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BOLIVIA | Sunday, 2 November 2014 | Views [257]

Well Bolivia is now a distant memory,but we have had some of our best trips here. As you know we started in Copacabana on Lake Titicaca just over the border from Peru.So apart from some short around the town area we went on the obligatory boat trip to Isla Del Sol. This island and Isla del Luna were sacred to the Incas. So one morning we took the boat across to the northern end of the Isla del Sol - about 2.5hrs. Here we jumped off and started a 3.5hr hike to the southern end. We went past some inca ruins and up and over the top of ridges to about 3,800m.Once we reached the village of Yumani on the southern end we found ourselves a hostel on the top of a ridge for the night. We took our daypacks with our PJ'S and toothbrushes. A lovely sunset and dinner overlooking the lake was a nice way to end the day. WE caught the boat back to Copacabana the next morning to spend a final quiet day before moving on the next day by bus to La Paz.The trip there was only 4 hrs but in the middle both the passengers and the bus had to be ferried across a narrow strait in Lake Titicaca.WE naturally went on a quick motorboat,but the bus followed more sedately on a "barge". La Paz is a big busy chaotic city and at high altitude.Up and down the stairs in the hostel took some getting used to. Whilst here I applied to the Brazilian embassy for a visa. This we had to wait a few days for,so some sightseeing in the town and for Gary a bicycle ride down the famous Death Road.As I can't ride a bike I elected to come for the bus ride. So we left La Paz at 7.30am and after about 1 hr out up at approx 4,200m the riders we given their bikes to test and adjust. They then started on a test ride 22km down the tarmac. But by this time it was cold,raining with some sleet but off they went. I was so glad I was in the bus. We picked them up wet and cold down the road and made our way to the start of the Death ride road. Thankfully by then it was fine and warmer especially with all the hair-raising bends on the road. I went on the bus to meet them at the bottom.All the riders survived and by the end it was hot. So a shower and a late lunch was welcome. All in all a good but long 12hr day.After this we picked up my passport the next day and the following day hopped on a plane to Rurrenbarque in the north.Here in this hot and humid town on the edge of the jungle we set off down the river Beni with Mashaquipe Tours to their eco-lodge in the jungle.We spent 2.5 days here exploring the jungle both on land and from the river. WE saw some monkeys and birds with the brilliant red/green macaws a highlight.Unfortuneately because it was still the dry season not as many animals were around.On the third day we returned up river and then went by road to Mashaquipe's eco-lodge in the pampas area.Here we saw monkeys,birds and caimans in the nearby river and glimpses of pink dolphins.Walking on the pampas involved slushing around in gumboots in swamp like conditions looking for an anaconda.But not one to be seen as it was the dry season. This 5 day trip we really enjoyed with good accommodation,food and a knowledgable guide.Back by plane to La Paz to pick up our left luggage and move on. Our next stop was Cochabamba.However not a highlight as the bus trip was not the best and the city not what we expected.Our bus trip onto our next destination -Sucre,was even worse. It was overnight and no sleep and Gary was saying his prayers. But thankfully a good hostel awaited us in Sucre and the town was nice.One of the main reasons we went to Sucre was to wait out the Bolivian elections on Sunday 12th Oct. On that day no cars,buses or taxis were allowed to be driven except by special permit. Also all the shops were closed with only a few street stalls open. SO it was not the usual busy noisy city and children played on the streets and families walked on the streets - a nice change. Also no alcohol was allowed to be sold or consumed 72hrs prior and on the day. All these measures ensured everyone would vote and there was no trouble. WE did a small hike out of Sucre on a small part of an old inca trail and saw the Maragua crater - a very old volcanic crater of many colours. After Sucre we made our way south to Tupiza overnighting at Potosi on the way.Potosi is a mining town of old with silver the main mineral mined. We elected not to go on a mine tour as not sure about the safety aspect.Anyway onto to Tupiza which was our jumping off point for the Uyuni Salt Flat tour. Tupiza is a little hot dry country town and we indulged ourselves with an afternoon by a pool. A sister hostel to ours had a pool we could use for free so we took the opportunity. So on the 17th we started the Salt Flat tour. In our 4WD nissan there was us and 2 dutch sisters ( nice company),the driver and a cook. The company had 3 4WD's in convoy with a total of 13 tourists,3 drivers,cook and multi-lingual guide. The first day was long and up and thru the mtns. The next 2 days saw us stop many times to animals - vizchacas,vicunas,flamingos,other birds and of magnificent mtns,many coloured lakes,lakes with bicarb crusts or borax crusts which the locals "mined". The last day we were up early to catch the sunrise over the famous Uyuni Salt Flat - the biggest in the world. All in all a great trip with good companions,guide,cook and great scenery even if we did sit on our bum for most of the time. The 2nd night was really cold at high altitude so was glad I hired that sleeping bag. We arrived in Uyuni early afternoon on the 4th from where everyone dispersed to their next destination. Our's was a transfer to San Pedro de Atacama- just over the border in NW Chile. Our guide was very hepful in finding us such a shuttle and after a mad scramble to get ourselves some Chilean pesos we were off in another 4WD at 4pm. After 3 hrs drive we stopped in a little town 2 hrs from the border for the night. A basic meal and bed and during the night it stormed with some rain. The point of telling you that as when we got going again to the border in the morning and went up again in altitude we found lots snow on the altoplano. So on the trip we went desert - snow - desert. The border was a couple of buildings in the middle of nowhere. We were processed out of Bolivia and then on a different shuttle to San Pedro de Atacama to be processed thru chilean immigration in the town. San Pedro is in the middle of the Atacama desert which apparently the driest desert on earth. Anyway more about that in the next blog.


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