Around the World... One Journey at a Time. Around the World... One Journey at a Time.






Bolivia: Day 8

by Kathy 3. December 2007 08:00
<< Day 7: Tupiza to Potosí | Day 9: Sorata to Santa Rosa >>

 

Potosí to Sorata

 

Today we rode 410 miles from Potosí (in the southern altiplano) to Sorata (in the lush green mountains above La Paz). Of our figure "8" route through Bolivia, we were now finished with the long lower loop through the southern altiplano; now we were ready to head north and make a loop through the jungle areas. Since we had so many miles to cover, we did not stop for photos—we were just going, going, going. It rained and hailed on and off all day, and I was bundled up in multiple layers. Yesterday, during one of our brief stops, I had been eyeing Olivier’s head stocking with envy (a warm covering with a cutout for your eyes); I was thinking that I needed one of those to protect the icy hail and rain from cutting into my face. I had mentioned my wish to Ben yesterday evening, and he said, “We have two of those!” And he dug out two head stockings from his stash—he had bought them for our trip and forgotten about them. So today I felt like I was in totally luxury, giggling with joy inside my stocking, when the icy rain and hail would pour down on us.

The roads today were all paved until we reached the Lake Titicaca area. The first hour out of Potosí was pure fun, with twisty and fast mountain roads and fabulous vistas. Then the roads became straighter as we entered the flat high plains. We passed through Oruro quickly, and I regret not stopping to take a photo of the exquisite mining hat sculpture in the middle of a traffic circle. Here is a photo that I found online (courtesy of Aust):

We stopped for lunch in Caracollo, a tiny town, at a roadside café that catered to buses traveling to and from La Paz. As I was finishing my lunch, I noticed two young women who looked American sitting down at a nearby table. We hadn’t seen any other Americans in Bolivia, so I went over and met Rachel from North Carolina and her friend from Massachusetts; they were in Bolivia for 8 days, traveling by bus from Santa Cruz to La Paz, and then to the Lake Titicaca area—very nice people.

The 2-lane highway to La Paz had very long straight sections. We passed many herds of sheep and llamas, grazing within inches of the busy road. The rain had caused very short and sparse green grass to sprout right next to the road, and the animals were busy consuming these tasty treats. The herders were also standing right next to the street, presumably to redirect a sheep or llama if one wandered out into the road. We were going at such high speeds, the closeness of the animals was a bit freaky at first. Occasionally, we would come across an entire herd crossing the road; the traffic would just stop and wait.

We finally reached El Alto, the city above La Paz. Here I am with Marc and William (stretching his legs) on the main street through El Alto:

The traffic in El Alto was so fascinating to me. The main road was divided with a barrier and had the width of a 3-lane road on each side; however, there were no lines to designate lanes. The traffic just flowed along, with cars and trucks going every which way, giving friendly little “toots” of the horn (no long angry blasts ever) if another vehicle threatened to get in the way. And the few stop signs seemed to be ignored, as if they were optional. People did appear to stop for red lights, at least briefly before moving on if they could go forward. And yet, everything appeared to be very sane—no one was rushing to cut off another driver, and no one was angrily yelling out the window or flipping anyone off. 

From El Alto, we continued northwest to the shore of Lake Titicaca. You can see a tiny bit of the Lake in the far background of this photo:

As we started down the road, the sunlight was filtering through the dark rain clouds in hundreds of visible, individual beams down to the earth. I know that pictures rarely capture the actual beauty of something, and a verbal description falls even further short, but the sight of those sunrays filled me with such awe that time was suspended and everything else seemed to melt away.

We eventually turned east, away from the Lake, up into the mountains again. As we rode along, people would run to the side of the road, waving and clapping. Several people along the way asked if we were part of an enduro. Enduros are very big in this area and are popular spectator events. Hugo, our mechanic, has participated in many enduros; he said that enduro routes generally go from one village to the next, and each village prepares a feast and celebration for the riders.

As we got closer to Sorata, the road was very tight as it crossed over the mountains. After being in the barren altiplano for so many days, seeing green vegetation all around me was rather shocking. (The clouds are directly on top of us in this photo.)

