Mar. 8 - 12, Day 150 - 154, BOLIVIA NORTH


View Larger Map  NOTE: I did not travel on the blue marked road that is south between points B and C

DAY 150-151, Mar.8-9, 2012, Copacabana, Temp 12-6C Rain (570/20,190 km)

Big, cold riding day, but at least I was well rested.  Any day with a border is going to be a bit longer and the Bolivian border was terrible!  I initially thought if I was delayed I would stay in Puno, Peru, but the day went well enough and I managed to get to where I really wanted to go, Copacabana.

Ride report: Calca first 50km C6R5T3V8 excellent river valley riding with interesting characters.  Next 50km C6R7T2V8 more river valley with good roads.  50 km more with less curves, but still great C3R5T3V8 road got a bit rough.  At the 200km point of the day from Calca to Copacabana I found myself on top again C6R8T2V8 and hitting the 20,000km point of my trip!  100km on both sides of Puno it gets pretty flat and straight C3R7-5T2V7/8 vast prairie with mountain views which includes Lake Titicaca.


tight bridge, but the traffic is light

River bed riding

Highway side market


A common site to see a road side town in this area

mom packing three kids

More classically dressed elder

This was great!  The cop stopped to give everyone a ride



Lots of road side herd movement.  Seems the women take
care of the sheep and cows in this area.


Ok cow shot, but houses too

My old summer gloves became my
rain gloves with duct repairs


Becoming snowy in the Highlands.  Please stay sun! 

More Alpacs so I must be high up
Riding the Highlands

Interesting housing


 20,000km POINT OF THE TRIP


STOP!  Brad you just hit 20,000km !!!

It always amazes me to see people in what I think is the
middle of nowhere.  Where did she come from?
K'ilafornia?


mud brick construction

main road through Juliaca which was bigger than expected

Cold and uninviting
Incredible



Closing on Puno

First look at Puno and Lake Titcaca

Puno, not as attractive as hoped

Not sure, but I think there is something here about one
head in the light while the other is in the shadows?


Wonderful amounts of stone fence

and mud brick fence too

Car crash!  I arrived after the crash and all seemed well

Look away animal rights peeps!
These  LIVE sheep were strapped to
the roof and freaked me out when
I saw the luggage moving!



Skirting Lake Titicaca on the Peru side.

The riding basically ended at the Peru / Bolivia border as it is only 8km to Copacabana from the frontier.  I did have to cross a bunch of fist size rocks covering the road which was likely remnants of a similar protest to the one North of Mancora near the northern border of Peru that I had driven through weeks back.

Remnants of an old road block on the Peru side

Border town, Peru side

Unwelcome to Bolivia


HUGE -  border side story! Existing Peru was no picnic, but there was no traffic so it went well enough.  You could feel the corruption in the air as they really seemed to look for anything to charge you money for; example Peru insurance (covered by my "planetary" insurance).  4 stops for Peru; National Police, Migration, Aduana return for the bike and another last security check.  20 min total.

Then there was Bolivia which looked easy at first.  I entered the Aduana office (bike importing) to find no one around.  I could hear a couple of them having a good time in the staff room on this fine Thursday afternoon around 3:30pm, so I knocked.  The noise reduced and the first guy out of the room took me in to the Aduana officer's office which was vacant at the moment. The guy didn't look very official with no badges or official shirt/ jacket, anything.  He proceeded to get my information (copy of passport and bike info) then left returning a couple minutes later with a stumbling drunk guy in an Aduana uniform with badges, etc.  It turned out the first guy was just a buddy of Julio the drunk officer.  The two of us struggled to get Julio to put his password in to the aduana issuing program and fill out all the info required.  Good enough and done, but wait...we can't print it, what is wrong...Julio was now sleeping at this point so I decided to get my immigration (stamp in passport) and come back or just go (which I think you could do).

The National Police, however, were becoming very interested in me at this point as I had been at the border for over an hour now and they wanted to make sure I saw them and paid the country entrance fee of $5 before I left (fee doesn't exist btw).  I told them my problem and said they needed to sort out their fellow Bolivian agent.  They went in took a look and told me I should simply come back tomorrow to get the Aduana.  I said ok I'll be at Copacabana to which they replied, "No, you have to go back to Peru until tomorrow."  This is when my blood started boiling as I didn't want to go through the Peru shit again and try to explain why I was rejected by Bolivia, plus there was no where to stay within 100 km back on the Peru side.  I told the cops I would leave my bike at the border and bus to Copacabana returning the next day.  They said "No".  "F@#k", I said and Vstromed my way back in to Julio offices were he was crumpled in his chair.  After 5 minutes of shaking the man and asking him if he would like another beer or a coffee I revived him.  Very out of it and a lot more agreeable this time I managed to grab a seat behind the desk beside him and proceeded to put my details in to his computer myself.  Once again we got to the printing issue, urgh!  10 minutes of patience and friendship making were needed to get Julio to focus just enough to find the printer button, and it was done!!!  Truly anything can be accomplished if you are put in right situation.

