Ride and River – Bike

Directly after Huyana Potosi I had my next adventure planned. Cross by bike and boat from La Paz to Rurrenabaque. Or at least, that’s how the company advertised it. Luckily for us, there was also a lot of car involved, so that we only needed to ride the down hill parts and not the uphill parts. Or almost. Starting at the highest point of the road to

Sorata, our first day took us down some dirt roads into Sorata, where we spent the night. While I was still getting used to the bike, I tried to take it slow. However, the pure fun of speeding down a dirt road quickly overrode my desire to stay safe and I found myself speeding down the slopes and the bikes did pick up speed nicely. The only thing more fun than speeding down the hills was crossing the numerous streams on the road.. I ended up covered in a lot of mud, but grinning like a mad person.


The next day, our car drove us up the mountain again, to this time drop down to Consata. The roads started getting much more narrow and much steeper scaring me quite a bit. I did see us tumble down the ravine more than once. But our driver had it all under control. At the highest point we unpacked the bikes and raced down. We stopped in a small town and set up our lunch tables in the plaza, while a local cook supplied us with a nice hot soup. From there we went further down, dropping almost 4 km in altitude in a single day. As we went down, we shed some clothing, slowly but surely ruining every layer of clean clothes I had brought.


The final day had a couple of unexpected surprises.. We had been told that there would be a slow, gradual incline because the miners had destroyed the original road and the replacement road built went up the mountain and back down rather than just plane alongside the river. Since the road was new, we’d be measuring out the climb, but it surely wouldn’t be more than two to three kilometers. Well, as it turns out the climb was anything but gradual and about seven kilometers long. Making us quite proud to have conquered the road, even if I had to get of the bike repeatedly when it got just too steep. The next surprise was also provided by the miners. After making it up and down the mountain in quite good time (as only a few people decided to do the ride up anyways), we were all happily on our way towards the lunch place. A nice riverbank with the option to swim.. Dusty as we were, we were all fantasizing about jumping into the water.

But that never happened. About a kilometer before the river we hit a road block. Miners were working above the road and all the debris they didn’t need was being pushed down hill onto the road we were meant to cross. As we learned this is a typical Bolivian experience, the miners will close down the road for the day to be able to work, then plow over the road at the end of the day to make it crossable again. Even though we did not want to, we were looking at a couple of hours just sitting around and waiting. Every attempt to sway the miners to stop working for a bit and let us pass failed. We did make the best out of it though, by having lunch there and we got lucky. At 3pm, rather than 5pm, the miners stopped working and half an hour later the road had been cleared and we could pass.
This allowed us to do our final ride into Mapiri still in day light. Arriving into Mapiri was absolutely marvelous, small kids were lining the streets waving hello, cheering us on and holding out there hands for a quick high-five while passing by. I imagine that’s how the final leg of a bike rae might feel. I definitely enjoyed myself riding up.

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Huayna Potosi

It took a while for me to work up the courage to actually sign up for this and while I was cursing at myself for doing it, while I was doing it. It is now one of the most amazing things I’ve done in Bolivia. What did I do? I signed myself up to climb a 6000m high mountain.
I had seen an ad for an independent mountain guide, German Fernández Leon, and once I saw his positive reviews on trip advisor, I decided to contact him. It turned out to be a great call. He was a quiet but thorough guide, had amazing equipment, nice cooking skills and made the overall trip quite enjoyable. As enjoyable as torturing yourself a mountain can be. If you are in need of a guide in La Paz, go to him.


The trek can be done in two or three days, but I would definitely recommend three if you’re a beginner. The first day is spent at ‘base camp’ acclimatizing and showing you the ropes with the gear and giving you a first taste of what ice climbing is like. As it turns out, I’m really not gifted in that aspect.. Out of three attempts to climb the wall, I lost foot and fell three times.. Luckily the guide caught me each time, so I live to tell about this great accomplishment.
After that first day, I was seriously scared and ready to abort. If I’m not able to climb up the ice-walls at 4700m, how will I ever cope at 6000m? If I’m out of breath now, how will it be like at the second camp? But if there’s one trait that runs in our family it is stubbornness and once I set out to do something, I do it or I die trying.. (at least that’s how it felt at times).


The next morning we packed up all the gear and food we’d need for the next two days and set off for the first real hiking part up to the second mountain hut. First a lovely little stone building came into view. Then the hut we were actually staying in appeared. It had slightly less charm.

