Sucre to Santa Cruz via Samaipata - big trip - diary - bolivia - may 2003


One of many tolls

Tandem twins with Tomas El Terrible

Tuesday 6 - Thursday 8 May

Tuesday was high time to be on the road again after a pleasant stay in Sucre. On the way out of town we passed a mine where fossilized dinosaur footprints have been uncovered. We'd heard they are not too wicked so gave it a miss - the big concrete diplodocus outside not doing much to persuade us otherwise, weather erosion and the activity of the miners will eventually wipe them out though.

Typical countryside

The roads frequently get blocked by landslides

Dusty local style transport

The road is paved initially, although in some places the loose dirt hillsides have descended to block the main way and interesting side routes have been cut. After a stop for lunch the road became standard Bolivian dust track, which fills the interior of the landy and the occupants lungs. Trucks which are the main other users of the road and carry all types of cargo, human included, throw up huge plumes of dust making overtaking hazardous. Along the way we met a swiss couple travelling by tandem towing a 90kg trailer, accompanied by mad american mountainbiker Tomas - check out his travel diary at

Collecting firewood

Dusty descent... yet another river valley


Bolivian farm worked by tractor

End of the road for one traveller

As dusk drew in we pulled off the road into a dry river bed to camp for the night. B put up the other tent on the soft sand to escape T's snoring and made the most of a peaceful evening to catch up with the website a bit. In the morning a local doris came by collecting firewood and was well chuffed to have her picture taken. After adjusting the rear drum brakes which have been feeling well dodgy recently, we got a reasonably early start. This was ruined slightly by heading 15 minutes back up the road the wrong way to get a picture of the awesome view which we missed in the poor light of the previous evening. Even so we arrived at the town of Samaipata by early afternoon, famous for its pre-Inca ceremonial site called El Fuerte.

Alien landing strip... actually pre-Inca rock carvings

Uncarved rock

The site is carved out of a huge rock, possibly created about 1500BC by the amazonians - so says the guide book. Apparently some dillweed scientist suggested that two grooves dug into the rock which look like tyre tracks (see middle top of the rock, left picture) were made by an alien spacecraft landing. Good fortune how aliens built their ships the same size as our roads eh?

After a quick tour round the site we went back to the landy and had another go at adjusting the brakes, which we seem to have made worse by this mornings efforts. Three backpackers were hopeful of a lift back down the hill as they were a bit knackered after the 4 hour walk up. The two lads decided to brave the roof whilst an austrailian doris joined us in the cab. 2nd low gear got us down the hill safely, with the brakes just about good enough to stop us before we coasted out across the main road at the bottom. We parted company with our brief guests who were going to Sucre, as we took a right turn down from the altiplano towards the jungle town of Santa Cruz.

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