Week 72 - Ruta Del Che & Sucre
The route from Samaipata was beautiful and the dirt road was good fun, the kind of road I really enjoyed in that it was a bit challenging in a few places but not too much! The road wound its way through the hills and we didn’t meet any traffic at all. Finally we got to our first destination, La Pajcha waterfall in the heart of the forest. We found an unofficial campsite with some fire pits and bins, but no-one around. We stopped the bikes and went to look at the waterfall which was really beautiful and quite tall, coming over the top of the rocks into a huge pool. I had all good intentions of going for a swim, but those intentions quickly dissolved once I felt the temperature of the water. I could barely face putting my feet in it let alone my whole body, although Kelvin did have a wash in it!
We set up camp and the only other person we saw until the next day was a local on a Suzuki DR350 who had come to visit the waterfall on his way home from his working week in the nearest town. He was chatty and then after a visit to the falls he disappeared again. Later that evening, being super lazy we ended up eating the cheese sticks and dulce de leche for dinner! We were even joined by a wild camp dog all evening, and he only left in the early hours of the morning. I’m a little wary of dogs at times, especially if they’re a bit shy because they do have rabies in Bolivia, however he was really friendly once he realised we weren’t nasty people and I think he just liked being near humans, as most dogs do. He seemed more fussed about hanging with us than he did about food which was nuts.
We slept well as it was so tranquil. We got up late and packed slowly as we had no intention of riding that far. The next place we wanted to visit was a small village called La Higuera, the place where Che Guevara was captured and executed.
Again, we were blessed with some truly stunning scenery and we had a lot of chances to take photos, so we took the maximum amount of time to get to La Higuera! When we finally rolled into the village we found the old Telegraph house where we were able to camp, plus it was close to the little Che Guevara museum. The lady at the museum told us to come and see it before it was dark because they had no lights, so after we set up camp and a quick beer to share, we headed straight there as we were starting to lose light. It was a really interesting little place and only about £1 to go in, so well worth it. There was a lot about the history of Che Guevara, and all in English and Spanish, so that was great. The statue of Che was opposite and really prominent. We then headed back to the campsite/hostel and the lovely French owner offered us dinner for a reasonable price so we accepted. We ended up with a huge meal of a very tasty lasagna each as well as bread and a fresh salad, which I enjoyed a lot. We went to bed feeling very full, but very happy!
The next day we packed up again and headed off, this time in the direction of Villa Serrano. The road continued to be beautiful dirt, again surrounded by rolling hills and great scenery. We couldn’t believe we’d had great weather, great scenery and dirt roads for this long, we were so lucky! We’d got that in some areas of Peru but for some reason I didn’t expect it in Bolivia, and it was a different landscape to Peru, but we were really enjoying it. Before reaching Villa Serrano we crossed a huge bridge over the Rio Grande. We could see locals fishing down below and the river was a stunning blue colour. We stopped for a little while to take some photos and also again a good few Km up the road with a more elevated view of the river, together with some trees with cool looking bark and cactuses with some pretty hefty spines that I would not relish falling onto!
On getting into the small town we found a hostel and were informed that we could park in the courtyard, however it meant navigating up a couple of steps and through a doorway only just wide enough for the bike, which was also on a slope…no room for error then! I was a bit worried about hitting the step and not getting up it, instead landing on the market stall, so in order to reduce the chance of that happening I opened the throttle and blasted through the doorway, me flying through the doorway at great speed made Kelvin jump a bit! Maybe it wasn’t the greatest idea but I made it and I didn’t drop the bike on someone’s stall. Win! The people in the hostel were lovely, and we were warmly welcomed. They showed us to our room which was about £8.50 for the night and came complete with hot shower and one of the most comfy beds we’d had in a long time. Yippee! We would have stayed two nights however I’d stupidly forgotten to get cash out and we were told there was no cash machines until Sucre, plus no where took card, so we had to save the few quid we had left for fuel. Bummer! It was a cute little town and the plaza was filled with people just sitting around, chewing the fat…mainly the older residents I have to say. We went for a walk and despite being a small place with no ATM, no fuel station etc, it did have a motorbike shops with lots of accessories and dirt bike stuff! Crazy!
After a good sleep in the lovely bed, we left the hostel through the door, again without mishap and made our way towards Sucre. There was a little more bull dust than I would have liked on the last section of dirt road, but it was still beautiful and I didn’t end up on the floor thankfully. After a little while we met the tarmac road, although don’t be fooled….the tarmac looks lovely and smooth, and it invites you to get some speed going, but often you come around a corner and are faced with a herd of goats, some strolling cows, donkeys, pigs or whatever else you can think of! We proceeded with caution because on several occasions just on this stretch of road we came across several of these things, often right after a blind bend!
On reaching Sucre we found the hostel I’d marked called Wasi Masi. Luckily they had space for us and we rode our bikes into the courtyard, where there was a GS 800 sitting. We unpacked and then Paul, a guy from BC, Canada, saw us and came to say hi. He was also a physio and riding the America’s on his GS, currently in Sucre having some Spanish lessons as it’s known as a good place to learn due to their slower, clearer Spanish. We chatted for quite a while and after enjoyed a beer on the rooftop with a view of the city.
We only planned to stay a couple of days this time around in Sucre, although we’d come back in a few weeks to extend our Visa’s again. We’d extended from the initial 30 days in La Paz, and now were extending for our final 30 days here in Sucre (90 days total) although we wanted the opportunity to extend over 90 days. We went to immigration and he said we could do it, but not until the week before our stamp was due to expire. We got our last 30 days ‘tourist’ stamp, which I say in inverted commas because we didn’t realise until 4 weeks later on our return that the extension was a working visa, and the only way to go about staying longer in Bolivia…more on that in a few blogs time!
Our Sucre stay went by quickly and we’d been in contact with Kirsi again. She was hanging back in Potosi waiting for us because we were talking about Uyuni and the Lagunas route, and decided we’d all go together. She was keen on the Salar (Uyuni salt flats); however not so keen on doing the Lagunas route alone. We were happy to do it all however having a 4x4 to carry the additional fuel, food and water for the lagunas route would be amazing, plus we really enjoyed hanging out with Kirsi and Jack, so it would be a win-win all around! We got everything sorted in Sucre that we had to and before we knew it we were back on the road and heading towards the silver mining town of Potosi!