Bolivia is really high up. Like, really high up. High enough up that some people (us) felt like our heads were going to explode if our lungs didn’t go first. Now we can add altitude sickness to our ever increasing list of forms of travel sickness!
Our first stop in Bolivia was Copacabana on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The biggest difference between here and Peru is that most of the population are indigenous. All the local women wear traditional clothing which is a bit weird the first time you see it. Lisa suggested they looked a bit like toilet roll dolls with bowler hats. Whilst not being the most culturally sensitive comment it is a pretty good description.
We took a boat trip to to Isla del Sol in the middle of the Lake where the Incas believed the Sun God came from. The views were really impressive though it felt strange to be looking down on a lake almost 4,000m above sea level.
Next we jumped on a bus to La Paz. We took a local bus because it was much cheaper and they also tend to be quite entertaining. This was no exception. The first strange
sight was a road that had been closed because it was covered in fish... Then the bus stopped in a small town and all the locals got off, leaving just us and a couple of German tourists. The bus then proceeded to drive onto a rickety wooden barge to cross the river. A bit hairy but we wouldn’t have thought too much about it had we not looked across and noticed that all the locals had jumped on another (much more solid looking) boat before getting back on the bus at the other side!
We finally arrived in La Paz which is a stunning city surrounded by the snow covered Andes mountains. Just outside the city is the world’s ‘most dangerous road’, a narrow dirt track that snakes 70km down the side of a mountain. Stuart couldn’t resist the chance to mountain bike down it... anything to get a free t-shirt.
After that we made a 3 day trip to an eco-lodge in the Amazon. We’d both been really looking forward to this part of the trip and it didn’t disapoint. To get there we took a tiny plane over the Andes with some awesome views then got
into a dugout canoe for a 6 hour trip up river. The place is run by a local tribe and our guide took us on some amazing hikes through the deepest parts of the jungle. We saw loads of animals including monkeys, macaws, massive ants, a tarantula and a really rare tapir. On the last day we spent ages tracking a herd of about 300 wild pigs which was great fun. Luckily they didn’t decide to turn and eat us!
One of the evenings we tried chewing coca leaves. The locals swear by these for curing altitude sickness and acting as a stimulant. They are Bolivia’s biggest export and apparently still a key ingredient in Coca Cola as well as the raw ingredient for the other type of Coke. I was sold on it but Lisa complained that all it did was numb her tongue!
Final stop in Bolivia was a place called Uyuni to see the massive Salt plains. Stretching for thousands of square miles, this place was really surreal. It used to be a big salt lake and we visited one of the islands which had some cacti over 1000 years old.
We then caught the
02:35am (!) train Southwards towards Argentina.
Stu and Lisa
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