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Travelling through salt deserts and on death roads

date of entry 20/05/1997
mileage 167,652

capital Sucre

area 1.098.581 km²

population 10.059.856

GDP 13.192 M. US-Dollar

Bolivia, to Gunther Holtorf, is a land of contrasts. On the one hand, says Holtorf, this state in the Andes is associated mainly with its highlands, at a height of more than 3,000 metres, while, on the other, it also offers an impressive jungle landscape in the form of its part of the Amazon region, known as the Yungas. In Bolivia, Otto also drove along the notorious "Death Road" between Coroico and La Paz, which has a dubious reputation all over the world as the most dangerous road on Earth. Fortunately, Otto survived it unscathed.
  • Otto was able to drive around with no trouble on the metres-thick salt crust of the Salar de Uyuni. The Holtorfs encountered hardly any other cars during their visit. Tourism is booming here now, and coaches criss-cross the white surface.
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  • La Paz is Bolivia’s seat of government and one of the highest capital cities in the world. The cityscape is dominated by Mount Illimani, with a height of 6,439 metres.
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  • As they always did on their tour, Christine and Gunther Holtorf tried to have as much contact as possible with local people. Here they met a few men playing table football...
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  • ... while elsewhere, people rested on the church steps.
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  • A permanent feature of the street scene in this land in the Andes is the compact, bowler-shaped felt hats worn by the women of the Aymara people.
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  • In addition to the hats, embroidered pleated skirts are part of the local dress...
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  • ... as are colourful baby slings.
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  • Even the youngest go out "well covered".
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  • This herd of lamas that Otto passed had just been shorn. The animals did not look particularly cheerful.
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  • ... unlike this specimen, in all its woolly glory.
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  • In Riberalta in the Amazon region, animals sometimes came calling in the morning, in time for breakfast...
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  • ... whereas, near this clay village in the highlands, Gunther and Christine Holtorf were left completely undisturbed.
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  • The notorious "Death Road" winds its way along the mountainside between La Paz and Coroico.
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  • The name seems no exaggeration. In places, there is a steep drop of several hundred metres next to the road. "If you look down, you can see several vehicles for which this narrow road proved too much," says Gunther Holtorf.
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  • Perils of a completely different kind lay in wait on the mud tracks of the Amazon region. Otto actually managed to extricate himself from this situation by himself.
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  • Lake Titicaca is the second-largest lake in South America. It is shared between Bolivia and Peru.
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  • The Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt pan in the world, is located at a height of around 3,600 metres in the Bolivian highlands, the Altiplano.
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  • Within the Salar de Uyuni, like an oasis, lies the island of Incahuasi, which is renowned for its cacti.
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  • Video: Bolivia – where mountains and primeval forest meet