I left San Pedro de Atacama on the 22nd April. The group seemed to be nice in the minibus on the way to the border..There were a few people though who didn’t speak much. After the border crossing we had breakfast in the beautiful National park of Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. The group halved and we packed all our stuff into 2 jeeps. I wasn’t very happy at the beginning because the ‘cool’ people stayed with the other group, so i continued my way with a Polish guy Szymon, a French couple, Tom and Elena and a Spanish guy Carlos. We visited on the first day the Laguna Verde (for me this was the highlight):

then we went to the geysers..impressive:

And after this we headed to the hot springs where I didn’t go into the water for 3 reasons:

A, I was a bit sick of altitude (5200m)

B, I had bed bug bites all over me

C, It was freezing cold and i still had my cold from the Navimag

After this 1 hour break we went to our accommodation.

Had lunch and a bit of siesta, then in the afternoon we went to Lago Colorado..Now this was something special with all the flamingos..my altitude sickness kicked off though even more. Luckily Chino (our guide) had a lot of coca leaves so I mastered in the chewing technique.

We went back to the hostel, had dinner, and played cards with the guys while having a bottle of wine. Early bed time (I was happy to lie down but i woke up a few times during the night because I couldn’t breathe. I measured my heartbeat by the way in the evening and it was 90 which is fairly high..this gives u an idea how is this altitude sickness.

Next day we left early to continue our way to the rocks where there is the Arbol de Piedra:

Then we continued to the Train Cemetery and to the market of the Salt flats.

We arrived to Uyuni around 5pm (There was an hour less than San Pedro). Walked around. It’s not a particularly nice city. Then dinner at 7pm and another card night with the boys. Won again:)

On the 3rd day we had to be out at 5am to see the sunrise in the Salt flat…

Chino’s family came with us. In Bolivia the guides for the Salar work almost 7/7 so he only gets to see his family for an afternoon every 3 days…and earns 1500Bolivianos /month which is about £150.

We had breakfast in the Hotel of Salar de Uyuni where everything is made of salt.

And we carried on discovering this massive Salt flat, plus went to a place where we could see some mummies of the Inka’s.

We got back to Uyuni at 11am, the tour finished. Everybody took the 12pm bus to Potosi. The bus ride was about 3 hours, we stopped once to eat in a place.

After we got to Potosi we went to the same hostel. Elena and Tom to a different room, I stayed with Carlos and Symon.

We went out a bit and met some people from San Pedro, then we did a bit of shopping in the Central Market (you could buy there even Langos!!) and I cooked in the hostel. We had dinner but everyone was dead so went to sleep.

The next day I had a lie in..it was incredibly good not being on a schedule. In the afternoon i went to explore Potosi, had lunch at the market. They have these set lunches for 6 Bolivianos: soup, main and soft drink..I met there Ute and Rosa, we booked the tour in the mine for the day after in the morning, except Rosa she did it straight away. I did a tour in the ‘Casa de la Moneta’ of Potosi, the history of the coins…quite dull tour but one thing surprised me. Even though Bolivia is rich in minerals, the country doesn’t have money for the technology of printing coins..so they outsource is to Europe , Canada and Chile..impressive. After the tour I was walking around with Ute, and went up to the ‘Gherkin of Potosi’:

In the evening we met Rosa again and went out for a meal. Then hostel and sleep.

Big day was waiting for me the Mine tour..i was the only one on the English tour which was great. Pedro, my tour guide- his nickname among the local girls is ‘Lama face’- made sure that I get a proper intro into the minor’s world. We first went to the mining shop where I bought soft drink and dynamite to the minors..Look at my outfit:

Then we went to the place where all the minerals are processed:

And after we entered the mine..imagine something like this:

We spent about 2 hours inside..met Tio who is the Devil but kind of God of minors…they have a ‘party ‘ every Friday, they bring coca leaves to him, cigarette, and the famous 96% alcohol:

I have to say the life of the minors is tough…they are self employed, therefore some of them start at 6-7 in the morning and leave at 9-10 in the evening..I had the luck to try to work there a bit..after 2 minutes I was sweating..they smash incredible stones to get a tiny bit of minerals of them..

After the tour one of the ex minors (now working as a tour guide) invited all the tourists to his wedding which took place on Saturday. I couldn’t miss this opportunity so I offered him that I could take some nice pics for them and this would be my present. He was over the moon.

So I left Potosi at 4pm and went to Sucre, to the capital of Bolivia with Ute. We had a 3 star hotel called Hotel San Francisco for 6 euros/night..not bad..I needed a bit of luxury after the past days.

On Thursday we went to bed straight so we can start early with the sightseeing..after amazing avocado, cheese and fruit breakfast we started the city tour..very cultural amazing city:

In the evening we met Verana (I did the Uyuni tour with her) and Daniel from Izrael and we went to a local 1st of May (Labour’s day) celebration. I had the spiciest food ever and the drink’s base was the 96% alcohol I reckon because it hit my head straight away. We bought a 1.5l bottle for the 4 of us..

