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bolivia on the way to the mountains
Written by sophie et jeremy   
Saturday, 04 November 2017

We leave Santa cruz to the west, on a beautiful road under construction. In Bolivia, it means that the roads doesn't exist and that you have to make your way in between the trucks and mechanical shovels, and sometimes passings by improvized fords. On top of that, the slopes are steep, and local fuel of bad quality. Our 4WD produce a dense cloud of smelly smoke (sometimes black, sometimes white) just like all the few other diesel vehicules. Along the road, we notice that the population is more in favour of the current government, with a lot of painting "Evo si 2020-2025" !

evo si evo si

Our first stop is at 2000m high, at the Inca site of El Fuerte. We can't see much , only the basements having resisted the time passing, but the location of the site is for sure gorgeous!

el fuerte 1 el fuerte 1 el fuerte 4 el fuerte 4

el fuerte 3 el fuerte 3 el fuerte 2 el fuerte 2

In order to adapt ourselves to the altitude, we decide to stay around and find a camping site next to a (almost) natural swimming pool but a bit cold... The next day, with the same goal, we go to the limit of the primal forest and its giant tree ferns, and after a brief visit in samaipata where we give a lift to a french argentinian couple, we start to climb our first 3000+ meters high passes. The drive gets slower and we soon find ourselves in a deep fog, hiding the construction zones, but in between the clouds we get to see breath-takings views!

piscine inca piscine inca yungas yungas

Second touristic stop at the Incan ruins of Incallajtas, 2900m, and once again , nicely located at the end of a suprisingly well cobbled road.

incallajtas incallajtas incallajta incallajta

The next day, after some difficult high passes, we arrive in Cochabamaba, big city located 3000m above sea level, and where we can eat the best empanadas of the country !

route route

Here, we make a big mistake : after only one night and a small walk to adapt the altitude, we drive up to 4600m in Tunari national park, and we go and walk 2h in the cold (under the hail). Troubles come fast : very strong headache (Sophie is tempted by decapitation) and mandatory emergency drive down to 3500m for the night. Altitude sickness got us, but at least we got to see our first lamas !

col brouillard col brouillard rando 4600 2 rando 4600 2

So we forget about climbing the 5000m high Tunari volcano, and prefer to drive to Sucre, historical capital of the country. On our way, we see more beautiful landscapes and thousands of flying plastic bags. Environement protection is at its very beggining here, and any nice spot along the road is commonly used as a dump!

gorge gorge route route

village village cactus cactus

Another thing we don't quite understand in Bolivia is how to fuel one's car. On our first attempt, the pump attendant refused to fill up our tank, and instead asked us a can which he could fill, and we would later transfer into our tank a few meters away from the gas station. And the story is the same in other stations. Actualy, there are 50% subsidies for fuel in Bolivia, for all nationals. Gas stations would have to sell to us full price because of our french license plate (as they are observed by CCTV). But for some reason, they simply prefer to give us fuel in cans, just like for bolivians driving cars without a license plate (and they are a lot !). With the time we get used to it, the cans, and the lack of funnel, dangerously replaced by half a plastic bottle.

autruche autruche

 

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