Bolivia is fun, Bolivia is a surprise, Bolivia is diverse and the Bolivians are very friendly. So, we decide not to take the quick route to La Paz, but to ‘stroll’ a bit around the country. Just because we can!
Jeahhhh! We’re flying! It’s flat and we’re flying to Bueno Vista. So nice to be below 500 meters after spending so much time above 4000 meter, we are kicking some ass on our Santos bikes. We see trees again.., and mosquitoes.., and it’s really hot, but we are having fun together with Paul en Jan.
Amboro National Park
The four of us decide to do some sightseeing and visit Amboro National Park with a 4×4 car, wading through rivers but we get stuck in the mud so we have to walk. Our guide takes us through the park, looking for monkeys, cats, birds… but other than ants we see nothing! But, it’s a beautiful day and being surrounded by all the green trees is nice and well, we’ve already seen a sloth the other day!
Back to the Altiplano
We reach the lowest point at 217 meters and from there on it’s a big climb up back to the altiplano at more than 4000 meter. It’s a hot and sweaty climb! At 900 meters things turn for the worst for Pauls bicycle: his hub is broken. We are close to a workers camp and ask is we can camp here, which is no problem, so Paul tries to fix his hub and a quick test ride looks positive for him to continue our ride together tomorrow. Unfortunately, the next morning, with all his gear packed, the hub breaks down completely. No way he can continue the climb and we stop a bus and promise to meet in a couple of days in Cochabamba. Bam! Within five minutes we are on our own again. Just us two. Since Uyuni we’ve been cycling with the Canadiens, it feels weird to be on our own again…
Well, we have to keep going, so we start pedalling again. Up, up up! That night we camp on the concrete floor of a roadside restaurant, where the owner gives us fresh vegetables for our pasta dinner and for breakfast we get eggs! Good food to get us over the pass to reunite with our friends in Cochabamba!
It’s party time in Bolivia! Actually, it’s always party time in Bolivia. Every town we pass, there’s always music, beautifully dressed people and dancing. Young and old, man and women, rich and poor, they all dance! In Quillacollo, on our way to La Paz we visit a huge parade: thousands of people in colorful cloths, smiling, singing, dancing and 4 happy gringos. 😉
We continue our ride to La Paz, climbing to another 4500 meter high pass. On the second day at 4000 meter I get so sick, throwing up, major headache.., feels like altitude sickness! But, we have a Bolivian miracle pill and within no time I’m a happy camper again! Ready for the pass! It takes us six days to ride from Cochabamba to La Paz and we camp at the most beautiful places and one night we sleep at a church in Pongo. Many Bolivians wave at us when we pass them and they always smile and sometimes they are curious when they see our tents. We reach El Alto and decide to stay up here and not to ride down to La Paz, which is a really good idea. With the new cable car we can easily go down to the center and have an amazing view over the city as well. It’s impressive with the 6400 meter high Illumani mountain hovering over the city and the taxi ride back up is quite exhilirating too!
So, yes, we can say that the little detour in Bolivia was well worth it! It’s time for Peru now!