The absolute kicker of this story was after hanging out with Julio off and on for 2 hours and putting my name and details in the computer over and over again when I went to leave saying "Nice to meet you Julio", he replied "Nice to meet you...ah...what is your name?"
The first shot I tried to sneak of
Julio and his friend helping out

When I returned I got a lot more liberal with the camera!


Bolivian Aduana agent a little too drunk to understand his computer

Tucked in with Julio guiding him
through the details.  Dealing with an
English speaking drunk is hard, but
in Spanish for me, impossible.


I stepped out of the aduana office to see the police were busy with a bus so I hopped on the bike and simply rode past them.  Fed up with the Bolivian border there was no way I was paying a bribe now or ever!

Got my Aduana and I'm out of here!



In to Copacabana as the day light lessened I found the highly recommended "La Cupula" and grabbed a room with bike parking right outside the door, YES!  I unpacked and took a well deserved nap with the heater cranked up.  Very cosy.

The next day I relaxed and went for a short walk around town for lunch and a look.  Unfortunately I wasn't as good as I thought and it was time for a Cipro, some Altitude pills and Voltaren muscle rub based on a Canadian doctors recommendation from dinner the night before.  My stay in Copacabana was short and I didn't venture out to any of the islands, but I did enjoy the place and would say it is probably one of the better places to stay in Bolivia, especially if you stay and eat at La Cupula which is full every night for dinner (RECOMMEND).

Quick tour of view, bike parking and room at La Cupula, very sweet set up.

I could have a bigger room, but the
bike would be much farther away


"NUMBER ONE!" in Copacabana.  I wish I needed laundry.

Insane bank lines



This little guy is having a good time

Central Church

Lake Titicaca, Copacabana marina

I don't like the shot, but it's needed
to show these tourist boats

Sneaky photo of elder thatching

Road up to La Cupula was tough when ill

The bay as the sun drops

Lake Titicaca view from the bike

banana flambeau after steak dinner

































































DAY 152-153, Mar.10-11, 2012, La Paz, Temp 6-15C (150/20,340 km)

Although I could have stayed in Copacabana another day or so my determination to get to Argentina with a bit of good weather left in the season drove me forward (through Bolivia in 9 days).  I had wanted to visit La Paz after hearing that other countries were refusing to play futbol in their stadium because of the altitude.  What would this place look like I wondered?


In no rush to get going as La Paz was only 150km away and a very busy place I took in a good breakfast and liesurely made my way to the petrol station where I was welcomed by a big line up.

Gas Problem: Every rider here before me had been bragging about the economical gas in Bolivia. Great I thought, ok so there is a line I thought, but I didn't know I was going to pay triple!  Still cheap enough at $1.20/litre that wasn't the problem.  The problem was the government had just introduced this new price point for foreign plates and most service stations didn't know how to deal with it meaning they wouldn't sell me gas, which became quite apparent the following days in La Paz.  Fortunately, This station did, but it didn't get the feeling he wanted to.  Doesn't anyone else see a great opportunity here to rip the Man off?

Waited for gas behind a bunch of reusable containers.

Copacabana from Hwy 2

Loaded bike enjoying Titicaca































Yay a boat!   An excellent 40km of riding to the "boat" at Tiquina C7/8R6/7T2V8/9 skirting Lake Titicaca.  A row of torn up barges sat trying to fill enough to make it worth the 10 min crossing, $3 for a bike (the bus in the photos actually backed off and went to another boat since we took too long I guess).

I just rolled up on the first barge

Dirty bike and dodgy footing

A little chat, I think he was amazed
Off to the other side while the skipper makes reservations.


Good father and son opportunity


After the barge crossing 50km to Haurina C4R5T2V8 still riding around the lake.  Then a straight 50km shot to El Alto a nasty town on the edge of La Paz that you have to go through even if you aren't going to La Paz as the main highway bisects it.  C3R7T3V7 nice open prairies and then people everywhere on the road side.

Road works done by the women



Where you don't want to be

Filling road holes with stones is a good idea.  Most places
don't do anything.  This was one of few places I saw this. 

Still skirting Titicaca after Huarina

Entering La Paz from above afforded me some great views of the city that sits in a valley.  It looked a little crammed from above and it looked a little crammed when I got in to town too.  There are some good sections of town, but a lot of it sits on the tight hill side so a good clutch and brakes are essential.  Using my Lonely Planet I headed to Hostal Astoria which they termed "underrated" and they weren't kidding.  $14 for private bath, TV, writing desk, great shower and WIFI in the room was damn good in my book.  Oh, and I got to park my bike in a showcase room (see photo) in the hotel after being rejected by 3 parking lots who don't take motos, wtf?

Local performing artists as I passed on the Hwy

Always love kids checking the bike
from moving vehicles

Bolivia tolls only charging to go to
La Paz

El Alto, yikes

Hwy detour, good to have a Vstrom

In a place of dirt and dust it was incredible to see this very
expensive truck shiny and clean

The turn to La Paz was tough to find
 with all these people in the way

View of La Paz from what I think is the only road in?



