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BOLIVIA - THE ANDES di Axel Kaiser

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Mountainbiking from Bolivia to Chile

We are lucky in our group are only Ana me and a Danish guy travelling with a Overland tour. First we make the obligatory stop at the miners market where we buy some present. In the morning normally you bring them dynamite sticks or Coca leaves, in the afternoon something to drink or to eat. Then we climb up the Cerro with our jeep we go up to 4500 meters, breathing is hard. Than we enter the mine, after 200 meters the miners had created a little museum where is also the 'TIO', means uncle, that's how the call the demon of the mines, every morning they stop here to make some offer for good luck. Ana had already enough and waits outside and we go on, it becomes hotter and sticky with every pace. Sometimes there is some suffocating smell, which is Arsenic. Also the Danish guy stops when we start to climb down into the lower levels. It's really hard going, we have to climb and crawl trough little holes to reach the lowest level, from time to time we hear rumbling noises, which are dynamite blasts in adjacent mines. At the lowest level the temperature is 45° combined with the thin air and the gas smells make life miserable, during the Spanish dominion the slaves stayed down for 3 month at a time!

Climbing up is even more dangerous, my guide shoes me the ladders they use regularly, wooden, rotten ladders bound together by ropes. Also I'm happy when we come out again.

Later we visit 'La Casa Real della Moneda' now this mint is a museum. Here I meet an Italian group which I already met in Mongolia and Tibet, world is getting small.

Next morning we start early, after having repaired my pedal cage (the thing which helds your foot on place on the pedal) this broke like glass in the very cold air, a few kilometers and it brokes again. From here until the Atacama dessert it's all gravelroad ranging from OK to horrible.

The day is very challenging as we have several passes to climb and have such a strong headwind that, sometimes, we have to push also when it's even. We make only 45 Km before we decide to stop and set up the tend, thats our only night in tend as we always found some better place to stay. Camping is not great fun in this dusty and windy environment. The stars are incredible, you can see them on the picture even if I used 1/60 second and flash. Its very cold, around -18° all our water is frozen, but its very bearable because the wind has ceased and the air is very dry.

Next day it's the same story: wind and passes. After another 50 km we decide to take a lift on a bus who carries us along for about 100km to Pulacayo. This was once a big mining town with 22000 people, today the mines are exhausted and only 200 people remain. We sleep in a big hotel with over hundred rooms but are the only guests. We have a good dinner together with the owners family. The children accompany us next morning to visit the town, which, in a useless attempt to attract tourists, have set up an open air museum of old steam locomotives. In the picture you see Ana in the first locomotive brought to South America, a miniature version build especially to go into the mines.

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Dati del viaggio

Mountainbiking from Bolivia to Chile

Periodo: Agosto 2000

Destinazione: Bolivia - The Andes

Partecipanti: Axel Kaiser e Ana Zandomeneghi

Passaporto turistico

Axel Kaiser


Axel ed Ana sono due cari amici, lui tedesco lei brasiliana vivono a Firenze da molti anni insieme alla loro piccola Virginia. Axel è venuto in Italia con la sua famiglia ancora piccolo ed ha conosciuto Francesco al liceo.

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