We parked on the Peru side of the border and got stamped out of the country at the immigration office . We then gave our temporary import permit in to the Aduana, who asked to see our proof of ownership and passports, before giving us a section of the temporary import permit back. Then we drove to the Bolivian side of the border, where we parked and entered the Bolivian migration office. After filling in our tourist entry paperwork we were given 30 days entry, which we knew we could extend later if necessary. Finally, we went to the Bolivian Aduana, who was real character. He spoke some English and firstly directed us to the copy shop next door, where we had to fill out a form on line for our temporary import permit. After that, we sat with him whilst he completed our temporary import permit for Ruby. He had a copy of the document that we already had, in relation to foreigners not needing vehicle insurance for 30 days, and he told us he encouraged people to take a photo of it and show it " to the cops" if they were trying to extract money from people. Without a cop in sight, we then drove from the border to Copacabana, next to Lake Titicaca.
We stayed in Copacabana for 2 nights. Copacabana is situated on the Southern shore of Lake Titicaca, nestled between 2 hills. We went on a boat trip to Isla De Sol. a 70km square island in Lake Titicaca, it was very picturesque and contained some Inca ruins.
After Copacabana, we headed for the capital-La Paz. We spent a few days here and really enjoyed it. We sorted out our vehicle insurance for the rest of the South American leg of our trip, went on an excellent city tour and, our highlight, mountain biked down Death Road. Death Road was once named the world`s most dangerous road. We went with an excellent company called extreme downhill, and the bikes were in very good condition with great brakes!! We were kitted out with knee and elbow protectors, full helmets and jackets and trousers. They set us off on tarmac first-and Gav and I were the slowest. But wait until we got on Death Road itself! The road is very narrow in parts, with huge drop offs and very bumpy. We started slowly-Jen in front and Gav behind. And then, Jen took off like a rocket, passing many people along the way and we turned from the slowest into some of the fastest in our group! There were only 2 small mishaps-one when a car came around the corner in the opposite direction and Jen forgot which side of the road she should have been riding on and almost careered into him, the second was when 2 vultures suddenly shot across our path and sent Jen wobbling all over the very narrow road! We cycled downhill about 44km in total, through some beautiful scenery.
The day before we were due to leave La Paz, we heard about local strikes which meant that all the roads into and out of La Paz were blocked. This is common in Bolivia, so we decided to head out anyway and see where we got to. We went on a back road route and all was going well-until we hit the road blocks. There were huge piles of debris in the road and the local women were also sitting in the middle of the road-and we know not to mess with them as they are tough cookies! We got out of Ruby and had a chat with the police who were really friendly, and they eventually showed us a small off road route that might not be blocked. We headed this way, off road, dusty and bumpy for 30 miles or so and-success! We reached our destination-Oruro, our stopping point for the night.
The next morning we drove for the first time onto the salt flats. It was brilliant it felt like we were the only people there, flying along on the pure white salt and blue skies. It was quite surreal. We stopped to take some perspective pictures-where the object on the background looks tiny and we also stopped at a salt hotel and the Dakar sign.
Near here were loads of flags from all around the world and Gav was so inspired by the landscape, that he decided to leave his Yorkshire flag here, tied to the flag post alongside the others! We also met a lovely group of Chinese people, who worked in the construction industry, who were taking a break from their business trip by seeing the sights. They were more interested in Ruby than the sights of the Salar, and had hundreds of photos taken with her and us! I was hoiking them up onto the bonnet of the landy for their photos! We swapped email addresses and said our goodbyes. For now!
We then went to the small town of Uyuni, where we will meet some other overlanders we have made friends with along the way, at the weekend. The plan is to spend a few nights driving and camping on the Salar, and then to do the off road lagunas route into Northern Chile. Tonight is another wild camp at the train cemetery! This is a site where a lot of old rusty trains have been put to pasture. It was really good-and we took loads of pictures clambering around over the trains. We had just started to eat our tea, early evening, when our lovely Chinese friends turned up at the end of their day tour! We had little chance of eating as they made a beeline for the landy again, and took many more photos. This time-they wanted photos sitting in the driver`s seat pretending they were driving! Once they had left, we ate our tea which had long gone cold-but with big smiles on our faces as the Chinese people were so lovely and friendly and we have invites to visit them in China!
Net step-a few days on the Salar and the Lagunas route into Chile!