My July 2016 second visit to La Paz, Bolivia, included mountain biking Death Road, zip-lining over valleys and partying in the high altitude city. My first stay in La Paz ended with me needing to escape to a lower elevation due to altitude sickness. Not this time.
This great view of La Paz from Pirwa Hostel’s patio did not beat Death Road’s scenery
North Yungas Road, also known as Death Road* (Ruta de la Muerte in Spanish) was named by Inter-American Development Bank in 1995 as the world’s most dangerous road. The road’s 64 kilometre length, steepness, amazing scenery and infamous reputation make mountain biking down it a must-do day trip for adventure-seeking visitors to La Paz.
From the amazing Brazilian Pantanal I needed to get to La Paz, Bolivia. With no direct flights and one-way flights ridiculously expensive, the best mode was overland.
Leaving the excellent Hostel Road Riders in Corumbá, Brazil, Dana, Ela and I took a taxi to the Bolivian border. As an Australian, I obtained my Bolivian entry stamp easily. Not so Israeli passport holders Dana and Ela. Border officials shunted them around, asked for itineraries and bookings and treated them with disdain.
The Corumbá-Quijarro border crossing from outside a shop on the Bolivian side where I waited for Dana and Ela
After a few hours Dana and Ela still had not received their visas so I left the border for Puerto Quillaro’s La Brasilena train station. There I met New Zealanders Kyle and Anna who also wanted to buy a ticket on the Death Train to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Continue reading →
On Sunday the 21st of February, Bolivia held a constitutional referendum. The referendum determined if the 2009 constitution should be modified to allow the president and vice president to serve third terms. President Evo Morales, after winning the 2015 election, could then nominate for the 2020 election and serve until 2025 should he win. Although Morales was serving his third term at referendum time, his first term did not count as it began in 2006, prior to the 2009 constitution.
An advert promoting referendum participation on the back page of the BoA airline magazineContinue reading →
While in La Paz in mid February, I took a day tour to Mount Chacaltaya and Moon Valley. Little did I know what was to follow.
Mount Chacaltaya’s peak is more than 5,400 metres high. From La Paz the road is narrow and windy, passing landscapes both stunning and stark. The road ends at 5,300 metres where there is a refuge. My tour group experienced a bumpy voyage to the refuge in an ill-suited van. From the refuge one must hike to the top.
Chacaltaya was the world’s highest altitude ski resort until its glacier melted. Now the mountain hosts an observatory and is a tourist attraction. On clear days the views are amazing. The views this day were obscured by cloud, as is more likely during the summer wet season. In contrast, winter is colder and drier.
From Carnival in Cochabamba, in mid-February I caught a day bus to La Paz, Bolivia’s political (but not judicial) capital and most famous city.
Bolivian buses often feature salespeople temporarily coming on board to sell their wares, usually drinks or snacks. However, I have also been in the audience of a man selling a tonic (ginseng?) and cookbooks and a boy busker singing. On the Cochabamba-La Paz bus I bought Charque de Llama from a woman. Charque de Llama is a traditional Bolivian meal featuring dried llama meat, white cheese, corn kernels, boiled potato and hard boiled egg.
Charque de Llama on the bus from Cochabamba to La Paz
The road to La Paz passes by spectacular Andes scenery and high mountain passes, including one over 4,500 metres above sea level, or twice as high as Australia’s highest mountain, Mount Kosciuszko. Continue reading →