A Travellerspoint blog

Jungle time

Bolivian Rainforest

all seasons in one day 28 °C

Our adventure into the Bolivian rainforest started with a flight from La Paz over the Andes to a small tropical town called Rurrenabaque. We spent a night in a hostel in Rurrenabaque and then met our jungle guide called Cristian and the rest of our group - Australian twins called Hannah and Rebecca! We had a 3 hour boat ride to the lodge we were staying at called Mashaquipe. We had to stop off to register ourselves with Madidi National Park to make sure we abided by the strict rules. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain (surprising as we were in the rainforest) so we didn't see much wildlife. Emma managed to spot a capybara (largest rodent in the world) so we caught a glimpse of it before it dissappeared into the vegetation. We then dumped our stuff off at the lodge we were staying at before having a yummy lunch.

Mashaquipe lodge

Mashaquipe lodge

That afternoon we went for a walk in the jungle in wellies and stopped to look at lots of interesting insects, parasitic trees and squirrel monkeys. Some of the ants were the size of my thumb! The squirrel monkeys were so cute and leaping from tree to tree over our heads. We then got the boat back to the lodge and after another great meal we went searching for tarantulas. We didn't have to go far because all the palm trees next to our lodge had a resident tarantula bigger than my hand!

Tarantula

Tarantula

We got up nice and early at the time of 5.30am to have breakfast and trek to see the macaws. Emma was feeling poorly so we left her behind to drink the 'bark tea' that was going to cure her. As we walked through the jungle we saw toucans, hummingbirds that looked like bees until they came close and we tracked a herd of wild pigs/peccaries, there were loads of them and they didn't smell too grest but you could hear then cracking the nuts they ate. We then followed the track to the top of a cliff where we could see loads of pairs of macaws. They are beautiful but the sound they make is awful!

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We then descended down to the river and built a raft made of seven logs and then Cristian pushed us downstream to reach the lodge. It was so relaxing and we managed to see more wildlfe without the sound of a noisy motorboat. The only bad part was that I got eaten alive by sandflies and now I look like I've got chicken pox all over my legs! I met Emma at the lodge and she was feeling a bit better so we had lunch and then said goodbye to the twins as we went back to Rurrenabaque.

Posted by Ninirock 05:46 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Yeeehhhaaar! Cowboy Country (Tupiza)

sunny 28 °C

Tupiza was our next destination. It's a small town in the South of Bolivia, not far from the Argentinian border. It's where the Sun Dance Kid was set (although I've never seen it so I'll take other people's word for it). The bus from Sucre to Tupiza was 15 hours long and we'd planned to arrive at a sensible time but when we got to the Sucre bus terminal they told us our bus had been stuck in a blockade and we'd have to get the next one! I'm not sure if this was true or whether they just didn't have enough takers for the early bus! At least when we arrived in the early morning our beds were ready. We splashed out (7 pounds a night) on a private room and we definitely happy about it! The breakfast in this hotel was great and we had a pool tha we spent two days relaxing by. We felt pretty lucky as we were told it was snowing at home hehe!

One of the days we went on a horseride through the red-rocked canyons and the dusty landscape scattered wih cacti. We were kitted out with cowboy hats and I rode a horse called Tabaco! The views were stunning but we were a bt sore fter 5 hours of horseriding so we were definitely glad to have a pool to go back to!

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Posted by Ninirock 10:04 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

La Paz, Bolivia's (shopping) capital!

sunny 18 °C

We took the overnight bus from Tupiza to La Paz. We arrived in the morning so it was light enough to see La Paz in the steep valley with the giant snow-capped mountin of Illimani towering over the city. It was a nice welcome into the city but the mix of valley, high altitude and lots of pollution doesn't make breathing very fun! During our stay in La Paz we weren't very cultural, all we seemed to do was eat and shop. There are so many shops and stalls selling (supposedly) alpaca wool products for very cheap prices. Although Emma and I weren't very experienced at bartering we found that for once being very indecisive helps as they take the prices down so quickly if you hesitate. So we actually got some very good bargains, it's just a shame I don't have space in my backpack for presents for everyone at home because I was thinking of you all!

From La Paz we did a trip into the jungle and tropical wetlands on the other side of the Andes )see my other blog entry that I'll try to write soon) and then we popped back to La Paz for another day for more shopping and night before contnuing our journey north.

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Posted by Ninirock 09:39 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Sucre, Bolivia - One of Bolivia's Capitals

sunny 22 °C

Our welcome into Sucre wasn't what we'd hoped for - we arrived at 4am, the road was so windy and went through the highest city in the world (Potosi) and to top it off our hostel had given our beds away! Luckily they didn't chuck us out onto the street but we had to sleep in the TV room! The next few days we just chilled out at the hostel, not really out of choice but because we'd got the common problem of 'Bolivia belly' so we were quite glad we'd already decided to stay in Sucre for a while which gave us time to recover!

During our stay in Sucre we took Spanish lessons. My classes were at 8-10am, nice and early which gave me the rest of the day to do things but not much sleep considering there were some deafening snorers in our dorm! The market in Sucre is amazing. There's so much fresh fruit and veg which is so cheap to buy - I've never seen so uch fruit and veg in one place! So we ended up cooking in the hostel once a day. You can also go out for lunch and get a good 3 course set meal for £2-3! There were lots of cool people in the hostel so we ended up chatting in the hostels most nights.