Ute went home earlier, Verana and the guy did too so i had no other choice..Funnily enough I was walking home drunk with the remaining of the alcohol and the police came in front of me, and without saying anything they took my drink. Later on I found out that u cannot drink alcohol on the street..probably better that they took it from me:)

On Saturday I did a bit more sightseeing then packed and left to Potosi at 1.30pm. Upon arrival I checked into a hostel, bought some ‘wedding accessories’ in the market and went to the tourist info office where Carlos accompanied me to the church. In Bolivia the church ceremony can start at 6,30pm as it did in the case of Efrain and Juliana. The priest did an awesome speech..he asked them why they were here..and then demonstrated the difference between loving each other or being used to each other with the example of the bread and cheese dinner every day. I was truly impressed. After the ceremony the couple went out to the church yard and a Mexican band was waiting for them with music. First they danced with each other then with relatives. After this they went to the official ceremony (only the family went with them, the guests including me had some free time until 9pm). At 9 I went to the tourist office again, they hired a minibus for the tourists (certainly not for free) and we went altogether to the party..The first 30 minutes were very serious..which very quickly turned around and in about an hour you saw the 70 year old Bolivian lady dancing with the 20 year old English guy or the Hungarian girl dancing with the 60 year old Bolivian granddad. It was hilarious..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzM2ph0nc6o

The cake distribution was another impressive moment:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38qU25xxwLM

I lasted till 3..and then I left. I lost the key of the hostel so I had to wake up the owner of the hostel..it’s a family and a 10 year old little girl let me in.

Next day I was running around to develop pictures and write them on CD, once it was done I left them with Carlos, walked around a bit and caught the 22.00 bus to La Paz. My God..it was truly the toughest night trip since I started travelling…it was 10 degrees outside and 5 in the bus..everyone was coming with 2 blankets and i didn’t know that in Bolivia you don’t have blankets supplied so I had none!! I begged the driver to turn on the heating but I don’t think it was working. Slept nothing, arrived to La Paz at 6am, took a cab and went to the hostel to sleep. At midday I woke up and went out to explore. I booked both the Death Road bike tour and the Rurrenabaque Pampa’s tour…very happy! In the evening I had a few drinks..I stayed in the biggest party hostel..which was a mistake. Screaming 20 years old blond English/Dutch girls and zoned out people coming back in the morning from Ruta 36..what is ruta36? It’s a cocaine bar, moving around in La Paz. Ruta 36 is the address u need to give to the taxi driver if you want to go there. I didn’t. I went out for dinner to the Steakhouse and had Lama steak..The taste is similar to lamb, so I didn’t like it too much but I had to try it. The next day early start, I went to the Valle de la Luna:

After I went to the market…and bought a few things…about 6 kilograms to send home. To be honest if I had been aware of the costs of sending home stuff from Bolivia I might not have gone near the market..but hey..I will be very happy opening them up when I am home..FACT.

In the evening I had dinner with 3 girls from the Isle of Wight and went to sleep to be fresh and relaxed for the Wednesday activity, the Death road.

So early start in the morning, 7am I had to be at the El Solario hostel. We had breakfast there, picked up our gear and jumped into the minibus. Then when we arrived close to the death road we mounted the bikes and started the adventure. The first hour was easy..on concrete, going down fast, but then we arrived to the proper dangerous narrow stony road. Our guide went first always and we followed. He was pretty fast. At the beginning I went a bit slower but then got used to the road and reached the speed of 60km/h..we crossed rivers and took edgy curves. This was the road:

The landscape was pretty amazing. In the end I came 4th out of 18 J We had lunch in a restaurant and the biggest surprise was that the owners were Hungarians. And the funny thing is that there was another Hungarian guy, Zoli who was travelling in South America. The owner (Laci) said that every half year there is one Hungarian passing by..how cool that he had on one day 2!! This was the crew:

Unfortunately a guy from Izrael fell with the bike and had to have his chin stitched..it was bleeding badly..but we didn’t go back to La Paz until everyone had lunch and had a dip in the swimming pool..I heard that this is normal..2 weeks ago a guy broke his shoulder but lunch and swimming was still priority before the hospital..Laid back population..We got some stats on deaths /year..it’s about average 10 people..quite high number if you think about it.

In the evening I met Verana again in La Paz in my hostel!! We were happy to see each other and planned on going out but it failed on my behalf. So we just had a few drinks with her and Darran (Irish guy, he was on the same death road tour).

On Thursday I woke up early, went to Killi KIlli mirador. View from it to La Paz:

Then to the post office to send home the stuff. I had a set lunch on the market, then headed to the airport to catch the plane to Rurrenabaque.

Imagine a mini plane like this:

I arrived in the evening, took a motor taxi and went to the Tucano hostel. Surprisingly Darran was on the check in list, so i thought we were doing the Pampa tour together which we did.

In the evening I walked around, had some dinner..I was suffering though because meanwhile I was chatting to the Hungarians after the death road i got bitten by sun flies…annoying little creatures..the bites are not only itchy but after a few days your legs look like you were beaten up and it hurts a lot too.. By now they are gone luckily.