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To my surprise we reached it just a couple hours later with a medium amount of swearing and sweat involved. The rest of the afternoon was left for ‘resting’, which I didn’t take too seriously until I figured out that the next day would start at 1am. The second day left me very confident.. I’d done the first section in just a bit over 2hours, I could still breath. I had this, it would be easy.


In the mountain hut I met a group from another agency also attempting the climb. We started exchanging stories and I realized that my guide had scheduled us to leave later than the rest. Even though I had the all the confidence in me and in him, this felt a bit too daring. Before I could worry too much about this, however, another issue arose: Clouds spilling in from everywhere and hiding the mountain top and the valleys from view. As it turned out (and as the guides had predicted), the clouds didn’t last long and we got a wonderful, almost cloud free sunset.

Since I didn’t want to leave after all the others, we got up at 12am and left at 1am, like everyone else.. The third day or rather night was simply amazing. If you can time it right, go during the full moon. We made almost no use of our lights and walked through the sparkling snow by moon light. Absolutely marvelous.. if it weren’t for the fact that I was constantly craving more air and not getting it. After setting off at a rather fast pace (for me.. the guide seemed rather unchallenged by the speed.. not to say bored ;)), we caught up to the first group of climbers. At this point, the guide realized that he’d been right and we should’ve left much later.

What followed was a very chill climb with lots of long breaks as not to arrive too long before the sunrise on top of the mountain. When I say very chill, I would still like to point out that I was constantly out of breath and my body was hating me and my decisions, but we did take nice, long breaks. After about 5-6h of climbing we reached “the final” part, the one difficult stretch in the entire climb. It couldn’t have been at the bottom when we were still fresh and motivated. No it had to be on the final 200m. Luckily it was still dark, so I couldn’t quite make out how far down it dropped on both  sides of the ridge or I probably wouldn’t have been all that willing to cross it in the first place.

This was the one place, where I was really thankful for being attached to the guide. We crossed the ridge quite quickly, so quickly in fact that I ended up being very out of breath and had to plead for a break. We stopped in a wind-shielded corner (the one were the people are standing in the picture on the left) and after I had recomposed myself, I asked how much further it was to the top. The answer? 5 meters. It was literally just above us.. We waited in the wind-shielded corner a little longer, until the sunrise announced itself and finally climbed to the top. The sunrise was amazing, the view that unfolded afterwards even better.

What took six hours to climb up, only took about two to go back down.. But I did try to make it interesting by face planting on flat, loose snow about three minutes from the mountain hut.. When I managed to get my face out of the snow, I could see that my guides reflexes had kicked in and he was securing me with the rope, making sure I wasn’t sliding anywhere. On the flat snow, however, it mostly looked very funny to me.

 

Tiwanaku

Close to La Paz lies one of the most important historical ruins of the country: Tiwanaku. A culture predating the Inka and, probably, their forerunners, built some of their biggest temples just fifteen kilometers from lake Titicaca.. Or rather, directly on the border of lake titicaca which has since dramatically changed in size. The culture disappeared around 1200AD, before the Inkas or the Spanish arrived in the area.

It is believed that the Inkas descent partially from the Tiwanaku. At least they imitated their building techniques. And those are quite remarkable. Not only did they use cubes of perfect proportions, seemingly cut by lasers. They also used metal fortifications to link the different cubes to each other and make their buildings more durable.

Unfortunately they made their calculation without the Spaniards, who had heard that there were precious metals in the stones. So today one can see a deep hole where the center of the pyramid used to be.. (top left) No precious minerals were found.. But most of the stones found a re-use in the surrounding churches and the pyramid style temple is mostly no more. Luckily the temple fell in disuse before the Spanish arrived. By the time the Spanish arrived, the “underground” temple had been completely covered up with dust and this led to it being nicely preserved for us today. I found the hundreds of faces on the walls particularly interesting. Although, I do not fully buy the claim that there’s aliens, chinese people and all ethnicities represented.

After having seen the sky high (pyramid) temple and the underground (or lowered) temple, the one remaining was the ‘ground temple’. Which contains the most interesting artifacts. In particular the sun gate and the big statues. The carving on those reminded me of Central America. The figures are very intricate with many details. Something that seems to have completely disappeared in the Inka culture.


