Bolivia has the world's, , , ,
Highest Navigable Lake - Lake Titicaca (photos 1-3) - it's amazing to think it's up at 3800m+ high, the size of a small sea and it looks like it, beautiful colours and landscape, and the Isla de Sol (Island of the Sun) the legendary Inca creation site. This was a nice tranquil (the last I was to enjoy for a while) few days to start in Bolivia.
Highest Capital City - La Paz - At 3700m it wasn´t just the altitude which left you breathless, the hustle & bustle of this busy city, it was always full of activity and event. There´s load of street markets, most strange was the `witches market´ sells all sorts of mysterious items (photo 5). Everyone has something to sell or service to offer, (photo 6) shows two of the most common, rent your mobiles and shoeshine boys. I meet up with various people from Cusco in La Paz and enjoyed the surprisingly good bars and restaurants in La Paz, but (photo 7) shows one of the stranger locations I ended up in, with Ron a Dutch lad, between both our asking in broken Spanish, we ended up at some local rock gig where the crowd were going mental, we didn´t really know what was going on but it was quite entertaining! There is desperate poverty in Bolivia and clearly a huge gap between haves and have nots, it was hard to deal with the fact it was so cheap and easy to enjoy life there for us whilst so many around were struggling to survive. Its a very unstable country with many political, economical and social problems, (photo 8) shows yet another protest which are all to common (luckily no riot this time).
Most Dangerous Road - from La Paz down to Coroico - a few buses and lorries plummet off the edge each year and with drops of up to 1000m (1km)! you can tell why so many die. It was a spectacular location starting at 4700m and descending over 3000m down through ice, clouds, rain, mud, dust and finishing in hot jungle (photos 9-14). Going down on the mountain bikes was no problem, my hand ready over those brakes the whole time, but the journey back up by bus was a lot scarier, getting a clearer look at those drops!
Largest collection of Dinosaur footprints - near Sucre a strange tour this one, the footprints are observed on a mountain side as the movement of the Nasca plate has pushed them into an upright position over millions of years (photo 16). Still another fact ticked off the list.
Highest City - Potosi - at 4090m thank god I was so well acclimatised, this hight could cause serious headaches amongst offer things. The main attraction here (if you can call it that) was the Silver Mines. I did a tour, quite possibly the most crazy so far, first buying some dynamite, then going far far inside, slipping and banging all over the place, then watching the miners load the dynamite into drilled holes (photos 17-20). Well I didn´t get a photo of the explosion, the one bit of safety that was shown was to move us away before. A crazy few hours and I was pleased to see daylight, these workers work long shifts and in some harsh conditions, but seem happy enough chewing away on Coca and sipping there 96% alcohol!
Largest (and no doubt highest at 3600m) Salt Flats - Salar de Uyuni - this was truly one of the highlights of my trip so far, an incredible surreal landscape, and the bizarre cactus island bang in the middle just added to the surrealness (photos 21-24). This was part of a 3 day tour of the far southwest, other landscapes where high desert plains with volcano´s and highly coloured Flamingo lakes (photo 27) and Geysers.
Highest Geyser basin - at 4950m these were well cool, the photos don´t do it justice (photos 29+30), the pressure the gas was come out at, and the sound was amazing. Great stuff.
Bolivia is a fascinating if crazy country and clearly messed up in many ways, it was testing and wearing but always interesting and worth the effort.