28.10.23 Border Argentina - Bolivia. From now on, the currency is no longer the Argentinian peso but the Boliviano - abbreviated to "Bob". Not to be confused with Bob Marley. Our first impression of Bolivia was a little strange. As always, we need gas again. We drive to the first filling station. Yes, that's right - the first one, with more to follow... In any case, petrol in Bolivia is largely subsidized for the locals. The "extranjeros" pay about three times as much. As we have now found out, there are three ways to get gasoline. Either officially at the gas station with a high price. Some even ask for your passport number and license plate. Or, as in our first case, you can get the petrol in canisters at the local price. However, you should go behind the filling station to do this. It's a feat of strength... Building a funnel from a plastic bottle and walking back and forth about ten times, as our canisters only consist of 1.5 liter pet bottles. Fortunately, we also have two 5 liter canisters with us (Argentina says hello, always take more than you need). And we only discover the third option after a few days... it will be interesting to see! The Bolivians have a daily quota of 20 liters of fuel per day that they can use. They get fuel when they hand in a copy of their passport. Once all four motorcycles have filled up, we set off for Tupiza. The Bolivian plateau is breathtaking. The altitude is unimaginable. We have already taken precautions against altitude sickness and brought hot tea made from coca leaves. Fortunately! The passes are wide and over 4200 meters high. Suddenly Stefan slows down. "Barana" has a bit of trouble with the altitude hmmm. Stefan makes short work of it and takes the filter out. Now she's running again... well, let's hope it does afterwards - with the filter! When we arrive in Tupiza, we no longer understand the world. 90% of the transport consists of TucTucs! What the f.... is going on here?
We arrive in Uyuni on 29.10.23. No, not by train... but we don't know what it's doing in the middle of nowhere and what function it fulfills. Anyway, we overtook it to take a photo! It probably didn't want to go to the old train cemetery like we did ...
We put up at the Hotel Toñito. It is run by an American and his Bolivian wife. The standard is very high for Bolivia. We spend the night here because they also serve delicious pizzas and an American breakfast! Highly recommended.
Off to the market. We buy supplies for our two-day trip to the Salar de Uyuni. Stefan and I have decided to spend the night on one of the cactus islands. What an adventure!
30.10.23 The time has come! The crossing of the Salar de Uyuni can begin! The salt desert is around 10,000 years old and covers an area of over 10,000 km2. It is the largest of its kind on earth. During the day it is around 15 degrees. However, it feels warmer due to the sun and reflection on the salt. During the day we always wear sunglasses, as the reflection can damage the eyes and cause a kind of snow blindness. It gets cooler in the evening, but we don't reach freezing point, because in the morning our water is ice-cold but not frozen.
ON THE WAY TO THE ISLAND WHERE WE SET UP CAMP FOR THE NIGHT
Isla Pescado is perfect for our plans. And we even find a fire pit and bicycle tracks! Was that Salome and Dän?
DINNER ON THE SALAR WITH A VIEW OF THE VOLCANO
We have to chew our hot food quickly because the wind is blowing around our ears and it is cooling down rapidly. We enjoy a wonderful, starry night with a shooting star - how cheesy!
After breakfast and coca tea, we slowly make our way towards the volcano to Tahua. The distance from our camp for the night to the volcano is 30km. On the Salar de Uyuni it is almost impossible to estimate the distance. As soon as we arrive in Tahua, we see herds of llamas as far as the eye can see. We stop and marvel at the four-legged friends, who also look at us with great interest.
WHAT IS THE LLAMA THINKING?
POSE FOR A PICTURE - CLICK!
What an experience! Many of the llamas have colorful shaggy ears. We assume that these herds belong to someone. Others live in the wild. People and dogs herd the animals, but there are virtually no fences. The llama meat itself tastes very good and is popular in Argentina and Bolivia as it seems to have a lot of minerals. However, I like the llama better alive. At the market you will find pictures like these... other countries, other customs.
After the Lama drama, now another story. We continue around the volcano on a 30 km long gravel and corrugated iron road. It's hot and the route is quite long and dreary. Ah, here comes the gasoline game again. We have now found out which is the third way to get fuel. But we only found out when two filling stations refused us gas. Once because we weren't locals and once because we didn't want to give up our passport number. Briefly pissed off, I let my anger out loud and ranted in Swiss German. We were exhausted from the heat, the seemingly endless 1000 km long straight stretch, begging for gas and our blood sugar levels were correspondingly low. Suddenly, out of nowhere, an elderly gentleman comes up to us and says we should follow him, he could help us with "Gasolina". I don't know which stone he crawled out from under, but at that moment he was the angel we needed! We followed his car and he led us to the "gasoline street". There were women everywhere with filled canisters. That's how it works here. All right, then please fill up once.
The Bolivians buy fuel and sell it on the street. That's their income. For us, this is the most pleasant option. Just look out for "Hay Gasolina" signs or canisters on the side road, stop and fill up. The price is 5 bob/liter, which is not too expensive for foreigners and helps the locals earn a living. And a nice side effect is that you come into contact with the people. They are interested and talk freely. After refueling, we are pretty exhausted, so the next priority is shopping and finding a place to sleep.
