to travel the route and live to tell the tale is to join a mountain-biking group. This death-defying journey begins at over 16,000ft (4,875m) above sea level and descends for 43 miles in a series of hairpin bends to bring you into lush rain forest.
The views are stunning, and since the dirt road is only ten feet wide with no guard rails, there are plenty of opportunities to contemplate your mortality along the way. Be warned though, the annual death rate has been as high as 150 along this one small stretch of road. Crosses, altars, and tire tracks disappearing over the edge are a salutary reminder to test your brakes at regular intervals.
There are so many blind bends that there are reports of kind-hearted locals standing at the side of the road waving red and green flags and acting as “human traffic lights.” This is the only road in Bolivia where you drive on the left—a degree of reassurance if you’re hugging the inside edge on the trek uphill, but not half so comforting on the journey downhill.
Head to the world’s greatest rodeos The US gave us John Wayne, but Canada also has a proud wild-west heritage to celebrate. So would-be cowboys and cowgirls should grab their boots and visit two of the biggest North American rodeos.
As home of Davy Crockett and the Alamo, it’s only fitting that Texas should host the big one—and Houston livestock Show and Rodeo each February ticks all the boxes. The three-week festival is very much a working show, with the world’s largest livestock exhibition. Preceding the event there are trail rides from Texas and beyond, bringing visitors to the show on horseback to recreate the atmosphere of the Old West.
The rodeo competitions take place in a huge indoor arena, with other events such as parades and barbecue cook-offs in Reliant Park. Traditionally, this event has also showcased huge stars—Elvis Presley once topped the bill—and it routinely attracts over two million visitors. The second most famous rodeo is north of the border in Alberta. Calgary Stampede each July is an extravaganza in honor of Canada’s frontier heritage.
This is your golden opportunity to dress up as a cowboy, gorge on corn dogs and pancakes with maple syrup, and watch rodeo and the even more dangerous chuckwagon racing. These days, Calgary is a boom town fueled by oil, but still the celebration of its past draws in crowds of well over a million. Competitions include bronc riding, steer wrestling, and team roping, with prize money for the professional rodeo riders topping the million-dollar mark.