We continued our climb into the clouds and had to slow down considerably because we couldn’t see very far in front of us. We finally reached the last mountain pass and started the descent into the Sorata valley. Here is our first view of Sorata, across the valley.

The contrast in landscape between this fertile area and the dry altiplano was so great that I almost felt like we had entered an entirely different country. With all of the greenery, Sorata looked like Shangri-La to us!

The road down the mountain was narrow but newly paved in the upper sections, with switchback after switchback. Since the road was so twisty, we had to constantly be on the alert for a car, bus or truck to come blasting around the corner at us. They travel fast, especially the taxis! The drop off on the side of the road was often severe. Since this is the only road into Sorata from La Paz, I was marveling at the skill of bus drivers who had safely maneuvered their large vehicles through the numerous tight and steep switchbacks.

It was dark when we finally reached Sorata, which seemed like a tiny maze, with tangled narrow streets woven along the hillside. A taxi driver in the plaza guided us to our beautiful and comfortable hostel, located about a quarter of a mile or so from the town center. (We were glad that we were not any closer because we could still hear, on a fainter level, the booming disco music from somewhere in town, which continued until about 11 p.m. and started up again around 7 a.m.) Within 10 minutes of our arrival, the rain poured down in sheets. Our chase truck, which couldn’t make it down the steep narrow street leading to the hostel, had to be unloaded a distance away, and the luggage transported by a small taxi. Everyone’s luggage was thoroughly drenched. Thank goodness Ben and I had packed almost everything we had brought into sealed plastic bags. (Given the moist and rainy condition in this northern area, the items that were not protected took about 3 days to dry—we would unpack them each night and drape them over something to continue the drying process.)

Our hostel was run by Petra, a charming and warm German woman, who spoke excellent Spanish and English, and who helped prepare and serve a delicious dinner of quinoa soup and pizza. After dinner, Hugo and David stayed up all night in order to give each of us fresh rubber on our bikes and to make sure each bike was running properly.

<< Day 7: Tupiza to Potosí | Day 9: Sorata to Santa Rosa >>

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Map of Our Journeys

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Our travel map



Places We’ve Been, w/Quick Links

Bhutan
   Bumthang Valley
   Gom Kora
   Kanglung
   Mongar
   Paro Valley
   Punakha Dzong
   Sangdrup Jongkhar
   Thimphu
   Tongsa
   Wangdi Phrodrang

Bolivia
   Caranavi
   Guanay
   Janko Marca
   La Paz
   Laguna Colorada
   Laguna Verde
   Llica
   Potosí
   Queteña
   Rurrenabaque
   Sajama
   Salar de Coipasa
   Salar de Uyuni
   San Pablo
   Santa Rosa
   Sorata
   Sud Lipez
   Tupiza
   World’s Most Dangerous Road

Canada
   Banff National Park
   Battle Hill Nat'l Hist. Site
   Boya Lake Prov. Park, BC
   Burns Lake Bike Park
   Canyon Sainte-Anne
   Chetwynd
   Dawson Creek
   Eastern Townships
   Fort Nelson
   Isle-aux-Coudres
   Jasper National Park
   Kluane Lake, YK
   'Ksan Historical Village
   Lake Louise
   Liard Hot Springs
   Montreal
   Niagara Falls
   Ottawa
   Quebec City
   Quesnel
   Thousand Islands
   Toronto
   Vancouver
   Vancouver Island
   Victoria
   Watson Lake
   Whistler
   Whitehorse

China
   Beijing
   Datong
   Forbidden City
   Great Wall at Mutianyu
   Hong Kong
   HuaShan
   Lijiang
   Summer Palace
   Terracotta Warriors
   Tiananmen Square
   Xi’an
   Yangshuo
   Yungang Caves

Costa Rica
   Arenal Volcano
   Finca Corsicana
   Hanging Bridges
   Manuel Antonio
   Poas Volcano
   Proyecto Asis
   Quepos
   Sarchi
   Sky Trek Zip Lining
   Venado Caves
   Zarcero