We went rock climbing one afternoon . At first we were a bit worried because Bolivia doesn't have nearly the same health and safety regulations as us and it seems anyone can just set up a tour group. However we found that our guide was actually really good and at least gave us helmets and shoes unlike the other group! At first I found it scary but I think I improved quite quickly when I didn't look down!

Climbing

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We went out for dinner with the guide and the couple that were in our group. He asked if we wanted to go with them tomorrow to a canyon two hours out of Sucre and we said why not?!

We got picked up from the hostel the next day. The two hour journey went really quickly as we passed the country people herding their cattle, goats and donkeys and views of different valleys and of course listening to what seems like Bolivians favourite music - 80s power ballads. Hannah or any pop tarts fan would've been in heaven! We stopped off in a village at the bottom of a warm valley called Icla. We then clambered down to a cliff edge that overlooked a canyon, which we were expected to rappell down despite never having done it before! It was so scary as we couldn't see where we'd be landing. After Emma and I had been 100% sure we weren't going to do it we found the courage from somewhere (after two people had gone down before us) and did it. I don't think I've ever shaken so much in my life!

Canyoning

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We then walked, swam and jumped in the warm water running through the canyon. It was definitely worth the scary start because clambering through the canyon was incredible! Afterwards we had a great lunch which was needed after the canyoning.

Clambering in the Canyon

Clambering in the Canyon

During the rest of our stay in Sucre we visted the Indigenous textile museum, which was very interesting as we read about the different groups and their customs. We also went to the Sunday market at an (prodominently) indigenous town south of Sucre called Tarabuco. The bus was incredibly slow but its not surprising when there's just a steep dirt road to go along. The market was full of traditional Bolivian textiles and crafts. We also ate in the market which was a good experience, I was just a bit worried about what my belly would think of it! Fortunately I was ok! We were warned that some people make you pay a tourist price so we had to ask around first to get an idea if prices - although I wouldn't have argued about the difference of 50p!

We ended up almost spending two weeks in Sucre in the end. It seems to be what happens - most people say they're going to stay for a few dys but end up staying weeks! We were ready to move on to our next destination.

Posted by Ninirock 15:28 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Salar de Uyuni - Bolivian Salt Flats

sunny 10 °C

Our trip to Bolivia started with an early pick up from our hostel. Two girls we met at the hostel, Erin and Lisette, also arranged to go on the same tour. The bus climbed up to the Bolivian border pretty quickly. The border is literally a line drawn in the dirt and is at 4000m. We got out of the bus feeling a bit light-headed and got our passport stamped in the hut they called customs. We then had breakfast and got split into 2 groups - us 4 girls, an Australian called Laurence and a German called Torsten. We visited so many beautiful lagoons, which were all different colours from blue to green to red. I can't describe how pretty they were, even the photos I took don't do them justice. We also visted some hot springs, which was so lovely and warm. The view was incredible with a herd of llamas walking across the lake in front of us. They were domesticated and wore funny earrings.

We drove along in the 4x4s and had stops on the way where we got out, walked around and took photos. We stopped at bubbling geysirs, lots of lagoons which were all different colours from blue, green and red and lots of crazy rock formations! There were lots of flamingos on the red lagoon (Laguna Colorada). The strange colour was because of the algae that live there and apparently the colour gets more intense as the day goes on.

Laguna Honda

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Unfortunately on the first day of the tour I was feeling the effects of the altitude and slept for an hour instead of eating lunch. This made me feel a bit better but I still felt like I was suffering from the World's worst hangover! Everyone went to bed early that night because of the altitude - the hostel was 4200m!

We woke up early to get to the next hostel before its dark because electricity is a bit limited there. Noone told us that the toilets were limited in quality though - luckily Emma and I bought our own toilet roll and have perfected our 'hovering' technique because this is definitely a place you need it!

We passed more beautiful lagoons and rock formations. Each turn we took revealed a stunning site and made us feel like we were on a different planet.

We passed wild vacunas, ostriches and a viscacha which is like a rabbit with a squirrel tail! We drove through a town which lives off growing quinoa. We then drove to a hostel next to the salt flats (Salar de Uyuni). The hostel walls, its furniture and floor were all made of rock salt! We had a great dinner and some wine and then went straight to bed as we had to get up early to catch the sunrise over the salar.

Sunrise at Salar de Uyuni

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We put our backpacks on the roof of the car and then drove towards the sunrise. We were the first people this year that our guide, Miguel, had taken tourists across this part of the salar. This is because during the rainy season there's too much water for the cars to drive through. The layer on top of the water was so still it was a perfect reflection of the sunrise, it was amazing!

We stopped for breakfast and took about a million photos which hopefully will turn out well. We stopped off afterwards to see the salt museum, ojos de sal (bubbling pools of salty water) and the place where they pile up salt for extraction. We continued to a small town called Colchani where we had lunch and then went onto the town of Uyuni where our tour ended. It was a bit disappointing to see the town was surrounded by rubbish because everything we'd seen over the past couple of days was so beautiful. So we decided to get a night bus straight out of there to go to Sucre.

Posted by Ninirock 16:21 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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