As it turns out, there is no bread to buy at the moment. In a small store, the sales clerk tells us that it is a public holiday and it will be difficult to get bread in the next few days. And certainly not in the evening. All right, but the store looks pretty empty. We buy lemon flavored coca leaves, water and warm beer. The lovely woman must have taken pity on us. She disappeared for a moment and came back with bread rolls and cold beer. She didn't want any money for the bread, she gave it to us. We were overwhelmed and thanked her a thousand times for the precious gift. After all the stress of refueling, two people had already helped us. We were so grateful. But now we had to quickly find a place to sleep. It was already 6 o'clock in the evening and the sun sets at 7 o'clock. That meant we only had just under an hour before it got dark to pitch the tent. We decided to take a side road and drive out of the city into the countryside to look for a spot. When we have finally spotted and inspected a place, one car after the other arrives... not a good place after all? And what are they all doing here in the middle of nowhere? Ok, get in the car and keep looking. Puah, it's really exhausting. We're tired and the search is getting on our last nerve. There's a farm in front of us and a jeep turns into the yard. This is our chance. I get off the bike and walk towards the jeep. The man hears me calling and so do his 10 dogs. Oh fuck, they run towards me and I call for Stefan, who rushes to help. But the farmer whistles his sheepdogs back and it turns out that they are really nice. Young and playful. We even see little puppies. The farmer tells us to pitch our tent in his meadow. It's a load off our minds because it's already starting to get dark. Thank you, thank you, thank you! So much help in one day. We pitch our tent between the hay bales and experience a breathtaking sunset. And not only that, we see a fireball (a comet with a tail) fly past the earth. We stand there rooted to the spot and marvel at this natural spectacle. Flashed by the day - in every respect - we quickly fall asleep and the next morning is written in a picture book...
1.11.23 We urgently need a break from traveling! We have now been driving for six days in a row and are slowly running out of energy. The capital of Bolivia, Sucre, is just a day's drive away. We are looking forward to it, we want to relax there. We take the northern route towards Sucre via Challapata. There are markets everywhere in the small towns and the main roads are closed, with colorful market stalls standing in place of cars. We stop and have a look around. Here comes Dora. Dora comes from La Paz and has driven seven hours here to sell her special coca leaves at the market. The leaves are smaller and, as she tells us, are also good for stomach ache. She stays here with her market stall for a week. After that, she takes the "collectivo" (bus cab) back to La Paz. She speaks clean Spanish and it is a pleasure to talk to her because we understand her. She also gives us a warm welcome to her country. We are touched by the warmth of the Bolivians. Most people in the country speak their dialect, which is incredibly difficult to understand. Dora gives us a bag of coca leaves and wishes us good luck on our journey.
Dora FROM La Paz
She sells coca leaves and gives us a bag full of them.
Sucre is located at 2300 meters above sea level and is the capital of Bolivia. The seat of government is in La Paz. Sucre is historically an important city in Bolivia, along with Potosi. The "Casa de Libertad" is almost a must-see. The Bolivians are celebrating 200 years of liberation from the Spanish in 2025. It was a tough fight for the Bolivians when Spain invaded their country. They fought for their independence for 16 years, from 1809 to 1825. Sucre is a city with old colonial-style buildings. It is a quiet and pleasant city. The people are caring and easy going. The Mercado Central is a wonderful place. You can find everything there! From toilet paper and fruit to freshly squeezed juices, shampoo and meat. You can eat your fill here, which of course we do. Oh yes, and there is also a key service here. I had my motorcycle keys copied for 40 bob. That's the equivalent of just under 6 euros! The Cementerio (cemetery) is also worth a visit. It is huge and we have just arrived at the "Dias de los Muertes" and walked through it. Lots of laughing people, lots of music and at the graves you can find gifts for these celebrations: such as bread, sweets, schnapps, cigarettes and flowers. Everything the deceased liked in life. The families spend three days at the cemetery and in the evenings there is dancing, loud music and partying! We've been here for a week now... Let's see how long we stay - who knows!
our little home in the tent
Here you will find everything your heart desires
WASHING FACILITY OF MARIA AND LUIS WITH THE KIDS ANGEL, MARIANNA AND JOSÉ
Here our motorcycles were given a thorough wash. Tires and oil were also changed.
INVITED TO THE BBQ - ON THE CAMPO OF IBAR - Muchas Gracias Por este meravilloso dia!
We meet Ibar and Carlos at Plaza 25 Mayo in Sucre. Carlos is Columbian and has been traveling with his VW Beetle & his dog Hanny for 9 months. Ibar's weekend house invites you to cool off and relax!