France
   Paris

Ecuador
   Amazon Rainforest
   Chaquiñan Bicycle Trail
   La Mitad del Mundo
   Napo Wildlife Center
   Papallacta Hot Springs
   Proyecto DCR
   Quito
   Yasuní National Park

India
   Bagdogra
   Darjeeling
   Delhi
   Gawahati
   Jaigaon
   Kalimpong

Mexico
   Baja California
   Crucecita
   Frida Kahlo Museum
   Hierve el Agua
   Huatulco
   Marietas Islands
   Mazunte
   Mexico City
   Monte Alban
   Oaxaca City
   Patzcuaro
   Puerto Angel
   Puerto Escondido
   Puerto Vallarta
   San Agustin
   San Martin Tilcajete
   Santa Fe de la Laguna
   Santa María el Tule
   Sayulita
   Studio of Jacobo Angeles
   Teotihuacán
   Teotitlán del Valle
   TzinTzunTzan
   Yagul
   Yelapa

Namibia
   Caprivi
   Dead Vlei
   Elondo Village
   Etosha Nat'l Park
   Hippo Pools Camp
   Hoba Meteorite
   Katutura
   Khowarib Camp
   Moose McGregor's Bakery
   Mowani Camp
   Ngepi Camp
   Nkasa Lupala
   n'Kwzi Camp
   River Dance Lodge
   Seisfontein
   Seisriem Camp
   Sossusvlie
   Swakopmund
   Treesleeper Camp
   Twyfeltein
   Windhoek

Peru
   Balsas
   Barranca
   Cajabamba
   Cajamarca
   Caraz
   Cañón del Pato
   Celendín
   Cerro de Pasco
   Chachapoyas
   Cusco
   Huamachuco
   Huánico
   Huaraz
   La Oroya
   Leymebamba
   Llanganuco
   Lima
   Machu Picchu
   Moyobamba
   Nuevo Jaén
   Pallasca
   Pampas
   Tápuc
   Tarapoto
   Tarma
   Tingo Maria
   Tocache
   Yungay Memorial

Portugal
   Burgau
   Coimbra
   Evora
   Lisbon
   Marvao
   Nazare
   Obidos
   Portimao
   Sintra
   Sitio

South Africa
   Johannesburg

Spain
   Barcelona
   Bilbao
   Hondarribia
   Madrid
   Montserrat
   Nerja
   Rock of Gibraltar
   Ronda
   Santillana del Mar
   Tolosa
   Zaragoza

United States National Parks
   Arches National Park, UT
   Badlands National Park, SD
   Bandelier National Monument, NM
   Bryce Canyon National Park, UT
   Cahokia Mounds (UNESCO site), IL
   Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM
   Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Cape Hatteras National Shoreline, NC
   Capitol Reef National Park, UT
   Civil Rights Memorial, AL
   Death Valley National Park, CA
   Denali National Park, AK
   Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY
   El Morro National Monument, NM
   Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C.
   Glacier National Park, MT
   Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
   Grand Tetons National Park, WY
   Great Basin National Park, NV
   Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, HI
   Joshua Tree National Park, CA
   Kaloko-Honokohau Nat'l Hist. Park, HI
   Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, NM
   King's Canyon National Park, CA
   Martin Luther King Jr. Nat'l Hist. Site, GA
   Mesa Verde National Park, CO
   Montezuma's Castle Nat'l Monument, AZ
   Monticello, VA
   Mount Rushmore National Memorial, SD
   Mt. Rainier National Park, WA
   Olympic National Park, WA
   Petrified Wood National Park, AZ
   Pinnacles National Monument, CA
   Pu'uhonua o Honaunau Nat'l Hist Pk, HI
   Pu'ukohola Heiau Nat'l Historic Site, HI
   San Antonio Missions Nat'l Hist. Park, TX
   Tuzigoot National Monument, AZ
   Walnut Canyon National Monument, AZ
   Washington Monument
   White Sands National Monument, NM
   Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, AK
   Wright Brothers National Memorial in NC
   Yellowstone National Park, WY
   Yosemite National Park, CA

