Switchbacks and Soccer Fields: Bolivian South Yungas Loop

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This lush green route has become a highlight because the cycling is relatively easy, the villages are picturesque and friendly as there is virtually no tourism besides cyclists, and the scenery is so different than what we have previously experienced in Bolivia. The road, which is carved out of the mountainside, looks a whole lot like the Indian/Nepali roads throughout the foothills of the Himalayas, and the rushing rivers and towering green hillsides are a welcome change after so much sandy nothingness in the altiplano. After an easy morning ride we ended up spending the day and night in a typical quaint village before heading out the next morning for ten kilometers of steep switchbacks down to the river, and then a 1,000m evaluation climb up and over our second pass. We then continued down and up again (and then down and up again… flat isn’t a word which exists out here) until we found the only flat ground around, a soccer field which belonged to a cluster of a dozen or so houses which we hadn’t even been able to see from the road.

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You can see our road to the left, carved out of the hillside.

You can see our road to the left, carved out of the hillside.

This patchwork farming was everywhere, which really reminded us of northern India.

This patchwork farming was everywhere, which really reminded us of northern India.

One of the towns we stayed in.

One of the towns we stayed in.

A typically dressed lady walking with her son.

A typically dressed lady walking with her son.

These guys were not happy to see us on their road! Most aggressive Turkey we have ever met.

These guys were not happy to see us on their road! Most aggressive Turkey we have ever met.

As it was getting dark we knew that we weren’t going to make it up and over yet another pass and to a town with accommodation, so we jumped at the opportunity to check out a flat soccer field when we saw it down the hill from the road. Though there were at least a dozen of young adults and kids playing a game when we arrived, they welcomed us and kept on playing as if we didn’t exist, a very welcome surprise as we were tired of the constant attention we use to draw in other countries. When their game was done we spoke with a few of them, who were all extremely welcoming and polite, who told us that yes of course we could spend the night on their field. As we cooked a few kids talked with us and watched us happily, and besides that, not a single person came close to our tent or bothered us throughout the whole night. I feel a whole lot safer and more comfortable “urban camping” here in Bolivia than I ever would in the States, which is a testimony to how friendly and welcoming the people are here.

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This is where we slept the night before, the soccer field belonged to these few houses hidden in the hillside.

This is where we slept the night before, the soccer field belonged to these few houses hidden in the hillside.

The owner of a “hotel” we spent a night in was making bread in this typical large outdoor mud oven. She lit a huge fire in order to heat the whole thing up, before taking out all of the burning wood which meant that she then cooked her bread with the leftover heat. She was able to cook dozens of breads and empanadas at the same time on large baking sheets which she would put in and take out with a large wooden flat-ended stick.

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Pikes on Bikes technical details for this route: This blog entry took place along the pink route (from Quime to Irupana) which goes from Konani around to La Paz.

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For a photo of the day and other updates follow me on facebook here, and for some awkwardly cropped photos from our journey, follow us on Instagram @awanderingphoto!

3 thoughts on “Switchbacks and Soccer Fields: Bolivian South Yungas Loop

  1. Pingback: Favorite Cycling Routes: South Yungas (Bolivia) | The Wandering Nomads

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