ORURO to LA PAZ  (Inc  CHALALAN ECO LODGE)

La Paz – no guide book can prepare you.  Bolivia’s capital is set in a deep valley and sprawls out around you on every side.  How they keep building up the steep slopes is a real mystery.  Overcrowded mini buses choke the streets, hawkers sell everything you could possibly want, and the mix of modern and traditional cultures is quite intoxicating.  Our 600m descent into town was incredible, we’re just not so sure the ride out will be as easy.

 
The hustle and bustle of La Paz couldn’t contrast more with our trip to the Amazon.  A special treat for Jess’s 25th birthday, we chose to stay at Chalalan – a community run eco lodge set deep in the heart of the Madidi National Park.  Like rock stars, we boarded a small plane for the harrowing flight across the Andes and down into the jungle… umm, the brochure didn’t mention anything about a grass runway!

 
Tropical Rurranabaque felt like another world, not just a 40min flight away from La Paz.  Oxygen filled our lungs and our clothes were dripping with sweat before we even reached the small arrivals shed.  There we met Thorsten & Sonia, a lovely German couple, who would be our only company that week.  After a brief introduction from the Chalalan team, we were shown our hotel and the rest of the evening was ours to enjoy.  Tomorrow we would travel five hours up river to the lodge.  Yep, it was going to be just us and the monkeys …

 
The lodge was stunning, set on a beautiful lake and made entirely from traditional materials.  By accident, or luck, we were upgraded to a secluded private cabin.  Not wanting to make a big deal of it, we felt it best, to just lay back in the hammock and forget this small oversight.

 
Andres, our local guide, occupied us day and night with his uncanny ability to spot mammals, birds and plants in the forest.  His eyes and ears really made the jungle come alive, and he was pretty handy with a machete too, when we needed it to cut our way through the vines.

 
The mix of western and traditional food was devine and never seemed to end.  It was hard to choose a favourite, but we think devouring the fish Sonia had caught during our days fishing was definitely up there.  We were sure glad to be doing a lot of walking, otherwise our poor bikes would never have forgiven us.

 
It wasn’t all hard work though – between boating, hiking and eating we did manage to squeeze in a swim or two in the picture perfect lake!  Yes, if you ever wanted a place to escape, then without a doubt Chalalan would be it.  We were very sad to leave…

 
Back in La Paz, we now prepare for our final stage, the ride to Cuzco and the famous Machu Pichu ruins.

 
Thanks again for the emails, comments and well wishes.

Jules & Jess

Amazing La Paz

Amazing La Paz

Jess the Rockstar!

Jess the Rockstar!

By boat to the lodge

By boat to the lodge

We´ve arrived

We´ve arrived

You sure this is our room?

You sure this is our room?

Its a jungle out there

Its a jungle out there

We hiked...

We hiked...

Boated...

Boated...

Crossed rivers...

Crossed rivers...

Fished...

Fished...

Some with more success than others...

Some with more success than others...

Swam...

Swam...

... and relaxed!

... and relaxed!

The Chalalan team made it great

The Chalalan team made it extra special

We were sad to leave

We were sad to leave