Discover Bolivia

33 Days.  Level: Medium   4670 km,  55% offroad
It is exactly as it is called: Discover the many facet’s of Bolivia, from the steaming South America Amazon to the freezing highlands.
We’ll visit just about every single highlight of this adventurous country, crossing deserts of sand as well as deserts of salt. We’ll crawl underground into 500 year old silver-mines and climb a 5,400 mtr (almost 18,000 ft) mountain. We’ll ride down the infamous “Death Road”, fly 1,5 Km on a zip-line, swim with dolphins, crocodiles and fish for piranhas. Soak in a “hot” volcanic lake, meet “Mennonites” (farmers who live like 100 years ago) and indigenous tribes. Eat fresh trout from the highest navigable lake in the world. Follow in the footsteps of Che Guevara, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Blow up some dynamite and play with real steam-locomotives.
This tour always starts on Wednesday!

Day 1.  Airport pickup at Viru viru, Santa Cruz  (alt. 400 mtr.)
We pick you up at the airport of Santa Cruz, Bolivia from where we drive to the small town Samaipata (120 km, 3 hours). There we check into a comfortable hotel and spend the rest of the day to relax and rest from the flight.  If your flight arrives late, we will spend the night in Santa Cruz.   In that case the following day is considered day 1.

Day 2.  Samaipata   (alt. 1,600 mtr.)
We start with a “briefing” where we learn more about our route, the local “traffic rules” and about each other.  To get used to your bike we go for a ride to the archeological site “El Fuerte” which is 5 km on tarmac and 5 km on dirt.  “El Fuerte” is an old Inca town build around the, much older, largest stone-sculpture in America.

Day 3. To La Higuera. (alt. 1,900 mtr)  175 km, 50% offroad
In the morning we go towards the tiny town La Higuera, the place where revolutionary hero Ernesto Che Guevara was captured and executed.
We stop for lunch in Vallegrande where we also visit the “Che Guevara” museum and the hospital-laundry where Che’s lifeless body was presented to the world.
At the end of the afternoon we arrive in La Higuera.   With some luck you can have a chat with eye-witnesses of the events

Day 4. To Villa Serrano.  120 km,  100% offroad
After visiting the school building where Che Guevara was killed we leave towards Villa Serrano.  On the suspension-bridge over the Rio Grande we’ll have a picnic-lunch and if the conditions are good (mostly the water level) you can go for a swim.
We’ll arrive in Villa Serrano in the afternoon where, if we are lucky, we can see the world’s largest charango (a 10 string guitar) build to commemorate don Mauro, a local charango hero.

Day 5. To Sucre. (alt. 2,800 mtr) 190 km, 50% offroad
We leave Villa Serrano early in the morning so we can visit the Tarabuco “Sunday-market”. This is the only place in Bolivia where you can take photos of traditionally dressed indigenous people without them turning away or throwing stuff at you.
After lunch we continue to Sucre.  The rest of the afternoon and evening is for exploring this beautiful colonial city. The city-center itself, originally Bolivia’s capital, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 6. To Potosi. (alt. 4,000 mtr)  155 km, 0% offroad
Mostly on smooth tarmac we start to climb towards the altiplano (the highlands) until we reach Potosi, at 4,000 meters (13,000 ft) above sea level the highest city in the world.

Day 7. The silver mines.
In the morning we’ll visit the “miner’s market” where you can buy anything, ranging from coca leaves to dynamite. Here we’ll do some interesting shopping to have some “boys fun” later.
Then we continue to the mines where we will be “geared up” and descent into the belly of “Pajcha Mama” (mother earth) to see a 500 year old, still operating silver mine.
(Not suitable for those who don’t like small spaces). 
When we come out of the mines we’ll find something to “blow up”.
After lunch we can explore the “Casa de Moneda” (the mint). At one time every single coin, used in the western world, was made here.

Day 8. To Tupiza. (alt. 2950 mtr.)  255 km, 0% offroad
Again on smooth asphalt we ride due south and decent to the more agreeable temperatures of Tupiza, the town that played a major part in the hunt for (and consequent death of) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Day 9.  Following the footsteps of Butch and Sundance  100 km,  100% offroad
In the area of Tupiza we visit several places where Butch & Sundance committed their ambushes and robberies. The scenery is straight out of an old John Wayne movie. We’ll have a picnic on the riverbanks, surrounded by red cliffs.

Day 10. To Uyuni. (alt. 3,700 mtr.)  185 km, 100% offroad
Crossing incredible, surrealistic scenery we head for Uyuni where we will visit a “train graveyard”, a fantastic collection of discarded railway material dating back to the 19th century. This includes at least a dozen steam locomotives.

Day 11. Salar de Uyuni (Largest salt-flats in the world)  230 km, 100% offroad (mostly salt)
The “Salar de Uyuni” is a dried up salt-lake the size of a small European country. Since there are no references what so ever (no trees, houses, roads or mountains) and because there are only two colors in the world (blue sky and white salt) there is no perspective. Your brain will have a meltdown and you can take the most unreal photos. Even the human eye cannot see the difference between a real car and a toy car.

Day 12.  To Oruro 320 km, 75% offroad
In the morning we leave Uyuni behind us and passing several small villages, we make our way to Oruro, famous for its markets and grill-restaurants

Day 13. To Copacabana, Lake Titicaca 360 km,  0% offroad
Passing chaotic El Alto (more than a million people in low-rise buildings) we reach Lake Titicaca. Here on the shores of the highest navigable lake in the world (3,800 mtr) we will eat fresh trout and enjoy the views of snow-capped mountains above the blue water.

