Discovering Bolivia: the Salar de Uyuni, Death Road and so much more!

“All glory comes from daring to begin.”
And so we began overlanding a new country, the 4th of our global honeymoon journey: Bold Bolivia.
If you’re an outdoor lover, a nature enthousiast or a miracle believer, than Bolivia will be your cup of tea. Sip it slow and take your time. There’s is so much to discover!

What did we like in Bolivia?

  • You get a glance of natures finest art work. You walk into sceneries that look like paintings when discovering a red, green and white lagoon. A treasure for the eye.
  • Going back to the ice age. Discovering dino tracks, exploring dark and muddy caves, hiking into canyons to discover hidden waterfalls.
  • Being able to explore lots with and without tour guides and getting plenty of advice from locals. They treated us like their children, ‘Sarita’ and ‘Dmitry’.

What didn’t we like?

  • While nature is magnificent, the towns are not much to look at. A lot of houses are unfinished and abandoned. Other than tourism offices, there’s very little to encounter.
  • Food is cheap if you eat local, which we did. But there are basically no veggies on your plate and all the dishes are chicken with rice ànd fries. You can only buy fruit in local markets – not in the little stores.

The highlights of overlanding Bolivia

  • When crossing the border from the Atacama Desert (Chile) to Bolivia, we took the Laguna Route right after we entered Bolivia. It’s a dirt route through the lake region of Southwestern Bolivia, part of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. From the comfortable seats of our Suzy – freezing cold winds out there! – we spotted the Laguna Verde, Blanco and Colorado. You guessed it, they are named after their color 😉 We also breathed in hot vapors from the Sol de la Mañana, drove near volcano’s, saw thousand of flamingos, visited the Arbol de Piedra (rock shaped like a tree) and bathed in the Polques hot springs at 5.30 AM, just in time to watch the sunrise.
  • Our expectations of visiting the salt flats were high! At first we were disappointed that the whole Salar de Uyuni was under water due to heavy rains. Once we were there, the landscape was even better! The original plan was to overnight in the Salar with Max, Francesco, Lillee, Chris, and their vintage van. As the storm and lightning caught up, we decided to tail a tour guide back to shore in the darkness. At that point, we were jealous we couldn’t sleep in our car! 🙂
  • We drove all the way to Torotoro National Park where we did two tours: a glorious hike to the Canyon El Vergél including hundreds of stairs (they don’t tell you that ;)), impressive waterfalls and discovering dinosaur footprints. On the second day we booked a speleology tour with Jack and Dan. We descended a cave with small and muddy passages, underground lakes, blind catfish and a shitload of bat’s poo. A real treat!
  • Arriving in La Paz there was only one thing on our mind: driving the Death Road! Because we wanted to let our Suzy rest a bit and Dimi loves adrenaline, we would mountainbike the most dangerous road in the world… At least, Dimi was 😀 I was going to follow by bus. I say ‘was’ because on D-Day there was a landslide. Buses couldn’t pass through. I saw it as a sign of the God of adventure and hopped on a spare mountainbike. Yes, I was the slowest of the group but we had a great time. Although we were a bit disappointed by the level of ‘danger’. The stories of people dying and hardcore adventure is well alive but to be honest it’s less impressive as you might think. It was dangerous years ago when there was a lot of traffic. But that isn’t the case anymore. Of course you don’t act like a jackass on that bike. Don’t overestimate your downhill riding skills, take your time to look at the breathtaking scenery but don’t be scared. You’ll be absolutely fine.
  • Yes, Lake Titicaca does exist! The view is endless so you might think it’s an ocean. It’s the biggest lake in South America (8.372 m2) and the highest navigable lake in the world (3.812 m above sea level). It is believed by ancient Incan culture that Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun, and therefore, where the world began. With more than 42 islands in between Bolivia and Peru, we visited Isla de la Luna and Isla del Sol starting from Copacabana. Normally you can take the boat to the southern tip of Isla del Sol and hike all the way up north where nature is even more ravishing and you can spend the night. Unfortunately, there was a dispute between South and North when we were there. They wouldn’t let anyone pass the northern part so we only saw the South. We spent 2 hours talking and drinking coffee and beer with view on the lake – that’s how sublime lake Titicaca is :D.

Where to next?

A couple of days ago we crossed the border to Passionate Peru. It was extremely difficult to get in the country and we almost got sent back. More about that and our new Peruvian adventures in our next blogpost!

Enjoy our pics and leave us a comment!
Big hugs to all of you,
Sarah & Dimitri