La Paz and the Death Road

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Bolivia

When we bought the tickets to La Paz the guy told us proud that they even have a toilet on board. We arrived at the Sucre bus station 45 minutes before and paid our terminal tax. Waiting for our bus we stepped out with our luggage as soon as the bus arrived.

But the bus driver didn’t accept our big backpacks since they have to be checked in to check out size and weight. That was a first time for us. Michael rushed up and down to the agency to check in our bags. Sitting in the bus with a 13 hours trip ahead of us we didn’t think of going to the bathroom before. Why, since there was a toilet on board.

When I wanted to use the bathroom it was locked. The guy told me that it is not working, great. The next opportunity would be at midnight in Potosi. Waiting for the stop we really had to concentrate. The bumpy road didn’t really help and unfortunately when we arrived in Potosi, the bus terminal was closed and no toilet around. So the bus driver told us the next stop would be in three hours. For sure we couldn’t sleep until 3am and where happy when we finally arrived.

Due to traffic jam in La Paz we had to walk to our hostel. After checking in we headed towards town and ended up in the Artisan Market. Big mistake since we couldn’t stop shopping and we ended up with an extra bag of 7 kg. Luckily we just have sent off a parcel from Chile with 5 kg and now we just added another 7 kg to our bag. Well, we won’t come back here.

The next day we went on the Mountain Bike Tour with Adventures on Wheels. It was always our dream to drive down the Death Road which was closed for cars since 8 years. 64 km and only 24 km paved the road winds down from 4700 down to 1200m.

What a blast, luckily we had been only a small group with 6 people and two guides. So Michael and I could chase down the road with one of the guides while the four guides stayed behind with the second guide. After almost 4 hours we stopped at a hotel to have buffet lunch, a shower and enjoyed the pool for one hour.

After such an adrenaline shock we came back to the hostel smiling. What a good way to continue to Lake Titicaca and the Sun Island.

Accommodation: Hostal Republica

Price: BOB $ 70 p. p, 6 bed dorm, shared bathroom, incl. breakfast

Comment: nice patios, friendly staff. They have a travel agency just opposite the street.


Tour Operator Death Road: Adventur on Wheels Bolivia

Comment: very professional and smaller groups, so you can really enjoy the thrill of the Death


Sucre – the white city

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Bolivia

After only 3 hours we arrived in the White City of Bolivia. The old core of the city was really beautiful and the people very friendly. We fell in love with this city immediately and could have spent more time here. But we are on a mission and have to keep on going.

But not without seeing those 5050 dinosaur treks in the nearby park. With two other backpackers we jumped in a taxi and went to the Park Cretacio. It has one of the largest collections of dinosaur footprints in the world.

On a limestone wall you can find 150 tracks belonging to four different species from the Cretaceous time, the last time before the dinosaurs became extinct. The park itself is small but with the admission fee comes a free guided tour where you can have a closer look at the footprints. The life-size replicas of the dinosaurs were also very impressive.

Back at the Mercado Central we found cheap fruit juices and good food. After I got a cheap haircut we strolled around the Plaza 25 de Mayo, explored the Casa de la Libertad – where we got some information about the independency of Bolivia – and enjoyed the view over the city from the Museo de la Reculeta.

But it was time to hop on the bus and continue our trip to La Paz. We had an overnight bus via Potosi to the capital of Bolivia.

Accommodation: Backpacker / El Cruz del Popayan Hostel, Calle Loa, Sucre

Price: BOB $ 50 p. p, triple used as private room, shared bathroom, kitchen, incl. breakfast

Comment: kitchen has only one small pot and a pan so don’t bother cooking, go to the super
                    cheap Mercado Central for food. Breakfast is very limited.



Potosi - the highest city in the world

Written by Nadine Zangerle on . Posted in Bolivia

Due to a holiday everything was closed and it was not easy to find a place to eat. So we wandered around the city with its old, colonial buildings and if the Plaza wouldn’t have been closed for construction, it would have looked nice.

For the next morning we booked the mining tour. Potosi became famous for its wealthy mine full with silver and other minerals. The Spaniards exploited the mine with slaves and plastered even the streets with silver. After nearly 500 years of mining in an altitude of 4700m is not an easy task.

Even today the bad conditions in the highest silver mine causes around 30 deaths from collapsing tunnels and dangerous gases. We wanted to experience the miners’ daily life and with the tour the agencies try to increase awareness of the deadly conditions and also want to create better working conditions.

First we went to the miners market to buy dynamite, coca leaves and beverages for the miners. Afterwards we went into one of the safest tunnels. It was a tough tour and definitely nothing for someone who is claustrophobic. The gases were burning on our lungs and we had to crouch down most of the time

Dusty and dirty we crawled up 16m and our lungs where burning. We are talking about the highest mine and in this confined area with all the dust and heat we were just exhausted

It is not surprising that the miners die early on dust lungs. Average life expectancy is 45 years only and already 14 years old boys follow into the footsteps of theirs fathers. 65 % of the population of Potosi are working in the mines and around 15 000 miners work daily in the high tunnels. 

The mountain has 500 exits and entries, right now 200 tunnels are in use, means the mountain looks like a Suisse Cheese and is expected to be abundant in 10 years’ time. It is one of the most dangerous mines in the world. 

Compared to the mines we have seen in Australia this was a nightmare. Conditions for the miners are bad and the future for those families are miserable. We were happy to see the light at the end of the tunnel and had been in the mines only for 3 hours.

If you want to know a bit more about the miners of Potosi watch the movie “The devils’ miners”.

Since there was not more to see in Potosi we prepared for our next stop – Sucre, the white city. And for the hundredth of times we felt privileged for our opportunities in life!

Accommodation: Koala Den Hostel

Price: BLV $ 50 p. p, 4 bed dorm, ensuite bathroom, kitchen, incl. breakfast

Comment: very good breakfast with fruit and eggs, clean rooms. The hostel organizes tours to
                    the mines