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Published: October 22nd 2006
Piranha for Dinner Anyone?
After our afternoon of fishing...
Bolivian Biking to Brasilian Bats! Sorry Mum!
"Do not take the´El Calle De Morte' (Road of Death/Worlds Most Dangerous Road) to the Rain Forest!" I was advised by a good pal (Mr C Large) and told by my Mum. Well, we didn't take the bus, but we opted instead for a bike... But surely only a fool would spend 5 hours hurtling down a narrow track on a mountain bike with 400 feet drop offs waiting to catch you as you fall. Indeed, I thought, but what is it they say about Mad Dogs and English Men?
However, before we jumped on our bikes we spent a week in Copa Cabana and the Isla Del Sol on "Lago Titicaca" (on the border of Peru and Bolivia). Here we stayed at a great hostel on the hill overlooking the tiny town and spent several days simply kicking back, lying in the hammocks, reading, cooking in the guest kitchen, watching DVDs and doing all the things you miss when you are on the road. Amazing as it may seem, travelling is "not a holiday" and this was running around our heads along with a famous song written by a certain Barry
At 4,800m... Before the Decent
World´s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia
Manilow - who has alot to answer for we think. Copa Cabana, great place, rubbish song!
Back to the bikes. Wow, what can I say apart from it was awesome. Imagine jumping in a minibus at 7am with the Chilli Peppers blaring and heading to the top of of an 18,000 feet mountain (4,800m) which keeps watch over La Paz. Cool indeed. Now put on all your kit: Helmet, gloves, mask and goggles, jump on a $3000 bike and pedal fast, no faster, no as fast as you can for the next 5 hours down both tarmac (muy rapido) and dirt road "Calle Del Morte" (rapido enough) and you have got yourself a damned fine day out. The views were incredible and the ride rocked! The bus back up the mountain was not so hot I have to say but all in all, well worthwhile. In all seriousness though El Calle De Morte has aquired its name based on the countless people who have succumbed to an early exit from this world and the week before we rode, a passenger bus didn´t complete its intended journey unfortunately. However, believe it or not, riding down is actually safer than bussing
Bandits in Bolivia?
..Or just mountain biking down the world´s most dangerous road!?
it down, but remember - if you are going to bike the road then please do so with care. Onto The Amazon
We jumped on a very small aeroplane for the quick flight from La Paz to Rurrenbaque in order to spend 3 days in the Bolivian Amazon Rain Forest. After a 3 hour trip in a dug out canoe up the Beni River, we arrived at the Madidi Lodge (Madidi is a protected reserve in the rain forest), a very cool place with mosquito screen cabins to sleep in and hammocks to just hang out. In short, an upmarket version of camping in the forest and all for $35 per night! We spent time bird watching on the lakes, Piranha Fishing (very cool), crocodile watching and day and night trekking. Night time in the forest really was incredible with all sorts of very loud, wierd and wonderful sounds coming from all around us. The highlight definitely was going to sleep under a star filled canopy with the sounds of the night forest as a back drop - along with the Howler Monkeys and their absolute cacophony of noise, the tarantulas web and the friendly house spider which was
Our Bungalow in the Amazon
Surrounded by jungle... soo amazing!
bigger than my hand waiting for us in our bathroom. YT jumped on the bed and I ran off to find our guide who asured me it was harmless! No chances were being taken by either of us pal, so please get rid of it!!! All in all a fabulous experience. And the Salt Flats
We then jumped back on the plane to La Paz and journeyed on South for a couple of days to the Uyuni Salt Flats. The Salt Flats were formed when an ancient sea dried out leaving untold anmounts of salt for us all to enjoy. We booked a trip and headed off for a 3 day journey to explore this place. Day one involved 12 hours in a 4x4 with two crazy Slovenians, a German, a POHM, a Bolivian guide and of course, looking at lots of salt, cacti and a salt hotel! Day two involved 12 hours in a 4x4 with the same crew and looking at a few lakes (aptly and imaginatively named Blanco, Verde Y Rojo). Day three involved 12 hours in a 4x4, looking at a few more lakes and some volcanoes which to be fair were absolutely beautiful and
the landscape was like something from the Moon, Mars and Venus all rolled into one! Overall, the trip was amazing in terms of geography and viewing although the 36 hours spent in the 4x4 were far more interesting..!? From Border to Border
Having spent a couple of days heading so far south we were almost at the Chilian boarder, we now needed to head North East to The Pantanals in Brazil. We did so using planes, trains and automobiles and two days later arrived at La Frontera. Passports stamped we jumped into a VW camper van with a representitive of a hostel. Two of his pals then jumped in and I spent the next 30 minutes convinced that I was about to be robbed, beaten and then buggered by these sweet looking fellas. Fortunately, they turned out to be with the good guys and delivered us safely to our hostel in Corumba, in the football capital of the world, BRAZIL! As we were on a roll and had spent the past eight days literally none stop on the road, we decided to keep going to the Pantanals that evening. (!!) The highlight of this leg was being bundled on
to the back of an old pick up truck and driven to our new cabin in a huge storm after night fall. It really was beautiful if not a little wet! Our new cabin turned out to be a shared barn on a farm yard with two beds, eight travellers, numerous hammocks and lots of sh***ing bats. Interesting sleeping quarters indeed! However, travel hardened, we settled into a good night's rest in a single bed and spent the next three days exploring the Pantanals on foot and horse back. We tried our hand at Piranha fishing again, saw lots of beautiful birds (featherd variety), Cayman, an Ant Eater, Capybara and all sorts of other wierd and wonderful wildlife. Three days later and we were ready to hit the road again, trading in our lovely sleeping quarters for something a little more comfortable hopefully!
So all in all, the three weeks spent travelling from the Peruvian Border to the Brazilian border through Bolivia were absolutely awesome. The activities were both adrenalin fuelled and wild life filled and our view of Bolivia is that it is a very, very cool place to travel with some great things to see. With Barry
Manilow´s Copa Cabana still lingering in our minds, we thought of Rio, the beaches and then of course football, football, football. Bring it on Pele, Ronaldinho et al!
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