Bolivia – About terror alpacas, death roads and salt flats
We walked over the border from Peru to Bolivia and slept for one night in a small town called Copacabana. We booked a night in a quite special accommodation which had apartments built in animal forms. We got the giant snail. From our garden we had a beautiful view over Titicaca lake. Also we had two alpacas running around in our garden. They were supposed to only eat calmly the entire day but must have misunderstood something. Even though the young baby alpaca looked so fluffy with its white fur it was the most aggressive alpaca we’ve met and we named it “terror alpaca”. Once you approached it was running and jumping against you and the terror alpaca even tried to bite Patrick’s leg (which didn’t hurt). So beware the Alpacas! 🙂
After we had a relaxing night in the snail with a cozy bonfire we took the bus the next day to get to La Paz. But before that we shortly visited the Isla del Sol which is an about 1 hour boat ride from Copacabana. It was nice but nothing too special.
La Paz: Death Road
Our bus arrived in La Paz in the evening. We booked a hotel downtown and had everything in walking distance. The next day we joined a guided walking tour through the city. We visited the fruit and veggies market, different historical buildings and also the witch market. Here you can buy some magic ingredients that will fulfil your wishes if you burn them. We also learned about the traditional women of Bolivia (Cholitas), their cylinder hats and their habits.
The next day we got up early for a tour. Yes, we also had to mountain bike down the death road and we survived it! 🙂 It started above 4600 sea level and ended up at 1200 altitude. It was the first time for both of us to do downhill biking. So the beginning was a bit hard and literally bumpy. But after a while we adjusted to the bikes and road and managed the ride pretty well. The mountain road we were driving was once named death road as each year there were many casualties, including a bus with over 100 passengers that just went over a cliff. But since nearly 10 years they’ve built another more secure road which most of the traffic is now using. So because we had the road mostly for ourselves it was not as dangerous as you might think.
La Paz: Gran Poder
While in Peru we heard that there will be the big festival of Gran Poder in La Paz on the 26th of May and we were already looking forward to it. While we were still in bed in the morning, we got woken up by the drums of the parade. At around 8 am the streets were already packed with people, music and the parade. The costumes were fantastic and really colorful. Our hotel was located directly at the street where the parade was going through. So after getting out of bed, we had a good view from the balcony. The parade went on for the entire day and did not stop before 2 am the next morning. We had a really great time and were happy to have had the opportunity to experience something like this.
Our next destination was Uyuni. To get there the choice was between a 12 hour overnight bus ride and a 1 hour plane flight. We both were tired of all the bus rides over the last weeks, especially the overnight bus rides. So we chose the plane and arrived relaxed the next day in Uyuni.
From there we booked a 3 day tour through the different salt flats and lagoons in this area and over to Chile.
There are hundreds of tour operators and it’s not easy to find the best for you. The quality varies a lot and we heard some stories about drunken drivers and bad food. Gladly, we found a great operator, Cordillera Traveller, in the middle price range and we ended up pretty happy with it. Their 4×4 car takes 6 people plus the guide. We shared our tour with 2 French and two Dutch guys. Mathijs kindly shared some of his pictures with us and we used a couple of his for this post. All in all, we had some nice days together and with our guide Walter (he’s really Bolivian!).
First we visited an old train cemetery close to Uyuni. Its funny scenery with the big locomotives in the middle of nowhere. Afterwards we drove over to the famous salt flats Salar de Uyuni. It is about 11000 square meters big and absolutely unique. During the day you feel like you are over the clouds. We were also lucky that a small area of the salt flat had a little bit of water, giving you reflections that you don’t know any more what’s up and what’s down. This was definitely the highlight of the tour for us. On the following day we visited different lagoons. Among them the green lagoon and the famous red lagoon. Apart from the color of the lagoons that are created by minerals, there are plenty of flamingos living happily in there. The whole day we were driving around between 4500m and 5000m altitude. Seems like this time we were well adopted with our days in Peru and we didn’t feel any altitude sickness. After a very cold night with about -10° we got up before sunrise to see some geysers during sunrise. To finish off we went for a well deserved bath in some hot springs.
We then continued to the Chilean border and took the bus to San Pedro de Atacama.
Unfortunately, Nina got another cold and we stayed only a few days in Chile, mainly resting. But as Nina’s cold turned out to be quite persistent we had to change something. And why not change to a bit warmer weather? So we booked another flight from Antofagasta to Rio de Janeiro, where we stayed for a week, before our plane was leaving in the direction of Namibia (our climate balance will be ruined for years after this trip…). And who would have thought that we start our Bolivia journey in Copacabana and also end it in Copacabana? 🙂