Discovering Bolivia

I spent nearly 4 months in South America and travelled through Argentina, Uruguay, South Brazil, Iguazu Falls, Paraguay, Northern Argentina and over the border into Bolivia with a stay on Lake Titicaca.  From here I went into Peru and enjoyed a 10 day stay in Cuzco before walking the Inca Trail.   It is a continent I am very keen to get back to explore some more.

The local women are so incredibly colourful with their big swirling skirts and little bowler hats, even the children wore hats – and everyone had a friendly smile! A real highlight was a four day 4WD expedition from a remote village through magnificent canyon country to get to the Salar de Uyuni Salt Flat. Driving across this vast surreal landscape was amazing – and with flamingoes and Llamas around the colourful high Altiplano lakes it is perfect for budding photographers. The hot springs provided a welcome hot dip at the end of day three of our journey. Our third night was spent at a remote Army barracks and we had a 4am start where we drove through the dark back to the salt flats and got to watch one of the most amazing sunrises I have seen from on top of my little cactus island – the flat horizon stretched as far as I could see. My top tip for visiting the Uyuni salt flats – take sunglasses ! It is unbearably bright and glary.

Next day we head even higher to the town of Potosi famous for its silver mines where we head down into the mines suited up in special trousers with jacket, wellies, hard hat and head torch! An interesting day but sad to see how poorly treated and equipped the local workers are.

Travelling via Cochabamba with the largest statue of Christ in the world, beating Rio by a few cm’s, we head off the beaten track to volunteer at an animal orphanage for mistreated wild animals where I am mother to Capachin, Spider and howler monkeys! Some other volunteers have the daily task of “walking” the beautiful puma!

Exciting La Paz, the highest Capital city in the world is the gateway to our next adventure – Mountain Biking Down The World’s Most Dangerous Road (also known as “The Death Road”) 64kms of downhill riding, a spectacular descent of more than 3,600m from snow-covered high-altitude plains and mountain ranges down to the steaming Amazonian Jungle. After this exhilarating one day ride we continue to Rurrenabaque to the less touristy Bolivian side where the Amazon Jungle awaits us. Anard our guide for the next four days takes us deep into the rainforest where we spend our days exploring the waterways in a long boat, spotting wildlife from the banks of the Beni river, monkeys howling high up in the trees, sloth bears…and possibly to catch a glimpse of a jaguar. At night we go Cayman spotting by torch, fish for Piranha and I took a brave swim with pink dolphins at sunset! A highlight was tracking an Anaconda on foot through high grasslands! We found the legendery snake…and also some rattlesnakes!… My senses were alive and my nerves tested.

For me it was probably the most untamed and raw travel experience I’ve ever had. Bolivia is the ‘real South America’.