Bike travel, commuting and more


Bolivia VIII: La Paz to Copata

Undulating road

Undulating road out of La Paz

Stressful big city exit back to the altiplano

After our short stay in La Paz/El Alto, it was time to get moving. Our next target was Oruro, a big mining city 230 km away.

Susanne had complained that her front shifter did not quite make it to the biggest ring. It was correctly set up, but the housing was slightly cracked and did not support the cable tension. Luckily there was a road side bike workshop near our hotel so we could ask them to replace it. Unsurprisingly, he had no spares, but he just compensated by increasing even more the cable tension and now it works. Good enough for us.

Roadside bike workshop in El Alto
Bike experts checking for a good job

As usual, we took our time to get moving. First we enjoyed the hotel breakfast, then we took our time packing. Afterwards we had to buy some food for the way as we would be crossing only small villages where usually you can only find kiosks with a very limited selection, ok as long as you only want to eat biscuits, chips and coca cola. By the time we finally got moving, it was already lunch time, so we found a restaurant about 1 km from the hotel and we stopped again to eat.

Cochabamba planchita
Eating a planchita, a very filling dish typical from Cochabamba

It was at least 14:00 when we finally got moving. The exit from El Alto is relatively stressful. The road is an urban highway with 2-3 lanes each way, chocked full with colectivos picking and dropping people on the way.

Colectivos leaving El Alto
Colectivos leaving El Alto

By now we were experienced on the technique of riding among them and we could anticipate pretty well when one was going to stop in front of us, so apart from the continued required attention it was actually enjoyable, like a video game..

Traffic light in El Alto
Formula 1 start at a traffic light

The road out of La Paz, like in most big cities, is quite ugly. Just suburbs and grey towns with roadside markets and car workshops or tire repair shops for at least the first 20 km.

Accident outside La Paz
A truck had dropped its load on the other lane

After a while we finally left the big traffic behind, and we could relax a bit more. The road to Oruro was now a highway for the whole journey with a generous hardshoulder, so it was a relatively relaxed ride, even if the trucks were very loud and polluting and the surface was usually full of rubbish, broken glass, wire from exploded tires or all of the above.

Leaving La Paz
Leaving the traffic, and the big peaks, behind
Rubbish on the road
Some villages use the road as their dump

My plan was stopping in Copata, but we were doing good progress despite our late start, and Susanne wanted to keep riding.

Quiet riding out of La Paz
Finally quiet riding

In the end it was getting dark so we stopped in an unfinished building next to a toll station they are building on the highway.

Altiplano from our camping spot
The views from our camping spot
Hotel room in Copata
Our room for the night

It was actually a good spot as we were protected from the wind by side walls and from the frost with a roof, so excluding the noise of the traffic on the highway we had a good night.

Thermal baths nearby?
No idea what this sign means. Thermal baths?

1 Comment

  1. Katherine

    Me encanto el plato “la planchita” aunque deberia ser la planchota!!! TamaƱo familiar. Y ya veo su tecnica de viaje. Duermen donde les agarre la noche. Que aventura!!! Pero eso si … a veces tiene mejores views que en la misma ciudad. Saludos viajeros!!!

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