Fresh from the market
Mango, Dragon fruit, Papaya
wiht the Sheep "Meee"
SUCRE DOWN TOWN - LUNCH TIME
12.11.23 Bye Bye Sucre. We leave Sucre with a heavy heart. We have spent 11 days here. But when we went to the cash machine to get some cash, the machine wouldn't give us Stefan's card. After a short commotion, a few swear words and pressing the buttons 1000 times, the machine suddenly spat out the card! Pooooo, we were already soaked with sweat before we really set off! Off we went. Now it was already midday due to the ATM action and all the traffic on the road was literally exploding. The heat added to this and several traffic lights were always on red. Buses, trucks, thousands of scooters, cars and pedestrians were all somehow making their way along the road. Out of the city and onto Ruta 6, where the famous TRANSCHAO begins!
RUTA 6 - THE BEGINNING OF THE TRANSCHACO
Start of the "Chaco Alto" on the Altiplano in Bolivia over 2000 m above sea level.
We are traveling on natural roads. Today we don't manage more than 80 km. Gravel, sand, dust, heat and oncoming traffic await us here. This is the national highway and we occasionally encounter double-decker buses and trucks. Who would have thought it - but that's how it is! Unbelievable, we were amazed at how these big vehicles snake their way through here.
We spend the night somewhere in the countryside. We find a small side road and pitch our tent. We have spaghetti Napoli. We crawl into our "1000 star hotel" early. We want to get some rest and set off early the next morning. But suddenly the weather lights up and we can hear it rumbling from afar. The thunder gets closer and louder. It's unbelievable how loud it can thunder. We've never experienced that before! The heavens open their floodgates above us and let it rip. We can no longer hear our own words. Lightning, thunder, wind and rain in full force and volume! As a human being, you feel pretty small and helpless when nature strikes like this. Well, at least we have the thin bit of tarpaulin around us to keep us dry... uiuiui. We survive the night a little dejected - thank goodness!
The next morning brings us sunshine. We continue to enjoy the red sandy roads and magnificent nature. The Chaco Alto takes on a jungle-like appearance, the air becomes a little more humid and it gets warmer. We slowly reach lower altitudes. Stefan rides in front of me and suddenly the 6-liter reserve canister that we were filling up falls off his bike. It tumbles down the road. We quickly try to save what can still be saved - we have lost 2 liters. Not only the altitude has decreased, but also the gasoline. Well, we should still make it to the next filling station. We stop in a small village and meet 10 motorcyclists from Sucre. They are coming from Monteagudo, which is our destination for the day. We are all sweaty and covered in dust. They offer us water and we swap stories. What a cheerful bunch! We all try to squeeze under a tree to get some shade. It feels like being in a sauna! The small river next to it is filled with a little water but it's not cold, on the contrary, the water is lukewarm. Nevertheless, we get our clothes wet and stick our heads under the water as best we can hahaha. Do the Bolivians tell us that the river is bigger, deeper and a bit cooler on our route, which promises another 40 km of gravel. Now that sounds like an announcement! That's where we want to go!
From Monteagudo, we drive towards Paraguay. Our destination for the day is Villamontes, which is about 120 km before the border. The roads are fairly newly built, some of them freshly tarred or still in the process of being completed. We are therefore diverted onto the old sand and gravel roads from time to time. On the "desvios", i.e. detour, you travel more slowly and we feel closer to nature. We soak up all the energy here. Today we drive 300 km and spend the night in the Eco Parque Don Pastor near Villamontes. And because it's so beautiful, we spend an extra day surrounded by two- and four-legged friends.
THESE TWO CONSPECIFICS WERE IN A TALKING MOOD EVERY MORNING AT 6 O'CLOCK
They talked so loud and so much that you couldn't sleep :-)
Stefans New Compagnon
he never left his side
This feathered friend was quite cheeky and pushy but sooooo cuddly. We were allowed to stroke him and he always wanted to get close to us. But we also had a lot of respect for him.
In any case, he didn't want to let us go. He tried pretty much everything to trick us. He inspected the motorcycles from front to back. In the end, he clawed at the spokes and thought we wouldn't notice him. What an intelligent and trusting fellow! We were impressed by how well all the animals got on with each other. Whether dog, parrot or tortoise. They were all interested, peaceful and sometimes quite loud hahaha. A really beautiful place surrounded by lots of land with cows and horses. Simply wonderful!
14.11.23 It is now time to slowly say goodbye to Bolivia. We have 120 km to go to the border with Paraguay. But wait, there was something else! On a detour, which is common here - and from our point of view makes for a good change - we meet an overlander from Guatemala who has broken down with his mobile home. His name is Ivan and his engine is no longer running. We chat and learn that he is realizing his dream of travelling in South America. He asks us to call the police station in the next village for help. They know him, as he had already had problems with his car the day before. No sooner said than done, we drive to the next village, but we don't find a police station there. When we ask a fruit seller where the police are, she calls her friend, who already knew Ivan. What a coincidence! She said he would send a tow truck straight away. And by the way, she asked if we still needed money for Paraguay. Two birds with one stone! Ivan gets help and we Guarani.
Nature is changing. We are starting to feel the tropical heat and we have definitely left the Bolivian Altiplano. Goodbye beautiful Bolivia, we'll be back next year! Now it's time for the Chaco of Paraguay...