The past week has been one of the best and worst of my trip so far – it started with plummeting down Death Road, apparently the ‘world’s most dangerous’ street on a mountain bike (just outside La Paz), and ended with several trips to a hospital. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a connection between the two. Surprisingly I actually managed to survive the former – and had an absolute blast bombing down the gravelly, one-wrong-turn-and-you’re-off-the-cliff path at around 40kmph – only to fall prey to a ‘parasite’ on a three day trip in the Amazon later on in the week.
So all in all it’s been a pretty eventful week, and aside from the dizzy spells, stomach pains and questionable hospitals, it’s been incredible. We flew to Rurrenabaque from La Paz – less than tempted by the bus that snakes its way down the incredibly narrow and not surprisingly accident-prone Death Road – and arrived in the backpacker hotspot of the Bolivian Amazonia on a bright, sunny and scorchingly humid Wednesday morning. Three slightly awkward hours squashed up against fellow passengers in a jeep later and we were drifting through the Amazon river in a tiny motorboat, coasting past caiman alligators, cute-faced yellow monkeys battling over bananas and pink dolphins darting elegantly in and out of the glistening water. It was pretty idyllic.
As that would suggest the pampas region – largely flat wetland/grassland – was spectacular. After three days touring the local wildlife hotspots I’d held a wild boa constrictor (big achievement given the fact I’m terrified of the things), suffered a baby caiman being put on my shoulder in the middle of the night, and fished for piranhas that we were then served for dinner – certainly fresh. I can’t say I actually caught one myself despite spending about three hours trying, but it’s all about the team result, right?
So the Amazon and Death Road are both on my list of travel highlights so far – and the Uyuni salt flats, south of Bolivia, are following closely behind. More on that in the next blog post when I catch up on all the other adventures I’ve been having over the past few weeks (dependent on finding a reliable internet connection in Bolivia, which is somehow proving a bigger challenge than Death Road…)