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Saturday 17th April 2010

Bolivia

The instant we crossed the border into Bolivia it was obvious were were now in a much less affluent country. The roads were in much poorer condition and everything was just that little bit more dilapidated.

We arrived in the lake side town of Copa Cabana mid morning and checked into Hotel Mirrador which is right on the lake. It was the nicest hotel in town and only cost us $7 each. Even though Copa Cabana was dusty and run down I liked it as it had a bit of charm and character. Spent a few hours exploring the town and checked out the main square which was quite nice but there was not much action. Had a nice feed of nachos and watched some TV back at the hotel.

Our cash was running low and the only ATM in town was out of order so it was time to continue the journey to La Paz.

La Paz

La Paz is the capital of Bolivia and is situated at an altitude of 3600m which makes it the highest capital city in the world.

We arrived in La Paz after a chaotic bus ride from Copa Cabana and checked into the Loki hostel. It was a party hostel so it was time to step it up once again. We befriended some cool Aussies at the hostel bar and spent most of our time in La Paz with them.

It is a very multicultural city and we ate at some world class restaurants that were ridiculously cheap. We spent the days exploring the city and the nights at some awesome bars. I found a camera repair shop which managed to repair my new camera which had broken after only 2 weeks use.

One of the main attractions of La Paz that it was near Death Road – the world’s most dangerous mountain bike ride.

Death Road

There are numerous tour companies that offer guided rides down death road. After visiting quite a few of them we decided to go with Gravity. They are the original and most expensive company but also the one with the best safety equipment and record. An Israeli girl died whilst riding down Death Road only a week before we were there. Our tour guide told us that the rescue rope wasn’t even long enough to retrieve her body. Horrible.

We booked the ride with our Aussie mates, Tom, Dan, Shane and some of their friends so we had an awesome crew.

We woke up at 6am and made our way to the coffee shop meeting point. Had a croissant for breakfast and there was definitely a nervous feeling in the air as we all piled onto the bus.

The bus headed to the starting point but we had to pull over on the way for Clarkey to be sick. He didn’t look well at all and had most likely got food poisoning from the breakfast. Nasty!

We were issued with our bikes which were awesome - full suspension Konas with hydraulic disc brakes .... perfect! Well worth the extra money for such quality equipment.

The first part of the road was tarred and we absolutely flew down. We must have hit 70km/h on the steeper sections.

After about an hour of riding we came to the junction of the old and new roads which is where the real death road begins. It's a dirt road about 3m wide that winds down the mountain like a snake. There are no guard rails and in some sections there is a shear 100m drop on the side. The scenery is quite breathtaking.

We received a safety briefing, I strapped my helmet cam on and then it was time to go. It was so much fun and so exhilarating! I spent most of the time up the front of the group with Tommy and Shane and we were constantly pushing each other to ride faster. There were a couple of times that I felt myself drifting sideways towards the cliff which certainly got the adrenaline flowing! All in all it was fairly safe as you could just go at your own pace and there were numerous stops so we could regroup.

It sure was an epic ride! 64km and a loss of 3,000m in altitude. We eventually made it to the bottom at about 3:30pm and headed to an animal sanctuary for lunch. We got to see some cool birds and play with some cheeky monkeys that were very bitey indeed.

Hopped back on the bus and headed back to La Paz! Awesome day.

We spent another day in La Paz where we visited San Pedro prison but didn’t manage to make it inside and also the Coca museum. Apparently Coca Cola still uses coca leaves in their recipe.

Photos here:
http://www.danscapers.com/gallery/Bolivia




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