Dear blog readers! We arrived at the Titicaca Lake after a short but impressive ride through Bolivia. We heard so many bad things about Bolivia before we got here and were a bit anxious of traveling through this beautiful and versatile country. First of all we heard about the most corrupt cops in South America – we haven’t had a single encounter with the local police. Every check point on the road we were just waved through – and most of the time with a smile. We also heard that the Bolivianos are unfriendly – they might not be as outgoing as the Argentinians or the Chilenians but once you get in touch with them they are super sweet, friendly and helpful. They might have a shyness against foreigners but that is kind of cute. About the food in Bolivia – we heard that the food is bad and tasteless but we can’t confirm that at all. All the food we had was delicious and had a lot of character. So Bolivia is a country we certainly want to spend more time next time we come to South America. As I mentioned in our last blog update we started our trip into Bolivia with 4 Irish bikers. We rode the 200km from the border to the salt flats of Uyuni together. We checked in to our hotel – more to that in a minute – and went straight to the saltflats. It’s the legacy of a prehistoric lake that went dry, leaving behind a desert like, nearly 11,000-sq.-km. landscape of bright-white salt. First we had the impression to drive on a massive ice or snowfield just without being slippery at all. The salt has an amazing grip and goes on for miles and miles. The surface is so smooth that you can actually drive with your eyes closed. We drove to the monument that was raised for the Dakar Rally, which has been hosted in Bolivia a few times now. The entire monument is made out of salt blocks – well and so was our hotel! The “Palacio del Sal” was the first hotel in the world built from salt. The rooms have a roof created out of salt blocks and all pillars are made of salt as well. The service was first-class and the food in the hotel was amazing - I had my first taste of llama and it won’t be my last one! Early the next morning I went with John and Ambrose - 2 of my Irish friends - out to the salt flats for another photo session. The light was just stunning but the temperature dropped to -5 C, which is needless to say not the preferred temperature for riding a motorbike. After a long and full breakfast I needed to get rid of the salt that got stuck all over the bike – it took me almost an hour to get it all off! With the Penguin (our Yamaha Tenere motorbike) all shiny, clean and greased up we drove to Potosi.
Potosi is a mining town on over 4,000m altitude. The roads in Bolivia are pretty good – despite all the horror stories we heard. After spending 2 nights in Potosi and working our bellies through the delicious street food we were off to Sucre. Yes the name of the town is sugar and it is known for its chocolate. But Sucre is also the former capitol of Bolivia and the city center is full of beautiful colonial buildings. We met up with Pascal and Christina who we met already in Santiago and in Jujuy. Christina had to leave the day after to catch her flight back to Switzerland but Pascal joined us for another fantastic day on Bolivian roads. Via Cochabamba and Oruro we arrived in Mallasa – a suburb of La Paz. Once again the scenery was overwhelming. Surrounded by 6,000m snow-covered peaks we drove through a valley that reminded me on Bryce Canyon – just in the middle of town. For this trip we decided not to stay in La Paz and went instead straight to Titicaca lake, which is with 3,800m the world’s highest navigable body of water. The lake is beautiful and it is known as the birthplace of the Inca civilization. To get to Copacabana we needed to ferry the Penguin over the lake. The ferries offering the service are simple vessels that are more or less made out of wood planks nailed together and fitted with a small outboard motor. But at least we can say the Penguin was shipped over the highest shippable lake in the world.
Tomorrow we are off to Peru and off to new adventure so please stay tuned for the next update.