Unfortunately we had to take many things at face value since none of the artifacts can be found in their original position nowadays. People tried to move them, they started breaking and they wisely decided to leave them in the position they were currently at. So the puerta del sol, no longer greets the sun at equinox, but it has been split in two. Nor are the big speaking stones in their original position.

But there is still enough left to glance the grandeur of that place, back in the days.

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Tiwanaku also helped me better understand why Thor Heyerdahl (remember the guy from the Easter Islands saying the Inka’s had visited there) thought there might be a connection. The central statue and it’s posture certainly has a similarity with the giant heads on the Easter Island and the construction techniques with the clean cut stones is mirrored in one of the pedestals for the moai on the Easter Island.

La Paz

City of two million inhabitants on incredibly steep slopes. A bustling, crazy hub where everything can be had. This is easily the city I’ve liked most in South America so far. Even though someone used the opportunity to claim my phone as his own. The trick is, apparently, well known. But I found out about it too late. If someone throws crumbs at your back or blows soap bubbles in your ears DON’T turn around. Lock down all your valuables and keep on going. If you turn, the distraction will be used to pickpocket you.

Apart from that, La Paz has a lot to offer. The first thing I have to mention, because it’s been a recurring theme: They do have peanut soup! After two weeks of driving through Bolivia without getting peanut soup, I finally ended up finding it in the local markets. I also found plenty of great other local food. Api, buñuelo, choyra, aji de papalisa, etc. For less than two dollars, you can get a lunch menu with soup, main dish and sometimes dessert. For a dollar you get a delicious hot corn drink and deep fried pastry for breakfast. Another thing I found is someone to fix my beloved hiking boots! It was done in less than two minutes too.

Our hostel was right in the center of the witches market. What looks like a tourist market, with tons of colourful tissues on display, takes a dark turn on the street corners, where you can buy everything from a love potion to a llama fetus. Lama fetus are an important donation to Pachamama, mother earth. It is buried in the foundation of a house to guarantee the good will of Mother Earth for that building. Bigger buildings necessitate bigger sacrifices and urban myth has it, that for big projects human sacrifices are brought. We chose not to investigate further, although the local guide swore it was absolutely true.

La Paz also has a lot of history to share. During the red cap walking tour, I learned about the infamous (and pink) San Pedro prison. A low-security prison where everyone wants to go, because it’s basically just a small town inside the town. Mostly, because the cells inside the prison are in such high demand, that you need to pay rent to stay there. Part of the appeal is that your family can come and live with you. They are free to leave whenever they want and live a normal life entering and exiting the prison many times a day. When you need to pay rent, you need to have an income and so a city formed where people buy and sell services, produce shoes and, supposedly, the cleanest cocaine in all of Bolivia.

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A lot of the more recent history in La Paz was rather bloody and violent. As a reminder of this and the standoff between police and army in front of the government buildings, some of the house walls have been left unrenovated. One can still see the bullets that hit the police caserne opposite to the president palace not 20 years ago.

 

 

Lastly La Paz has one of the most original public transport systems in place: The gondolas. Absolutely amazing for us tourists to see the city, I’ve been told it’s too expensive for most local to use. It remains a nice gimmick for us though. One of those gondolas leads up to El Alto famous for the worlds largest market with over 5km length and the Chollita wrestling. The market was … complicated, we somehow never made it out of the section that shows you the used car parts. But we’ve been told you can get absolutely everything there, you just need to know where.

 

 

The chollita wrestling was absolutely amazing. For one it was clearly visible that this is a joint effort, that the two wrestlers collaborate to pull of their more impressive stunts. For second these ladies manage to pull those stunts off in their traditional outfits, containing up to seven layers of skirts. The flying skirts added their own drama to the show, much more than any tight wrestler outfit could.

The most famous tourist activity in La Paz, however, is something else: The death road. Named this way when it was still dangerous. Back in the day, the death road was the only road up or down into the valley. It was barely large enough for one car, let alone two going in opposite direction. Big cliffs, high speeds and drunken drivers did their rest to make this road the most accident prone and deadly road. However Bolivia’s government has since closed down this road for traffic and built a tarred, two-lane road on the opposite side of the valley.
Today the death road is only open to tourists on their bikes and barely carries any risk. It is a whole lot of fun to speed down the road, through rivers and cascades and amazing landscapes. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best weather.. It didn’t diminish the fun driving, but it did obscure the scenery.

