Coca Leaves And Rain: The Bolivian South Yungas

image

The north-eastern Bolivian region of the South Yungas is a composed of huge hills of almost-jungle-like hot and humid terrain where there are always birds a chirpin’, grasshoppers a hoppin’, and rain a fallin’. Though it’s an interesting and very friendly area full of small to medium sized villages atop various hillsides as far as the eye can see, the heat and humidity made the cycling miserable, because even though this is there “winter,” it’s still hot and sticky. Though the heat made us sweat like we haven’t since the hot summer in Georgia nearly a year ago, it did provide us with a variety of foods we weren’t able to find on the altiplano, notably the short and fat sweet bananas I call “Indian bananas” (as we ate them in India) and fresh passion fruit juice, as well as plantains which they served both raw and fried with every meal. Though some of the climbs were steep, we were able to cover ground reasonably fast as the ground was a rocky but not too bad unpaved surface, and as we were between 1,000m-2,500m most of the time, it was extremely easy to breath.

Continue Reading…

Switchbacks and Soccer Fields: Bolivian South Yungas Loop

image

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.

Continue Reading…