Photogallery: Bolivia – The Heart of South America
Bolivia – The Heart of South America
heading (paragraph): States
No. of pictures: 50 pictures
Bolivia is usually not the main goal for tourists coming to South America. Fortunately, our correspondent Tomas didn't miss it out. It is a country which spreads into several climates. There are salt deserts, snow caped mountains, or tropic jungle. The bolivians are a proud and usually kind people. However, sometimes they try to rip you off. Otherwise, the country is beautiful and magnificent.
Text: Lenka Bauerová
Photos: Tomáš Novák
Copacabana is usually the first city in Bolivia a traveller visits when travelling by land from Peru. If not, he should certainly consider the visit. Shall we excuse the city for the mandatory and quite unnecessary fee of 2 BOB (1 BOB = around 3,5 Czech Koruna), Copacabana is a nice and quite place to rest. The vista over Lake Titicaca makes it even better and adds to the atmosphere. The city is small making this resort on the lake a picturesque and magical place. You can easily walk here for how long you want and still enjoy it.
La Paz interested me the most of all places in Bolivia. I have always considered its unusual altitude interesting. I have always thought about how people live at 3600 meters of altitude. After I have spent some time at these altitudes in Ecuador or Peru, I have found out it is not hard at all. One gets simply used to it. Still, La Paz is quite a phenomena among large world cities for how high it is located. The city looks like it lays in a crater. Brick houses are built on slopes. It seems organized. Once you get closer, it is chaos of streets and houses-in-progress. There are high-rise buildings among historical structures down in downtown. It is quite an interesting mix. People travel by cable cars which simulate rapid-train system or subway. It is the fastest way how to get form one edge of the city to another.
The road from Uyuni to Potosí takes mere three hours. It would be nothing less but a sin not looking from the window. The road goes up hill when leaving flat desert region. It crosses low yet beautiful Rainbow Mountains. The land has still features of desert. It is quite dry and without large vegetation Lamas and nandas could be spotted along the road.
The fastest and easiest way to get to Torotoro village from La Paz is by night bus from Cochabamba. There you transfer to colectivo (local form of public transportation. We wonder through the terminus in Cochabamba at 5:45. A lady at the information stall is even more sleepy than we are. Yawning she told us that we have to go to another terminus. The only buses depart at 6 a.m. Therefore, we need to hurry. A cab driver makes use of it. Therefore, we take a two minute ride with him to the adjacent district. It is dark there. We get off at a garage. He says to a group of people idling at a van that he brings two foreigners. For this he receives 15 BOB (55 Czech Koruna) and put a smile on his face.
It is an amaizng experience to buy tickets in Bolivia. It also tries nerves of you and the person who tries to sell you them. We buy tickets to Samaipata village in Sucre. Samaipata is on the way to Santa Cruz de la Sierra, supposedly the last city in Bolivia we would visit. Our intention is to rest for a while in Samaipata for we have been in large crowds for the last couple of days.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is the largest city in Bolivia. It is situated in the central-eastern part of the country far from the Ands. It stretches on flat land. It is remarkable to view the city from bird’s eye perspective. It is of eliptical shape consisting of three bypass circuits (anillos). These are interconnected by radiales – main roads to which are given numbers clockwise. There are 27 of them. The city looks rather like a large village for its low buildings and quite life. There are, however, several more expensive streets with luxury goods. Nobody is in hurry in this city. Locals like to sit on benches and rest. Wristwatch seems like a decoration than a useful accessory here.
Sucre is the most beautiful city in Bolivia with the best well-preserved colonial architecture we have seen so far. It is also the cleanest and most well-maintained city in the country. Somehow you can feel the order and will of the people to keep the city nice. I tis elegant, simple by colors, and locals are proud to walk around it. It is more or less of the size of Potosi. Around quarter million people live there. Sucre was added to UNESCO World Heritage Sites list in 1991.
Our plans receive significant blow once we found out at the terminus in Cochabamba that bus driving companies are on strike. This is nothing unusual in Bolivia. We spending there our second week and we happen to see second one. However, inhabitants and employees have good attitude towards it and they are hardly annoyed. We have ben told several times that such a strike lasts about three days at least. The last bus departs at 18:00 from the terminus. And then the strike begins! Some bus lines moved some were entirely closed. The same goes for the line to Potosi, our next stop. Therefore, we have to change plans in the last minute and take the last bus to Uyuni.
We leave sunny Copacabana and travel through La Paz to Coroico, a small village we deliberately chose to spend several days in nature. There goes direct line of public transportation (collective) from La Paz. It takes about three hours and ca. 150 Czech Koruna. We need to go from the altitude of 3600 meters (La Paz) even one kilometer higher. Then we would go donw serpentines to Yungas region (a region between the Andes and lowland forests). In this region there is the “death road”, a Bolivian attraction. Since 2006, there has been opened an asphalt road. Therefore the muddy road which used to be “world’s most dangerous road”. Every year allegedly 300 people died there. Today, only bikers use it.