Sucre

Originally we’d wanted to stop in Potosi but the height and the somewhat desolate picture of the city made us change our mind. After four days of isolation, we weren’t ready to face this. So we decided to move on directly to Sucre. Sucre is a lovely little city. A place to just waste away the days, with sunny weather, lovely hostels but still no peanut soup. We stayed here for two days and did literally nothing. The hostel sold beer, so it wasn’t even necessary to leave the place. Almost ever.


We did try out some nice new food and with my ticket to La Paz already booked for 8pm, I finally made it out of the hostel with my camera to walk the streets. In a way I’m happy my travel companions had quite a tight schedule and needed to move on.. Or I might’ve just wasted away day after day, sitting in the sun doing nothing. On the other hand, I’m a bit sad, that I didn’t spend days wasting away in the sun.. You can’t have it all can you.

salt flat tour – Day 4 – sunrise over the salt flats

The nice thing about the salt hotel was also that they actually had a fire place and lit a fire, so we had a rather nice and pleasant evening. Also, still no peanut soup. Even though the evening was nice, it was a short one. Because, we were informed, we’d surely want to see the sunrise the next morning over the salt flats. Right? Right. Ok, the best place to do so is in the middle, on the island incahuasi, meaning a good hours drive, so we’ll leave at 5am.. I surely had an urge to reconsider the entire sunrise idea. But the things you do while on vacation…

The next morning we got out into the bitter cold and drove to the island. About 20minutes into the salar our guide turned OFF THE LIGHTS of his car and drove in the pitch black. Slight unease spread across our group.. It took us a while to understand that he was using the barely perceptible mountain outlines in the distance to orient himself, as there are no real roads. Still, we couldn’t help but imagine what would happen if all cars did this.. or maybe they do. He reassured us that while collisions do happen in the salar, they’re never at night and the drivers are never sober.. I’m not sure that was very reassuring.

Once we reached the island, we paid our entrance fee and started climbing up the little mountain. Our guide said we had plenty of time to get to the top.. But what does he know? We tried rushing up the hill and quickly realized that the altitude was still quite high. 3700m high. We reached the top out of breath and then the wait set in.. Turns out our guide was right after all and we waited for the sunrise some thirty minutes. In the freezing cold. But it was all worth it once the sun came out. After that we slowly started our way back down and arrived at the bottom to a nice breakfast with home made cake! So nice.

After breakfast, the guide told us to “just walk” and he’d catch up with us after sorting out breakfast. He refused our offers to help. So we spread out. I bet he did not expect all five of us to split in different directions. But that’s what happened. You could probably walk for days on that straight white surface without ever getting everywhere. A fact that was confirmed a little later, in the car when we drove some thirty minutes without any change in scenery. Just whiteness all around us. He did manage to find us all, by the way, in case someone was worried.

And then things ended very quickly. After a short stop at the “museum” which is a bit of a must-skip and a souvenir market, we were back in civilization. The big train cemetery next to Uyuni was a bit of a disappointment to us: No shop to by beers here, guys! It’s also quite overrun, something we had become unused to over the last few days, when 10 people made a huge crowd. On the way into town we did end up seeing a few cool mirages though!

Arriving in Uyuni we were really happy to have chosen Tupiza as a starting point. Not only is the town smaller, it also seems much more inviting and welcoming than Uyuni. We had a last lunch together, after which our driver helped us sort out our transport to Chile.. Or almost. Snow! Again! In a very rushed decision we decided to give up on getting to Atacama and instead catch the bus to Sucre that was leaving in 5 minutes. Even though we could’ve chosen a detour to still reach Atacama the next day, the snow meant that a lot of the attractions were going to be closed. So the Atacama desert is the first big destination I decided to skip. But I’m still occasionally checking for deals on flights to Atacama… Maybe just Maybe I’ll make it there yet.

