4058 metres above sea level = altitude sickness

Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 04, 2012

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Residencia Latino

Flag of Bolivia  ,
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

La Paz is a real surprise. We flew in past some amazing looking lakes and of course more mountains. I posted in Facebook that "La Paz is an amazing city set in a bowl like valley 4058 metres above sea level. Houses and buildings go all the way up the side of the bowl and the city centre is in the middle of the bowl. At night the city sparklesall the way up to the skyline, very spectacular. Only thing being this high is the altitude sickness, I thought I would get over it quickly but no, spent the first two days in bed!!!"
It is a thriving city up in the mountains and there is a mix of new and old buildings.
Alright, I am done being sick, the infections are going and i really need to stop watching cable TV.  I'm still puffing up the hills , waking up with stiff hands, wrists and shoulders ... But I am not complaining I love La Paz. Cheap anti -biotics, food and knock-offs, they manufacture a lot of their own goods so things are cheap.

We looked around for a 2 day trip to do from La Paz and decided go to Coroico which is an hour and a half drive away. It sits on the shoulder of the Cerro Uchumachi at an elevation of 1500 to 1750 m and described as a Bolivian Eden and a laid back retreat for middle class paceņos (citizens of La Paz). I was still not feeling 100 per cent so Andrew and I booked the kids to do the bike ride to Coroico, expecting a gentle bicycle tour of this little tourist spot in the sub tropics. 

So Thursday we were picked up at 7am along with a bunch of Argentinians, an Israeli couple and another couple from Chile. Our mini-bus and van loaded with bikes and unsuspecting tourists then proceeded up the hills of La Paz, then through the mountain range to the snow, then the vehicles stopped. Did I mention it was snowing with limited visibility? We were then informed that the gravity assisted bike ride was about to begin. By this stage I was feeling a lot better and wishing we had booked to go on the bikes too, but it was too late. My kids were about to embark down the mountains of Bolivia in an Alpine region in the snow and fog, I was JEALOUS! So all I could do was watch from the mini bus. The kids and the others suited up and got the safety instructions and they took off in the mist. It was very exciting to watch until it dawned on me that this is quite dangerous and my baby is only 13 years old!! Hannah nearly took a spill trying to avoid a stupid wandering dog and then Campbell trying to tuck the back of his shirt into his pants also nearly came off, what was I thinking? I was so busting to have a go though. They cautiously made their way down through the winding road and through a tunnel to a municipal check point, where they got off the bikes with frozen fingers and faces and the bikes were packed back onto the vehicles. 

A few kms down the road we turned off onto a dirt road and one of the guides made a comment in Spanish which sent the South Americans into laughter and questions and us wondering what the heck? So Andrew asks him what did he say? It was something along the lines of ... "We are now on the 'Road of Death' and about 200 people die on this road each year."  oh is that all? So after about 10 kms on the "Road of Death" we came to the next take off point. We were approaching the sub tropical part of the ride, but it was still high enough to be cold. The kids were ecstatic and couldn't believe they were doing this "ride of death", and we were the coolest parents ever! What were we thinking? 

The rest of the ride down was rough, bumpy and once again windy .They rode through waterfalls and past crosses of those who had lost their lives on this road. By the next pit-stop we had definitely arrived in the sub tropics and some of the riders had begun shedding their gear and applied insect repellent and sunscreen while others left their gear on. I was so proud of the kids and glad they were safe. Hannah did have a minor drama with having to try and stop with a flat but she did manage to stop with her feet once she slowed down enough. While waiting for help on the drop side of the narrow road, standing on a little grassy patch with her back to the edge she looked down over the side only to realise she was a step away from plunging to her death! Needless to say the whole group made it to the bottom of the "Road of Death" without the death but only a few spills. Hannah, Campbell and Samuel were thrilled they had rode the 55km and now have photos and t-shirts to prove they did it. We were then taken to a hotel with a pool, shower and lunch that was included in the package. The group, after the refreshment stop were heading back to La Paz and we were dropped off at a little highway village called Yolosita, which is at the foot of the 10 k ride up the hill to Coroico to catch a taxi.
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Shannon on

That looks like so much fun....what an amazing experience! Lotsa love to you all

Lavinia on

You guys are the greatest parents ever to have walked this earth. Looked like mega fun! I bet I could've beaten all 3 of you suckers down...but then probably would've ended up with a cross with my name on it. Errr. Viva Bolivia!

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