United States, Cities and Places
   The Alamo, TX
   Alaska Wildlife Conservation Cntr.
   Alpine Loop in CO
   Anchorage, AK
   Antares Junction, AZ
   Arctic Circle, AK
   Barrel Oak Winery in VA
   Biloxi, MS
   Bottle Tree Farm in CA
   Calico Ghost Town, CA
   Canfield Mountain Trail System, ID
   Cape St. Vincent, NY
   Carson City, NV
   Carter Caves State Park in KY
   Chappie-Shasta OHV Area, CA
   Child's Glacier, AK
   Circle B Chuckwagon Show in SD
   City Museum in MO
   Cody, WY
   Corn Palace in SD
   Crazy Horse Memorial in SD
   Custer State Park, SD
   Dalton Highway, AK
   Dinosaur Tracks in AZ
   Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC
   Dry Falls (Sun Lakes-Dry Falls), WA
   Fairbanks, AK
   Front Royal, VA
   Gallup, NM
   Goffs, CA
   Grand Canyon Caves, AZ
   Grand Canyon Skywalk, AZ
   Grave Digger Monster Truck in NC
   Great Salt Lake, UT
   Hackberry General Store in AZ
   Hannibal, MO
   Hatteras Island, NC
   Hawaii (Big Island)
   Hickison Petroglyphs, NV
   Holbrook, AZ
   Hole in the Rock, UT
   Homer, AK
   Honey Island Swamp Tour in LA
   Hoover Dam, NV
   Hyder, AK
   Jim Gray’s Petrified Wood Co. in AZ
   John’s Peak OHV Area, OR
   Kailua-Kona, HI
   Keepers of the Wild Nature Park in AZ
   Kennecott, AK
   Kennecott Copper Mine in UT
   Kingman, AZ
   Lake Havasu, AZ
   Lake Tahoe, NV
   Las Vegas, NV (winter 2010)
   Little Brown Church in IA
   London Bridge in AZ
   Loneliest Road in America, Hwy. 50, NV
   Los Angeles, CA
   Lost Colony Show on Roanoke Isl., NC
   Lowe’s Speedway in NC
   Mardi Gras World in LA
   Mark Twain Museum in MO
   Meteor Crater, AZ
   Million Dollar Highway, CO
   Minnesota Zoo
   Mitchell, SD
   Moab, UT
   Moab, UT (dirt biking)
   Montgomery, AL
   Montpelier, ID
   Navajo Nation, AZ
   Needles, CA
   Nevada Beach, NV
   Newberry Springs, CA
   New River Gorge, WV
   New Orleans, LA
   Niagara Falls 
   North Pole, AK
   Oatman, AZ
   Old Faithful Geyser in WY
   Omak Stampede, WA
   Painted Desert, AZ
   Park City, UT (summer)
   Plymouth, NC
   Portage Valley, AK
   Portland, OR
   Prospect OHV Trail System, OR
   Resaca, GA
   Riverside State Park, WA
   Rock City in TN
   Rosa Parks Library and Museum in AL
   Roswell, NM
   Russian River, AK
   Salt Lake City, UT
   San Antonio, TX
   San Diego, CA
   San Juan Islands, WA
   San Francisco, CA
   Santa Catalina Island, CA
   Seattle, WA
   Sedona, AZ
   Shoe Tree in CA
   Shoe Tree in NV
   Silverton, CO
   Sonora, TX
   St. Louis, MO
   St. Paul, MN
   Talkeetna, AK
   Telluride, CO
   Route 66
   Twin Knobs Recreation Area in KY
   Virginia Beach, VA
   Washington D.C.
   Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park in IL
   Williamsburg, VA
   Winom Frazier OHV Area, OR
   Winslow, AZ
   Zion National Park, UT

Planning Our Adventures

For us, each journey begins with the initial heart pangs to venture to a certain part of the world. Then the ideas start coming together . . . ahh, the possibilities . . . and the dream evolves gradually into an actual plan. But, oh, the joy of the dream!  Click here to learn more about how we plan and prepare for our journeys.

Where Are We Now?

Click here to discover where we are now, as well as our uncoming travel plans.


Words for the Heart

“. . . and then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anais Nin