Salt flat tour – Day 3 – Laguna negra

Our driver gave us an option at the end of day 2: Stay up high and do the original tour. This would mean sleeping and freezing at 4300m, then passing an almost uncleared stretch, where we’d surely have to push the car to look at a few more frozen lagunas OR go down, sleep at a warm and cozy 3900m altitude and go on to see the stone formations of “Lost italy”, the “laguna negra” and “the anaconda”. Our decision was further facilitated by the fact that my guide book (well not mine, I have the habit of hijacking other people’s guide books to find the best of the best by comparing all the guide books) said one should ask the driver to please make a detour to see the laguna negra. As well as the fact that a few of us were feeling the effects of altitude sickness and all of us were feeling the effects of the cold. So we went down. Our guide announced that only the right side of the room had wifi, then started laughing, when we actually believed him. I guess we should’ve known that a place that doesn’t offer hot showers won’t have wifi either. Dinner was a nice local meal, but still no peanut soup. After the dinner we opened a bottle of wine and learned that the altitude affects you there too. I’ve rarely seen five people this drunk from a single bottle of wine.

 


The next morning we were woken by the smells of pancakes! While not traditional Bolivian food, they definitely were exactly what we were craving.
We left, not before fixing the flat of the car in front of us and set out to discover Lost italy.. or Italy lost, as our guide had written on the windshield of his car to help him remember the English name. Italia perdida is a bunch of crazy rock formations in a lovely red hue. We drove and stopped at many formations, the camel, the turtle and finally Italy lost, where our guide confided in us that it was originally named “Lost city”, but renamed into Lost italy to make it more attractive to tourists.

 


From the top of Italy we could already see the next laguna, where we were supposed to catch flamencos for lunch.. Or that’s what our guide said. It turned out not to be true. Of course. We also figured out that lamas don’t lay eggs as he claimed. Over time he really warmed up and tried to see what he could get us to believe and what not. He would’ve totally convinced us that lunch was donkey meat, if the guide next to him hadn’t broken down laughing as he said it. (Still no peanut soup, by the way).

 


After the flamencos we continued on to the laguna negra, an absolutely beautiful and peaceful place. We were quite happy that the swamp leading up to the lake was still frozen, so that we could reach it with dry feet. We spent an easy hour there, just enjoying the serenity of the place. Until some scary red-eyed ducks started acting up. We returned to our cars to find a lovely lunch set for us.. No donkey meat involved.

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From there on we drove to the anaconda, which turned out to be a river winding itself, like an anaconda, through the canyon. Quite impressive and a definitive test for those scared of heights. After that we set off for the salar.

 

A quick stop was done at an abandoned train station to try out the local beers, made with quinoa, coca or cactus. Cactus probably won, quinoa most definitely lost.

 

We were going to spend the night in a salt hostel. I had been imagining an igloo made out of salt.. Boy was I wrong. The salt hotel looks like any other house, only that the bricks are made of salt. Totally crazy. And no of course we didn’t lick the stones, we’d never!

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Salt flat tours – Day 2 – Reserva nacional de fauna andina Eduardo Avaroa

The night was cold. Very cold. And what was worse, still no peanut soup.
We had been warned that we would be sleeping in typical local housing. This means with no heating and little to no insulation. We had sleeping bags plus three covers and we felt like we were freezing to death. Another interesting experience that night was linked to the hight. I’ve never been this out of breath from turning over in my bed. But the morning came and with that the long awaited Reserva nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa. Quite a mouthful, eh?

We were the lucky first to be able to enter the national park after a long period of snow. This however, doesn’t mean that the park presented itself quite in the useful way. We became aware of this when our driver started sneaking pictures more and more frequently through his window. When asked, he confirmed that in the 20 years he’d been doing this tour he’d never seen that much snow in the park. Good for us. Even better was the stop before lunch.. Still slightly frozen we stopped at the hot springs.. and we weren’t the only ones, birds and vicuñas were also hanging around enjoying the warmth and the non-frozen water.


From there we drove to the Laguna Verde y Blanca. Our driver already told us to keep expectations low. Even though the laguna is reachable again we’d still need some wind to turn the laguna from a perfect mirror into the radiating green that gave it its name.
We arrived at the laguna and realized that it was still completely frozen. Not only that but we’d rejoined the main circuit of the salt flat tours and the number of tourists tripled.. There were almost 30 people there. Our guide stopped and told us we’d have lunch here and wait to see if the laguna would unfreeze in the mean time. It had the nice side effect that after twenty minutes all the other cars (except one) had left and we were completely by ourselves with the most amazing views.

The next thing that happened was that the one remaining car wouldn’t start. Our driver asked for permission to come to the rescue. Of course, we didn’t want to be responsible for those people being left behind. So we ended up spending almost two hours on the spot and in the end the laguna started unfreezing!! Almost simultaneously a light breeze picked up and revealed why the green lagoon is called the green lagoon.