Tricky Hotel Parking at Astoria


All bikes should be parked behind
glass



 Roof top views from Hostal Astoria

Not flashy, but it has everything


Took the Lonely Planet walking tour to get a feel for the place.  My feelings = surrounded, impeded,  frustrated, curious and relieved.  My experiences = Someone driving by threw mud on us or something gross, a couple guys looked like thieves so I bolted and I stupidly decided to buy a $7 - 32 GB USB stick from a street vendor that of course didn't work.  At least at the end of my tour I found La Luna bar behind an unwelcoming, huge steel door that is locked until the bartender lets you in (did I say "at least").  From this place I met a bunch of coke head expats who were working normal jobs in La Paz.  I did get some tips on where else to go and made my way to a cool bar with 80's cell phones on the wall, records, license plates, etc and a 20 litre water cooler of vodka.  After this I made my way to Club 36 for all you can drink between 12-4am for $5!  Took a taxi 5 blocks to get home at dawn and that is what I remember of La Paz...

RECOMMEND: Hostal Astoria, Restaurant Eli's and Club 36.


Streets and streets of Street Markets





Plaza San Francisco

Extremely rough sidewalks

Aisle 5 the Plumbing section

Aisle 7, Herbs and spices

The Deli

And a shitload of shoppers!

Reminds me of the classic movie
scene where a kid has to kiss
"the Man's" boot

How they power the markets 
Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz

Roof top view from Hostal Astoria




















































DAY 154, Mar.12, 2012, DEATH ROAD, Temp 5-20C Rain (100/20,440 km) Max Elev: 4670m!


Fun, 1.5 hours of traffic to get out of La Paz due to too many F'ing cars and not narrow streets with the addition of a few protests and road closures.  Loved it!  This was the type of traffic I couldn't squeeze my moto past which really sucked. Bikes don't do well idling in traffic.  As well, I was a little nervous about taking on the most dangerous road in the World, which gained this title due to amount of lives it has claimed.  So a less than happy start!


La Paz Traffic, I bet you're happy you are watching this and not in it

When the traffic doesn't move, read



An absolute roller coaster of a ride out to the "Death Road" otherwise know as Yungas North (apparently Yungas South is worse, but doesn't have the death stats to earn the title).  A great road out even though it was raining and SNOWING mostly due to reaching an elevation of 4670m which would be the highest point of my entire trip!  La Paz to the Death Road C6R6T2V9 (Ruta 3) incredible views.

Cool truck, cool view

SNOW!?!

Making it rain

Amazing valley


DEATH ROAD
In short, I was apprehensive about doing the Death Road, but very glad I did even though it meant I would have to make my way through La Paz again.  Definitely one of the Highlights of my Trip!!!  C7R2T0V9 rough road, amazing views, riding through waterfalls.  Over all a fantastic experience.  Note the traffic score T=0 since I didn't see a soul on the road likely due to the bypassing highway that opened a couple years ago.  I had no problems with the fact there were no oncoming buses.  Believe me, the track was tight enough for just my bike only.  Mission accomplished!

Side note - Bike dump: After making my way successfully down the Death Road I entered Coroico on this very cool cobble stone hwy.  Once in town I got directions to Sol y Luna and looked up to the top of the hill.  Damn, I was hoping it would be in town, but instead it was another 4 km up a dirt/mud road.  Not slippery mud!  Of course after handling the deadliest road in the world with out even a slip or bobble I just had to put an exclamation mark on the day by dumping my bike 200m from the my destination right in front of a local carrying a fence on his shoulder.  Urgh.  Thanks for the help unknown do-gooder.

RECOMMEND:  Death Road by Moto, Sol y Luna in Coroico the jungle town that sits on the end of the Death Road.  WATCH THE DEATH ROAD VIDEOS!

Death Road intro/entrance

Basically it states drive on the left,
 with lights on and Good Luck!
Left outside lane going downhill?


Let's begin

Quite the drop off

I'm praying alright


Waterfall on the Death Road



Look at all the trees wanting to fall
on the road or that had  been cleared

Imagine two buses passing here

Coroico  perched like a fortress


Cobble stone hwy in to Coroico

Views from Coroico.  Easy to see
why it's a huge vacation spot 
Awesome.  2nd dump of the trip.  Obviously light as the
tank bag didn't even come off.  Hey Brad, that's a big bike!

Let's cheers to surviving!

Sol y Luna grounds / nature hike

The map looks good, but is it right?



Very necessary swing


More good views

One of the flash Cabanas

Stay tuned...Potosi Mines and Uyuni Salt Flats up next...


Other Stuff

Looks heavy, may be it's not, but anything after 5 km
would get to you.

loaded up








An ant carrying 50 times his weight






A bit lazy.  The GPS locator can not see the satellite inside
 so why not just hang it out the window MacGyver.





A frog...

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