Braving Bolivia...

Bolivia Travel Blog

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Uyuni salt flats

We travelled into Bolivia on a 4 day 4WD tour of high altitude lakes and the amazing Uyuni salt flat.  It was a tough way in, with the first 2 days over 4300m and -15 degrees, staying in dorms with no heating, no showers and only 2 toilets shared by at least 40 people (many with Bolivian belly!).   But the stunning scenery made it more than worth it - high altitude lakes coloured electric blue, yellow or red from the minerals, filled with pink flamingoes.  Huge desert landscapes, hot springs and fuming geysers.  And the unbelievable salt flat that stretches flat and bright white as far as you can see. 

From Uyuni we went to Potosi, the highest city in the world.

The miners
  Potosi is centered around a huge silver mine, in which over 8 million people have died in its 450 years.  An absolute must in Bolivia I think is to visit the mine, to get a very small idea of the terrible conditions in which the miners work trying to scrape together a living.  It´s not exactly a fun ´tour´- already at altitude, its hard work just to breathe through the dust, smell of noxious gases and lack of oxygen.   Then in pitch black except for your head torch, you climb down and back up tiny, claustrophia inducing mine shafts held up by a few rickety looking pieces of wood.   And there is no way we even experience half of what the miners have to put up with up to 1800m from the surface...   The highlight for Simone was celebrating her birthday that day in true Bolivian style, by blowing up her birthday cake with dynamite (well half, after we gave the other half to some miners) outside the mine.
Coutry transport
 

After a couple of days recovering in wealthy and sunny Sucre (I struggle to get my head around the contrasts in way of life here), Tom and I spent two days discovering Bolivian country public transport and trekking through farmland and villages.  We seemed to be the only ones slightly concerned for our lives in the back of the truck crammed with 30 people plus their potatoes, rice, and chickens, winding up narrow dirt roads with hundred meter drops right next to the wheels...

We then took a tiny plane and flew through the Andes to arrive in the Amazon basin.  We spent 5 days swimming with pink dolphins and caimens (little crocodiles!), fishing for pirhanas, and taking boat trips and jungle walks to see monkeys, turtles and thousands of birds.

Poor little pirhana!
 

And then on to the capital La Paz.  High altitude, terrible pollution, crazy drivers, but a fun (maybe a little too much fun...; ) place for a few nights.  We were also super lucky and managed to get in to San Pedro prison (have you heard of the book Marching Powder?  Look out for the upcoming Brad Pitt film...).  The prison is run by inmates - the guards stand outside the gate to let people in and out and that is it.  Prisoners rent their own cells, buy their own food, clothes etc, and work out differences by themselves.  There are 7 western inmates in San Pedro, that use their right to have visitors (when the Bolivians let them anyway) to take tourists on ´tours´of the prison as a way of earning income to pay for their stay there.

La Paz
  Our ´tour guide´was in there for smuggling 25 capsules of heroin in his stomach, and we met the Columbian drug lord who ´ran´the section and had been in gaol for 16 years.  Plus considering in Bolivia you are assumed guilty until proven innocent, and you can be held in prison for up to 3.5 years before being sentenced, we met a couple of people also claiming innocence...scary...  

To add to our safe and normal tours in Bolivia, Tom bicycled down what has been officially determined the ¨worlds most dangerous road¨, based on the annual number of road deaths.  Single lane, steep downhill, dirt road with an up to 400m drop over the edge, with trucks and cars racing by on the inside (apparently it is safter for you to stay on the cliff side!?!).

Lake Titkaka
  As the more intelligent half, I did a gorgeous 3 day trek down an old Inca road and met Tom at the village at the bottom instead... ; )

Our last stop in Bolivia was Lake Titikaka (or boobykaka as we have fondly termed it), the highest navigable lake in south america.  We visited Isla del Sol, where Inca legend says the sun was born.  Crystal clear water that goes as far as you can see, snow capped mountains on one shore, hot sun, tasty trout, a couple of cervezas... gorgeous...

And now on to Peru...

 

 

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Uyuni salt flats
Uyuni salt flats
The miners
The miners
Coutry transport
Coutry transport
Poor little pirhana!
Poor little pirhana!
La Paz
La Paz
Lake Titkaka
Lake Titkaka
Laguna Verde - Uyuni tour
Laguna Verde - Uyuni tour
Hot springs by the high altitude l…
Hot springs by the high altitude …
Flamingoes at 4300m
Flamingoes at 4300m
Rugged up!
Rugged up!
Llamas
Llamas
Uyuni salt flats.. couldn´t help …
Uyuni salt flats.. couldn´t help…
Simone the miner
Simone the miner
Tom the miner
Tom the miner
Happy Birthday Sim!
Happy Birthday Sim!
Bus station hairdresser
Bus station hairdresser
The country trek
The country trek
Amazonian monkey
Amazonian monkey
Swimming with caimen
Swimming with caimen
Spider monkey
Spider monkey
In the Amazon village
In the Amazon village
In the Amazon village
In the Amazon village
Juice at the markets
Juice at the markets
Village in Amazon
Village in Amazon
Lake Titikaka
Lake Titikaka
4,047 km (2,515 miles) traveled
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