On our way to Potosi we met Bjorn, from Germany. He has been traveling for two years now. See his very interesting website here.
Yungas Road was exciting but not as challenging as expected (by me, hehe!), so I began looking for thrills elsewhere. I found soon a mountain road that began descending sharply through the forest. After about 5km the road began to look as if no vehicle has been using it during the past 10 years. Curious to see where it will lead us, we continued.
At one point we met an old woman who was living in a nearby chalet. She advised us the road was leading to a dead end but we couldn´t really understand where and why the road will end.
Thinking the woman wasn´t fully aware of Palomina´s off roading capabilities, I dismissed her warnings and decided to proceed. But after another hour or so through the bushes, we found the answer: the road was no longer in regular use because a rock and mud slide has destroyed a portion of it.
So we had to return, but climbing back with a 200kg bike equipped with 50-50 tires and passenger and luggage is not as easy as it might be on a 150kg cross, so it took us the rest of the day to get back to the asphalt. On some section we had to remove the luggage and/or push in order to make it, and we almost dropped the bike off a cliff. But what would life be without the unexpected?
Once in Coroico, we found the entrance to the old road and we began ascending. At 1500m altitude and in the middle of the rainforest it is pretty hot and humid, but after only 50km you will find yourself at 3600m surrounded by a spectacular alpine landscape. Unfortunately, the road is now not as spectacular as it used to be until 2003, when many trucks were using this one lane road as the main route for transporting goods to and from La Paz. Today this is mainly a tourist attraction, especially for the ones interested in mountain biking.
For me, the most important attraction on Bolivia was the Old Yungas Road. That one starts from the Amazonian rainforest (in the town of Coroico), so the first thing we had to do was get there. For that we used the North Yungas Road, a modern 2 lane road that descends from La Paz. The total length is around 60km and the views are spectacular. This road carries today most of the traffic from Northern Bolivia to the capital city, the same traffic that used to be carried by the old road.
The coca tea is served everywhere in Peru and Bolivia and sometimes in Ecuador and Chile. Also, one can buy the leaves the same way you buy green tea. They claim it´s good for those who experience sickeness due to high altitudes. After all, it´s a stimulant so it does pretty much the same job as the coffee. And it tastes very good with lemon!