Entering Bolivia at Villazon
Bolivia - A Total of 3 Months
I visited Bolivia on three different occasions.
27th Jan - 13th Feb 2004 (17 Days) to see photos of this section see Iquitos to Rio
The first time I went to Bolivia I entered from the North, having just travelled along the River Amazon and down the Madeira River to Porto Velho. After I recovered from fever I crossed the river Mamore from the Brazilian town of Guajara to enter Bolivia at Guayaramerin. I spent days trying to arrange a boat trip through the jungle to Trinidad but I was continually told there would be one tomorrow.
Eventually I decided to forget about sailing down the river and took a public bus to Trinidad, on what turned out to be a lengthy and eventful journey as the Bolivian roads are only 5%!t(MISSING)armac'd and in the rainy season that can be a problem.
Riberlta to Trinidad is supposed to take 20-22 hours and I left Riberalta at 12:20pm and listened to music and admired the jungle scenery, but I soon fell asleep still not feeling 100%! (MISSING)That night I woke up
The mountain thats been heavily mined
as the bus was trying to drive through a huge mud puddle that had formed in the road, the technique which they used was brilliant. They back up away from the puddle to get a run up and then drive as fast as they can into the puddle until it gets stuck usually involving the back end of the bus sticking out into the air. Then a bulldozer or tractor comes and pulls it through to the other side, I didn't understand why they didn't just pull it from one side to the other but hey I'm just a Gringo
. Four times this happened in the night so I didn't sleep all that much. After 21 hours we were in thick jungle and arrived in a town, which I was hoping was Trinidad but was very disappointed to discover was only Rurrenabaque, just a bit more than half way. I was even more delighted when after about 27 hours the bus broke down and left us at a petrol station.
Three hours later we left loaded up in pickup trucks sitting on planks of wood, across the back for, seats and set off into the evening admiring the jungle and
The market stall full of explosives
the sunset. We arrived at 5:20am, exactly 41 hours after leaving and my posterior was aching like crazy from sitting on a plank for 12 uncomfortable hours. It took me 3 days of chilling in Trinidad to get over that experience.
From Trinidad I visited the Unesco world heritage area, the Jesuit Missions of the Chiquitos, on The Jesuit Missions Circuit and spent some days in San Javier.
I spent 4 days, chilling and investigating the Jesuit missions, of which there are many in this area let from when Christianity arrived to lie and cheat the natives. There were some nice buildings but the area impressed me more with the beautiful tropical countryside, the town was pretty relaxing.
From San Javier I went back to Santa Cruz and then on to the border at Quijarro to cross to Corumba on the Brazilian side.
19th - 29th October 2004 (10 Days)
On the 19th of March me and a Dutch friend took a night bus to Bolivia. I went into Bolivia for a quick trip in order to be able to
We bought a big bag of TNT and lit the fuse
get another 3 month visa when I returned to Argentina.
First we visited Potosi a cool town at a dizzy altitude, which relied on the mining of the cerro Rico to generate wealth. I visited the mine, meeting some of the 13 and 14 year old boys that had to work 10 hours a day, in atrocious conditions, to earn what was equivalent to £1.08. We bought a big bag of TNT from the market and after holding it next to my family jewels, with a lit fuse, we placed it down a hill and watched it explode.
Sucre was a pretty place and I loved the fossilized dinosaur footprints at the nearby Cal Orck'o. These Dinosaur Tracks were discovered in a limestone quarry in 1994, and is reportedly the largest collection of dinosaur tracks in the whole world; there are many trails of footprints leading up a big quarry wall.
After 4 days in Sucre we spent a day travelling back to Tupiza, near the Argentinean border. Here we spent a couple of days enjoying the scenery, including a day horse riding through Butch Cassidy country, before crossing back to Argentina. It was a beautiful ride through
Potosi - In the Mine
13 Year old kids working 10 hours for £1.08
dramatic red escarpments which jut skyward from the coarse terrain and green agricultural land.
17th Feb - 16th March 2005 (4 Weeks)
Santa Cruz Area
Once in Bolivia I took time out to see the death place of Che Guevara before arriving in La Paz. We based ourselves in Samaipata and from here visited Vallegrande. In Vallegrande we visited the Nuestra Señora de Malta hospital, especially the laundry room, where his body was put on public display and photographs were taken, showing his mutilated figure lying on a concrete slab. There was an interesting museum showing photos of the attempted revolution that Che foolishly tried to start in Bolivia.
I wrote in my diary “I took photos of me lying on the concrete slab where they actually displayed his body to scare other revolutionaries at the time. The pose I did was to mock those that left his body like that, not the hero himself, who is a hero of mine”
From Samaipata we also visited ‘las grutas’, a waterfall and bathing pool 20km Hawai.
We took a night bus
A view of the city
to La Paz arriving the next afternoon. My friend Chris met me again in La Paz a few days later and the first thing we did was to Cycle down "The Worlds most Dangerous Road", which statistically loses 2 vehicles a month over the edge, which plummet almost a kilometre to the bottom.
We started at La Cumbre, 4640 metres up and cycled gravity assisted into the jungle at Coroico 1295 metres above sea-level, a 3345 m descent over 64kms, beautiful scenery and a really cool experience.
There were transport dispute strikes so we had problems leaving La Paz. In fact we were stuck for a couple of days before we could leave, so we used this time to visit the ruins of Tiawanaku 72km closer to Peru and also the much closer Valle de la Luna with its lunar-like topography.
When we left La Paz we took a bus to Oruro and then jumped on a train to Uyuni. The train was stopped from leaving the station for hours and hours as the locals protested by burning tires on the tracks in front of the train. We eventually left and arrived in Uyuni in the
Fossilised dinosaur footprints close to Sucre
middle of the night, next morning we signed straight up and joined a 4 day tour of Las Salinas.
The tour involved driving around the massive salt flat area to visit a salt mine, a hotel made of salt, different coloured lakes (turqoise, red), with flamencos living on some of them. We drove around, up and over volcanos and stopped at some thermals to bathe and lastly we visted a train cemetry, with loads of abandoned trains. There had been so much recent rain that the salinas were flooded which enhanced the reflective effect. This area has absolutely amazing scenery, amazing shapes in the land and colours in the lakes, an absolute must see.
After las salinas we hit Tupiza, as I wanted to take Chris on the same horse ride I went on 6 months earlier, through the countryside where Legend has it that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid met their end at the hands of the Bolivian army. Again it was a beautiful ride through the dramatic red and green scenery.
And just before Chris went home we went up into the Mountains near Sorata for some camping in great mountain scenery
The sedimentation managed to preserve the Dino steps
Then I continued on towards Peru, staying at Copacabana on the Bolivian side of lake Titicaca for a couple of nights.
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