So after the most dangerous road we took a calm day in La Paz. We went shopping in the morning (yes, I have bought a christmas gift for everyone in my family now) and then we had some other tucumanas to eat (so good that Ad also is vegetarian, haha). We also went to different agencies to try to arrange Ad’s uyuni trip and then my vertical route, but apparently you need to be 2 people to do that tour, and there was no one interested for the day after… :/
After that we went to the San Francisco church where the free walking tours start. It’s a great idea, you just need 1 boliviano for the chicken bus to the viewpoint over the city, and then you tip the guide what you want. :) It’s mostly young bolivians who want to show their city, so it’s more like a cultural experience.
Even if I had been in La Paz for 4 days, I still hadn’t visited many of the places we went to. We visited the main attractions but also some local places, like different markets. We visited the Sagarnaga street, The witches market, Plaza murillo, Calle Jaen, San Pedro jail, a few viewpoints over the city and a couple of different markets.. probably a few more places that I don’t remember the name of. It was great. They have free walking tours every day at 11am and 2pm, takes about 3 hours and the meeting point outside San Francisco church, the guide will wear a blue shirt where it says “free walking tour”.
On the walking tour I also met some nice people, one of them Tristan from Switzerland, which got interested in doing the vertical tour with me tomorrow, greeeeeeeaaaat!!! At night he, me and two german girls went to eat dinner at Swissfondue, the first time I eat swissfondue (in Bolivia), and it was really really nice (and expensive) :)
Next day we got picked up at our accommodation for the vertical route. It was me, Tristan, and two guides, Didac originally from Barcelona in Spain but who has been living in Bolivia for 10 years now and Freddy who is from a community here close to the vertical route and who has opened up this attraction. This Vertical Tour is the only “Via ferrata” (the only protected climbing route) in Bolivia, and also the highest one in the world : )
We had like one hour trip up to La Cumbre again and we passed by all the groups that were going to do the worlds most dangerous road : ) We started on that road but then took another way to the Yungas Valleys.
On our way they told me so much interesting stuff about Bolivia, about the upcoming narkotica-traffic problem, about the coca plantations, the pollution, about politics, the good and bad things todays government has done, about the communities and the non-profit organizations etc… so interesting talk, really appreciated.. Since this is the first country which I don’t do couchsurfing in, I haven’t really heard that much about the true Bolivia.
When we arrived in the Yungas Valleys (so beautiful!) we started with rappelling down like 10-15 meters or something, wow, that’s so scary at first. It’s a controlled descent from a stiff rock with help of a rope.. but you have to lean out from the rock, and that is really scaring in the beginning because you are so used to be standing on your feet with the weight on them, but here you have the weight on your waist instead and the feet are just a support.. and then walking down by letting the rope go of a little bit more rope.. haha.
Then we came down to the Tibetan bridge, which basically is three ropes between to mountains, one you stand on and two higher above which you hold on to with your hands. That was really funny! So cool to see the forest below your feet while walking on a thin line. :) But it’s so much easier when you hold on to the ropes, you don’t have that bad balance then as you think you would have, haha.
When we arrived to the other side, we had to climb up maybe around 30 meters until we reached the base for the zipline to the other side. It’s a cable mounted on between to mountains, and you hang yourself with a freely moving pulley on the cable and then your own gravity makes you go from the top to the bottom of the inclined cable… so much fun! :) When I saw the cable the first time I actually got that lovely adrenaline rush in my body and it was the first time I felt a little bit scared by thinking that I’ll be hanging there soon .. but then once in the air – it was soooo much fun!! :) Then we did rappel down to our starting point.
Since we only were two on this route, we had time to do it again! So after lunch we did it a second time and it was much easier since we had a little bit more practice, we just started doing rappel without even thinking about . Didac pointed out that he was proud of us, what he loves about his work is to see the progress.
After doing everything again, they asked us if we wanted to do and extra rappel about 30 meters down, from where we usually climb up. It’s not in the route but since we had time, why not? :) They had done it a couple of times before, and you end up down below in the middle of the jungle/forest. It was really steep, but it was much easier to do this rappel since it was an even rock and not an uneven muddy mountain under. The hardest part with rappel is to actually have the guts to do it just in the beginning, the leaning out from the normal standing point.
Such a great day, I had a blast, and I felt so safe and comfortable with Freddy and Didac, they were both so much fun. This is really something I recommend – and it’s perfectly safe, they have had engineers there studying the technical viability and supervised the installations. The cables, harnesses, pulleys and helmets have all been certified. The cables and ropes are really strong, you can carry like 700 kilos on one rope (and you have two on you all the time!), and the zipline can carry about 16 tons on the cable.. so there’s nothing to be afraid of.. it’s just an adrenaline kick, some exercise and lot’s of fun!
I went through the agency Altitude which I had booked the world’s most dangerous road with before, so I got a little bit of a discount for 530 bs, but they work with other agencies too. Look at their webpage, http://verticalroutebolivia.com/