Day 14. Visit The islands of the Sun and the Moon
Exchanging our bikes for a boat, we’ll visit the 2 legendary islands from the Inca times. On the island of the Sun we’ll make a short hike with fantastic views of the mountains that border lake Titicaca.

Day 15.  To La Paz (alt. 3,600 mtr.) 145 km,  0% offroad
In the morning we leave Lake Titicaca behind and arrive in La Paz halfway the afternoon. It is possible to visit the “witches market” where you could buy anything ranging from magic potions and amulets to mummified llama embryos.

Day 16. Visit Valle de la Luna or / and Climb Chakaltaya. (alt. 5,400 mtr – 18,000 ft)
In the morning we visit the “Valle de la Luna” (moon valley), a surreal valley filled with chaotic mud-sculptures created by rains and floods.
In the afternoon we climb Chakaltaya, a 5,400 meter high mountain. There is a ski-lodge at 5,300 meter which makes it the highest ski-piste in the world.

Day 17. The death road (alt. 4,700 to 2,500 mtr.)  85 km, 80% offroad
From La Paz we ride to Coroico on what was once officially “the most dangerous road in the world”.  Plummeting down into the Yungas the views are magnificent and if you keep your speed down, you have a very good chance to arrive safely in Coroico. For the really brave we’ll finish today’s ride with a 1,5 km zip-line adventure.

Day 18. To Caranavi (alt. 300 mtr.) 75 km, 100% offroad
The “Death road” does not stop at Coroico. In fact from here on it really gets exiting since we are no longer alone. We have to share what little road there is with trucks, buses and cars that race against each other in both directions.

Day 19. To Rurrennabaque 250 km,  100% offroad
The narrow mountain-road slowly levels out as we reach the edge of the Amazon basin. Late in the afternoon we reach Rurrennabaque, the jungle-trekking capital of Bolivia. Although it is a native Amazonian town, there seem to be more gringos then indians on its dusty streets.

Day 20.  Into the jungle
We leave our bikes at the hotel and instead go by jeep to Santa Rosa where we exchange the jeep for a traditional longboat and head up the river Yacuma (lots of wildlife to be seen) until we reach our “lodge”. Enjoying a cold drink we see the sun go down over the pampas after which we’ll go crocodile spotting.

Day 21. Anacondas and piranhas.
First we’ll try to find the (in)famous anaconda, the largest water-snake in the world (up to 10 meters), followed by wildlife spotting. Expect to see turtles, monkeys, caipibaras, macaws, sloths and many more.  After lunch and siesta we will try our luck with piranha-fishing.

Day 22. Swimming together with dolphins
In the morning a sunrise-walk followed by, for many people, the highlight: Swimming together with the amazing pink dolphins.  After lunch we return by boat and jeep back to Rurrenabaque.

Day 23. To San Borja 150 km  100% offroad
Again we set out on a road that exists by the grace of the rain gods. On the road-side you may encounter sunbathing crocodiles and other animals out for a stroll. In San Borja we will spend the night in a very special “Amazonian resort”.

Day 24. To San Ignacio de los moxos 140 km, 100% offroad
In this sleepy indigenous town we’ll spend the night. Breakfast will be at the local market.

Day 25. To Trinidad 95 km, 100% offroad
Trinidad, the capital of the department Beni, is a dusty town where you can see Boa Constrictors of 3 meters swimming in the open sewers.  It has is a fantastic plaza and a 7 meter “pet anaconda”.
Special attraction is a Boeing 727 (a big plane) that crashed in the jungle close to town.

Day 26. To San Xavier 415 km, 0% offroad (but there are more holes then asphalt)
Today we “enjoy” asphalt again. But don’t be too happy, you’ll be plenty busy avoiding potholes the size of minivans.  At the end of this rather long day we reach San Xavier, one of the mission towns of chiquitania.  Before we set off to bed we’ll have a look at the humongous wooden church.

Day 27. Via Concepcion to San Ignacion 230 km  70% offroad  
Via the capital of the missions, Concepcion, where we visit the cathedral and a restoration facility / museum, we ride to San Ignacio.  After visiting the wooden church we’ll enjoy sitting on the beach of a huge artificial lake, watching local fisherman at work.

Day 28. To Santiago de Chiquitos 360 km, 50% offroad 
In the morning we leave San Ignacio.  Via the missions of Santa Anna and San Rafael, we arrive around noon on the “Santa Cruz / Puerto Quijaro highway. On this smooth asphalt we continue to Robore, a military outpost, where we turn off to our destination Santiago de Chiquitos. You can visit the mission church, but mostly we are here for the spectacular natural site Aguas Calientes.

Day 29.  Aguas Calientes  80 km, 0% offroad   
Aguas Calientes is a lake filled with hot springs, so the water is around 35 to 40 degrees.  We’ll spend the day hanging around and in the water, which is supposed to have healing powers, so our “saddle sore” should be completely gone at the end of the day.

Day 30. To San Jose de Chiquitos 160 km, 0% offroad   
Leaving Santiago in the morning we arrive in San Jose, the last of our mission towns, well before noon.  We’ll look at the church, the original location of Santa Cruz and walk around some spectacular lunar landscapes just out of town.

Day 31. To Samaipata 420 km, 10% offroad
Mostly on smooth asphalt we head back to Samaipata, the place where we left almost a month ago. Steadily we climb on curvy mountain roads towards the pleasant climate of Samaipata.

Day 32. To Santa Cruz
We leave our bikes behind and set off for Santa Cruz where we can do some last minute souvenirs shopping and enjoy Brazilian churasquero and Oriental cuisine.

Day 33. To the airport.
We bring you to the airport, help you with the check-in and as you walk through customs we say goodbye. Hopefully we will meet again.

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