So the Pampa tour started next day with a 3 hour jeep ride on a very bad road. The team was great, Maki, Japanese lady, Darran, Dani, Argentinian girl, Marie from France, Fanny, from Holland, and 2 Izraeli girls.

We had lunch close to the place where we took the boat..lots of laughs and fun. Then we arrived to the boats, packed all our backpacks there and all the food for the 3 days met Tas our guide and the boat trip started..We saw a lot of animals already on the way…caimans, monkeys, lots of birds. Around 4 pm we got to the hostel, went to play football in the only field in the neighbourhood and went back for dinner. (food was awesome during the 3 days..our cook was top!) Oh before dinner we got introduced to Anthony the alligator..I played a bit with him..and touched him too..if I think back that I was afraid of frogs this is a massive achievement:

Evening activity: searching for alligators with head lights..so interesting their eyes are so bright

in the dark. We saw a few.. Upon arrival Tas introduced us to his rules…6.10 am we had to be by the boat next morning to see the sunrise. He said even if there was only one person by the boat he would leave.

We were 5 minutes late..the whole group except the Dutch girl with great team spirit who was by the boat. They left the 2 of them…7 people were standing there like pigeons waiting for Tas..we all thought he was sleeping. Eventually we figured out that he left with Fanny..and we were so pissed off. Another guide felt a bit sorry for us..or maybe he just realised that we paid for the tour and NO GUIDE CAN JUST LEAVE US THERE WITHOUT WARNING, so he took us out on his boat to see the sunrise..we just about caught it. Upon arrival I had to open my mouth and tell Tas that this behaviour is not accepted and next time please be a bit more flexible and give us at least one warning. Hehh..the answer was: there will not be a next time…Wow..my chin dropped.

The atmosphere wasn’t the greatest after this..after breakfast we went for anaconda search. This activity was on a small island and the previous group returned from it all muddy and wet until their bum. So we opted out with Dani and took some sexy pics instead:

I seemed to be the only one to be in fight with Tas so Darran tried to suggest the white flag policy but Tas was stubborn and hurt..well me too!

So in the afternoon we went to swimming with the dolphins..they were there but they seemed to have only little interest in playing with us..few of us went into the water once Tas reassured us on the lack of alligators and piranhas in the water when a dolphin is around..He also told a story about a girl who went into the water a few weeks ago and he vagina got bitten by the piranhas because she was on her period!!!!

We were pretty close to the dolphins but they didn’t swim with us…until the last minute when I felt that one swam under ,my hand…it was amazing experience..but as a first reaction I screamed a bit..Tas hated me for this too (and we were still in fight) so we left the place went to play volley ball and for dinner. In the evening we were in the hammock room where Tas made a ring to Dani saying to her that she was the only one who wasn’t Hypocratic….hahh!

But..I think he might have had bad conscious because before i was going to bed he shaked hands with me. That was his way of apologizing. I was fine with it..

Oh a few pics on the Refugio we stayed in:

Oh and I forgot to say that I fed monkeys just before dinner, Tas gave me bananas from the kitchen but he didn’t tell me that i am not supposed to give him straight away the whole banana..

 

Next morning we did a second attempt to see the sunrise..This time everyone was 5 minutes earlier than the meeting time..and we saw a lot of animals:

Then after breakie we went to Piranha fishing..I didn’t get any, the whole boat got 3:

Then lunch, saying bye to the camp and we made our way back where the jeeps dropped us. On the way monkey feeding:

Tas got mad at me again for giving the monkey the whole banana…..i couldn’t do anything right on this trip 🙂

In the end we said bye to him, gave him a nice tip…and even though he seemed to hate me I got the biggest hug and he suggested me to come back right now for another 3 daysJ

Jeep ride back to Rurrenabaque was horror..Maki left her backpack in the camp which made her things complicated…also there was a 2-3 days of road blocking coming from Monday in the whole Bolivia..You couldn’t get the correct info on it so I was hoping that if I fly back to La Paz early in the morning I would have a little chance to catch a bus straight to Copacabana..FAILED.

I was at the airport for the whole day with Marie (French girl), in the end I found a ‘dodgy’ taxi driver who was willing to leave at 3.30am in the morning with us to Copacabana for $100 (the people who block the road go to sleep this time..but again this is not sure..maybe they drank 50 cans of redbull and they wouldn’t move from the road. This blocking is physical blocking people are on the street with stones..if there is a car passing they throw the stones at the car. So fairly risky..but I didn’t want to spend one more day at the airport so we took the risk. It went all smooth..Arrived to Copacabana in the morning around 7, got a hostel, Marie left to Arequipa and I went for a walk..pretty cool little town. I went to bed early due to my 36+ hour sleeplessness..

Next day as of today I came to the Isla del Sol situated in the middle of Lake Titicaca. I am walking in the island ..it’s stunning..Tomorrow back to Copacabana and take the 13.30 bus to Cuzco to see Machu Pichu.

See some pics on the Isla del Sol. Bye everyone! X

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