July 2023

The first week of July we stayed at a camp groud in La Paz enjoying spending time with other overlanders. After that, we drove the Death Road. From there we drove on to Trinidad which is a town near the jungle. On our way there we could already see quite some wild life. We saw crocodiles / caiman in the water next to the road and made an emergency stop because there was a sloth trying to cross the main road. Sloths are very slow and pretty docile. With all the traffic passing there was little chance the sloth would make it across alive. So I picked it up and carried it to the other side of the road, the direction it was going. It was so incredible cute, that for a moment I considered just putting it in the van 🙂 But of course I had to let it go, at least we had the honour of seeing it up close and helping it.

In order to get to Trinidad (from La Paz) you have to take the RN3, which crosses the Rio Mamore. And despite the RN3 being one of Bolivia’s main roads, there’s no bridge. This is, partially, due to the difference in water level between the dry and wet season. So in order to cross the river we had to take another ferry.

Near Trinidad there is an eco reserve called Chuchini which preserves the area and wildlife and is located at the southern edge of the amazon basin. We camped here for several days. I celebrated my birthday there as well, the first and probably the only time I officially had my birthday in winter! However with temperatures around 25C and up (tropical climate) it still didn’t feel like winter 🙂

We went on a wild life tour. In the evening we saw caiman, crocodile, several birds and a tree snake. Chuchini is situated at a lake, that in the wet season is in contact with the river Ibare. There are several hundreds of caiman and crocodiles living in the lake. During our night tour we saw row after row of red eyes glowing in the water.

Nevertheless there is a a completely unsecured zipline across the lake, to be used by anyone who wants to, including children 🙂 There’s no supervision, nothing! it’s simple: just don’t fall off! Children here are definitely tougher and more independent than their European peers. They walk sometimes long distances along the road to school alone or with other children from an early age. After school they can be seen working in the fields or minding a shop. At the camp ground lived two children, one of them a boy of eight. While I was using the wifi close to their house, the boy came limping towards the house, he had fallen a hole in his knee. There was no crying or screaming for his mum. He rinsed of his knee under a tap and went inside. He came back out, carrying some stuff and sat close by. He sprayed some antiseptic spray on the wound and then set about bandaging up his own knee and even did a pretty good job. After that he took the stuff back inside and carried on playing outside. That was it, no drama, no cookies for comfort or anything. And if there is some drama like a fight, adults tend to let the children solve things themself, sometimes with the help of an older sibling. We usually don’t see young (primary school age) children here with a mobile phone and certainly not a tablet. They play outside with each other and usually an old toy. Teenagers often do have a phone, but they certainly don’t spend all their time on it. It makes me wonder if this is better?

The wildlife tour also included a day tour on a small boat. We had a great day. We saw several birds like herrings, king fishers and a few hawks. We also saw several turtles and pink river dolphins! Contrary to dolphins that live in the ocean, the pink dolphins can’t jump out of the water, so it was practically impossible to really get them on camera. We had a great lunch on the boat which felt very luxurious. We relaxed in hammocks and even had a mud bath, which was great fun! Because it was very hot and humid we couldn’t leave Binkie in the van, not even in the shade, so we brought him along on the boat trip. Although this was definitely not one of his highlights, he did alright. He just accepted his faith and looked around, mostly from the safety of his backpack. On the campsite itself there was also wildlife to be seen. A rescued monkey that was only a few months old and an ostrich kept us company. We also saw many beautiful Ara’s. We enjoyed several days of camping here, the only downside being the huge amount of mosquitoes as soon as the sun set, which meant we spend the evenings in the van with everything closed.

From Trinidad we drove to Santa Cruz to go drive the ruta Del Che. In the area of this route in the village La Higuera Che Guevara was murdered in 1967. Not the reason we wanted to drive this route though, it was just very scenic.

However before we could get to this route we had to take a detour. Bolivia is known for its protests, it’s practically part of their culture. And although things had been quiet for a while we spotted a road block the previous day, luckily for us we were going the other direction. But now we were less lucky. Instead of waiting for the protesters to open the road again at some point, we decided to take matters in to our own hands and take a detour. On the government website we saw that the same road was still blocked in the evening so we were glad we had taken the two hour detour. Usually they just block the road for a few days, generally Bolivia is a safe country. Unless you’re a thief, then apparently they hang you…

So far Bolivia has been easy when it comes to wild camping and we have managed to find several nice spots to spend some days, and after a few days of driving that is usually what we do.

We had an enjoyable few days at this spot.

From the countryside we drove back to the city, Sucre in this case. So far Bolivian’s cities haven’t exactly impressed us, but Sucre was quite nice. Most of the buildings are white and the city reminded us of Leon, Nicaragua. Here we also got on the roof of a church. Iglesia San Felipe Neri is part of a convent. There are still some sisters living there and there’s a private school in the building. It’s a catholic church build between 1795 and 1800. Of course Sucre also has a main square, Plaza de 25 Mayo, and a viewpoint called La Recoleta. We visited this viewpoint and a nice French restaurant with Laura and Tato, two Colombian overlanders who we had met before, in Peru and La Paz. What very few people know (we didn’t) is that Sucre is also the capital of Bolivia. Yes Bolivia has two capitals, La Paz, which most people know and Sucre. The government is housed in La Paz. For tourists Sucre has much more to offer than La Paz. But when it comes to all sorts of facilities we overlanders need, such as car parts and laundries, La Paz is really by far the better option. We spend 5 enjoyable days in Sucre and then drove into the mountains to the Maragua crater.

This crater isn’t a former volcano. The most likely theory is that at some point a meteorite created this huge crater that is big enough for a few villages. However it could also be formed by a geological process, or perhaps it was once a lake. Apparently it is not important enough to investigate so the creation remains unclear, but the landscape is certainly beautiful. While driving out of this area we spotted a very nice wild campsite in a dry riverbed near the entrance to a canyon and we spend the last few days of July here.

2 thoughts on “July 2023”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I already checked to see if I missed a notification (yesterday). But now I think you were creating this blog at that same moment 😊
    Glad to see you enjoying Bolivia. Thanks for the pictures and videos!
    Grtz Ilona

    Reply

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