Very happy (I think the other car may have been even slightler more happy than us when the car finally started) we drove on towards the laguna colorada, where the flamencos were waiting for us.. And the lamas and some quoiche.

Unfortunately by the time we arrived there, it was absolutely wind still again. So we didn’t get to see the coloring of the laguna colorada. We did get an absolutely lovely mirroring of the surrounding mountains though and we were quite distracted by the flamencos anyways.

 

Salt flats tour -Day 1- Southern Lipez

The next day, shortly after dawn we set off to enjoy the sights of southern Lipez. This is the main reason why you’d want to start the tour to the salt flats in Tupiza rather than Uyuni. This is only seen if you start or end in Tupiza and it’s sublime. The huge open altiplanos, the steep valleys and just overall awesome country side. I

t didn’t take long and we saw our first lamas and our first broken down bike. It turned out that our driver was not only a driver but also a mechanic, so we made a quick impromptu stop to help these guys out. This would become a recurring theme. At almost every stop our driver would pop open the hood of a car (rarely his own) and start fixing something.


After a while we arrived the first little village and saw first hand what the daily life there looks like. Including the innards of a lama hanging in the kitchen and the lama’s friend having a field day in the garbage until someone shooed it away. After lunch we came out to see that our car was missing a tire..

But it took only a few seconds and the tire was back in place and we were off. Towards more adventures, constantly climbing. When we reached the highest pass of the day, at 4900m, we were in for a bit of a surprise. We were the first group in a few weeks being able to do this tour, because the snow had finally thawed enough and the roads in the national park had been cleared for the SUVs to get through.. Or almost. At the path the snow looked more like spikes and covered almost the entire road.

After a short consultation, our driver asked us to please walk ahead while he and the car try to find a different way. It took a while, but finally we saw the car appear over a hill and where saved.


Our last stop was an old abandoned mining city. Supposedly abandoned because an old lady brought the pestilence at some time in the 18th century.. But we were only listening with half an ear. Chinchillas! Everywhere! With their cute tails…

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Tupiza

After an unsuccessful attempt to cross the border to Chile, we decided to go to Bolivia instead. The bus was headed to the border, where we needed to get off. Cross by foot and catch another bus to Tupiza on the other side. We arrived at Tupiza very early in the morning and were completely frozen through. We’d heard lots of horror stories about lack of hot water, dangerously contaminated food and the overall unfriendliness of the Bolivians.. None of which turned out to be true for us. After a small breakfast we did a tour of the agencies offering the salt flat tours, picking the one that straight out told us that our idea to do Tupiza – San Pedro de Atacama was a bad idea, because it offered only half a day in the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa (that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?). We also set up a bit of horse back riding for the afternoon, since it was still early in the day.
After that we went for lunch in one of the cheap lunch restaurants. The food was delicious, no one got sick. It didn’t include the amazing peanut soup everyone has been recommending to me unfortunately. But it was only the first day, so I wasn’t too worried.

The afternoon we set out with the horses to explore the surrounding area. The rock formations were amazing. The guide led us to the Puerta del Diablo, an opening in a rock wall. The canyon del Inca, a steep canyon and the Valle de los machos, so called because of the quite phallic shapes found in that valley. It reminded me of the valleys I had seen in Cappadocia a few years ago. But first we had to ride, slowly, through the village. It was a bit boring, but taught us some interesting things. Like the fact that bridges are for wimps and a true Bolivian will always cross the river directly. (This included the taxi driver driving us to our horses )

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During the village crossing the horses were very impressive. We had cars honking at us, dogs (almost) biting their legs and got absolutely no reaction. They remained completely chill.  The guide however got off his horse more than once to chase those dogs away. When we finally reached open terrain he looked at us and asked who felt comfortable with going for a gallop. Oh hell yeah. The beginners stayed behind with the guide, while we gave our horses free reign. It was absolutely amazing. I had no idea what a runner my horse was, it literally catapulted itself forward. When we finally came to a stop again, everyone had a huge smile on their face.


On the way back I had a talk with our guide and learned that my horse was, fittingly, called Sport. That he was a great runner over the first 700m and then lost speed dramatically and therefore was never really considered for competitions and that our guide only guided part time and worked the rest of his time in a stable breaking in their horses and competing with them in Dressage competitions. No wonder his horses where all so well trained!