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Rambling Bolivia

With a population of 9.1 million and about 60% living in poverty, Bolivia is the poorest country in South America.  Due to this country’s impoverishment, rambling Bolivia contrasts greatly to it’s neighboring countries, such as Peru, Chile, and Argentina.  In many regions of Bolivia, the landscape appears untouched, stretching for miles on either side of the highway with only the occasional llama pack and herder, dry-stacked rock wall, or mud brick hut nestled in the valleys.  Men and women in indigenous dress abound, carrying babies in brightly colored textiles while walking alongside alpaca and llamas, creating the typical South American postcard image that tour books so often highlight.

The opportunity to witness the indigenous way of life and rolling hills studded with llamas, not to mention boundless camping options due to little regulation in rural regions, are strongpoints to driving Bolivia.  In addition, food, accommodations and souvenirs are extremely cheap.  However, be prepared for a lack of modern amenities, well-stocked stores for provisioning, and terrible roads.  In fact, the drive from La Paz to the Uyuni Salt Flat primarily consists of rocky, washboard-covered dirt roads.  While Bolivia is a country that is not to be missed during your rambles, if you plan to explore the rural country, provision before-hand and make sure to fill your auxiliary gas tanks.

 

 
COROICO

Nestled in a valley at the end of what is supposedly the most dangerous road in the world, Coroico is a picturesque, flowery town surrounded by green mountains in the Yungas region of Bolivia.  That dangerous dirt road, the Yungas Road (or “death road” as many call it), now primarily serves as a route for bikers, since a paved road was built in 2006.

Since Coroico is only a 3 hour drive from La Paz, this town of only 2,361 is somewhat of a tourist trap, and most businesses cater to foreign visitors.  As a result, there are an abundance of hostels, hotels, restaurants, and hiking/exploration tours to choose from, however you will be disappointed if you are looking for an “authentic” Bolivian experience.  

What to expect from Coroico:

The views from Coroico are spectacular, but tourism websites tend to over-exaggerate Coroico’s strongpoints.  The entire town can be explored within one day, and activities are limited.  You can explore Coroico’s natural surroundings, which include hiking, swimming or rafting in nearby rivers, or visiting neighboring farms.  The town is pleasant, but not action-packed, and the tourist vibe makes it feel a bit fake.

TIPS:

  • Internet is extremely slow here, so plan to work on internet items before or after your journey to the valley.
  • We were hit with altitude sickness and amebic dysentery in Coroico.  Avoid altitude sickness by drinking plenty of water, chewing on coca leaves, and avoiding alcohol.  The amebic dysentery could have been from the water or food that was not properly washed.  Try to avoid uncooked foods (such as salads) that accompany your meals, and, as always in Bolivia, drink bottled water.

 


UYUNI SALT FLAT

The largest salt flat in the world is a site that should not be missed!  Camp on the salt-encrusted terrain and wake up to a stunningly white plain that surrounds you from all sides.  To learn more about the Uyuni Salt Flat, read the Ramble Writer article here: ramblewriter.com/ramblings/?p=433

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