The Trampoline of Death

It is Colombia’s most dangerous road. They call it El Trampolin de la Muerte or The Trampoline of Death. The road is carved out of near-vertical mountains and winds through the thick cloud forest. Looking down from the edge of the road, you see no bottom, only layers of vegetation going several hundred metres below. It is quite similar to the Death Road I cycled a few months ago in Bolivia but the main difference is, there is traffic on this road which is single-lane and has over 100 hairpins with plenty of blind corners. It is also unpaved with the loose gravel surface. A slight mistake here can cost you life as it is indicated by many wooden crosses that line the road. 500 people died on this road in year 2011.

Waterfalls plunge from a height, swim across the road and disappear below in thick vegetation draped with mist. Avalanches and landslides can occur anytime due to the heavy rain. The 74-km long road section runs between Pasto (2500-m) and Mocoa (600-m) and takes you from the chilly Andean climate to the tropical climate.

Yesterday, it took me over 10 hours to cycle this road. I fell down from the bicycle twice due to the slippery road. Once a truck coming from the opposite direction almost ran over me, another time on a narrow section of the road, an overtaking car was about to throw me off the edge into the massive drop. But I am still here typing this text from a hotel in Mococa, a city which is part of the Colombian Amazon. The pedestal fan is blowing air on my face. Outside, a dog is panting in the shade. Here, women wear colourful shorts and ride scooters while licking ice cream. People drink coffee despite the hot weather and regardless of the hour of the day. At night, people come to the central square with families and friends. Street vendors prepare a variety of food with loud TVs in the background while children shout and play nearby.

Welcome to Colombia, the 34th country I am cycling!


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