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Published: June 27th 2007
Ok, time for another update for all those who are eagerly waiting to see what has been going on over here since the last story. Watch out, it’s a long one!
After leaving you all since the climb Kev, Dave and I have been cramming in the action. We are starting to get to the point where we need a holiday by the beach for a while to get over all this adventure! However, this is what happened next…..
(Or, as the politically correct companies now have to call it…)
The Worlds Most Dangerous Road
Now, its hard to find or even hear from people absolute statistics about this road, but on average, it is estimated 200 people die a year travelling along it. The road itself was built in 1935 yet the worst year on record was 2003 when around 80 Bolivians went over the edge after returning from a festival in La Paz. In 94, 26 vehicles went over the edge and since companies offered mountain biking trips over 7 tourists have died
among countless others seriously injured taking tumbles over the edge or on the dirt road. Just walking around
the streets of La Paz you can see the countless Gringoes wrapped up in bandages after hurting one part or another of the body.
Filled with all this information we gladly signed up for the deluxe package with a company called Gravity,
supplying us with awesome Trek downhill bikes with hydraulic brakes and over 6 inches of travel either end. The ride itself was an absolute scream. The first section of the ride was on the new sealed tarmac road where you could easily reach speeds of 70 km/h
overtaking buses and cars as the locals look out the windows with very confused faces.
The second part of the trip involved the old Death Road on gravel and loose dirt. Once again, Kev, Dave and me spent the whole ride right behind the guide absolutely screaming past other tour groups who looked so scared as we cut them up and nearly forced them off the side into a 400m chasm!! All told we descended from 4700m to the small town of Coroico situated at 1300m with the strange smell of oxygen in the air, which we hadn’t tasted for some time now.
After all this fun
and games we decided we needed to get out of the altitude for a while where every step forces you to sit down, and head into the lowland jungles of Park National Madidi
, containing one of South Americas most intact ecosystem. We arrived here via a tiny little smartie tube of a plane which felt like it was going to break up all the way and the flight path itself flew us directly over the mountain Huani Potosi which we climbed a few days previously.
Once here we got ourselves directly onto a 3 day jungle tour taking us up the Beni River and then further into the jungle via a big tributary. The tour involved a few days walking into the heart of the jungle where we tracked and chased down herds of wild pigs, monkeys and any other animal which our guide could find. We even had the joy of seeing a Jaguar at night time searching around our camp for food. The pigs by the way were the funniest, our guide told us once we find them they are liable to attack and the only way to get away from them is to climb up the nearest
tree. Bearing in mind all the trees around us either had huge spikes sticking out from them or were the home to ants the size of your little finger, we all hoped that they wouldn’t turn and charge. In the end they never yet it was good fun running through the dense jungle, maschete in hand chasing over 300 wild pigs.
We also spent afternoons fishing, catching piranha and small fish first to use as bait for the bigger fish in the main river. I was sat next to our guide on the first afternoon when his line went spinning away and he shouted at me to grab it. As I hauled it in I felt like there was a croc on the end yet as it got closer to shore I realised it was only a mahoosive Cat Fish yet it was buzzing all the same to get him in. Tasted absolutely stunning the next day for lunch mind so it was well worth all the effort.
Another jungle trek we came across what our guide said was an extremely poisonous spider, so he picked him up and put him on my back!! The big fella was
alright though and he just crawled all over me trying to find his web. After this we collected some old nuts off the floor which had dropped from above in the forest canopy. After cracking a few of these open with the maschete we found inside loads of big fat, juicy maggots!! Our guide then plucked a spike off the nearest tree, proceeded to put all the maggots onto it like a kind of weird kebab, gave them a slight grilling with a lighter then passed them round for us all to have a chew. Mmmmmmmm. Delightful. They actually tasted a little bit like mushrooms but apparently hold more energy in them than 2 bananas put together!
Our last evening here involved a good night trek where we tried to find the Jaguar along with any other animal which made all the strange noises which we could hear all around us. After trekking through the jungle for a while we made our way along to the river bed where a shine of the torch into the reeds and shallows showed up all the eyes of the crocs wallowing about. Our guide found himself a reasonably small one, stripped down
to his pants and leaped straight into the stream!! Out he crawled with a little croc firmly in his grasp which he let us have a little play with before putting him down on the floor upside down while stroking his belly. This seemed to put the croc into some kind of trance and he just fell asleep before our eyes!! With a firm twist he righted himself soon enough and scarpered back down towards the river.
Isla Del Sol
From the jungle we made our way back to La Paz where we jumped straight onto a bus heading for the Lake side town of Cocacobana. Unfortunately not the one old big nose Manillow sings about but a small fishing town on the shores of Lake Titicaca which is the departure point for tours and treks to the Island across the way. We opted to walk the length of the peninsular up to a small town at its tip, following old Inca roads and crossing through towns which have been unchanged for probably hundreds of years.
At the end of the route we needed to catch a ferry over to the island itself and an old man of
about 80 came running towards us to get us to go into his little boat which he will row there!! He seemed so keen we let the old boy have a go and jumped into his little dingy for the row over. After watching him for a little while panting away I decided to jump in and have a go myself along with taking shifts with Kev and Dave. Kev actually went around in circles though so his time was rather short considering we were going backwards!!
We spent the night here in an old hostal on the Island, then the following day walked the length, passing through old Inca ruins and amazing panoramic views of the lake from high.
The end of Bolivia
Not the actual end of the country, only the end of our months visit here. Bolivia surprised all 3 of us with its range of amazing things to see and do and it was with heavy heart that we jumped on a bus out of Copacabana heading for the opposite side of the lake into Peru.
The city of Puno was our destination and it is here that you can catch rides
out to the other main inhabited Islands of the lake, witnessing completely different cultures on each one. Our first drop off point was the Uros culture reed islands.
These islands are completely made from the local reeds which grow here and whole communities build separate islands to live and fish off. The Uros people began their existence many centuries ago to escape from the more aggressive Incas and Collas living on the mainland, and this is still where they stay to this day. The reeds are used to make everything you see including the houses they sleep in, the boats they fish from and the handicrafts which they try to sell you at every available opportunity!
After this short stop we moved onto a larger Island to meet our lovely host who we were going to be spending the night with, Fortunata. As soon as we arrived she cooked up a lovely lunch consisting of all locally grown products and we then went up to the Inca ruins to watch the sunset from the top of the Island. The evening consisted of all the silly gringoes being dressed up in the local costumes and attending a “fiesta” with all
Our group at the end
and no injuries either!! boring
the other people on the land. It was a really funny experience with the 40 to 80 year old hosts getting up and grabbing everyone up for a good old boogey to the local house band. I don’t think ive had so many women ask me to dance in a long time, even if they were grannies!
Anyway, that’s all for now. (I can hear a big phew!) we are now sat in the lovely town of Cusco waiting for our trek out to the ancient Inca ruins of Chocaqueroa and Machu Pichu. A good 8 day trek through these world famous sights and ill be back on line to show off all my photos of these places.
Keep in touch and if you leave a message then I will get back to you as soon as I can for a nice little chin wag.
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