Parque Nacional Madidi – the Bolivian jungle

The jungle in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia
The jungle in Rurrenabaque, Bolivia

The Bolivian jungle includes Parque Nacional Madidi. It is a stunning place. The amazing Rio Madidi features the greatest biodiversity of the earth’s protected regions. Parts of the Parque Nacional Madidi are protected and it has a huge range of wildlife habitats, from rainforests to Andean glaciers at 6000 m.

There are more than 1000 bird species in the parque – which is 10% of the world’s known species. In the non-protected parts of the parque indigenous people continue to live with their traditional pratices: hunting, fishing and utilizing other forest ressources. Up until now the Quechua, Araona and Tacana communities are coexisting happily with the park.

When doing a jungle tour you usually stay for one or two nights in a fairly primitive camp in the jungle itself. During the days the guide will take the group for long walks in the jungle and explain about different kinds of animals and trees that live in the forest. I found it very interesting and enjoyed it a lot.

The tours can bee booked from Rurrenabaque.

Video: Salar de Uyuni tour, Bolivia

This video is a ten minute edit of some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen – starting with the Salar de Uyuni (the world’s largest and highest salt flats) in Southern Bolivia. Salar de Uyuni is roughly 25 times the size of the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States. All the video scenes were shot on a 3 day/two night tour from Uyuni and at altitudes of between 3,650 metres and 4,500 metres.


View my Salar de Uyuni photo slideshow here

Thanks to Joshua Knight for providing the song ‘Further’. Please visit his MySpace site at

Listen to my Podcast from Bolivia here

Photos of the Salar de Uyuni tour in Bolivia

I’ve decided to give the photos for my three day Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) tour in Bolivia their own post. A selection is below, and the rest are available through my Flickr photography account. These Bolivian landscapes were the most breathtaking I have ever seen. You can view a slideshow of these photos here.

Cacti, Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia


Listen to my Podcast from Bolivia here
Video: Salar de Uyuni tour, Bolivia

La Paz tourist attraction: Pachamama fight

Pachamama fighting in La Paz, Bolivia
Pachamama fighting in La Paz, Bolivia

While residing in La Paz I came across a very funny and peculiar tourist attraction: Pachamama fighting.

Pachamama fighting is literally pachamamas fighting…usually not with each other . Most of the time one woman fight (hitting, boxing, kicking, biting) with one man, but sometimes they team up – two women against two men.

Most of the time the fights are “pretended” fights – meaning they pretend to hit and be hurt, but when we were there – one guy kept hitting a woman in the head with a wooden box and she started bleeding…honestly, it was nasty.
However, the funniest part of the fights is actually the reaction of the audience and being part of the audience. The audience scream and throw things after the fighters…like orange peel, tomatoes, bread…very funny 🙂

The fights are held in a specially designated hall outside of La Paz (about 20 minutes drive from the centre). There is a square “boxing” stage in the middle, 3 meters of free space and then seats for the audience. The audience consists of both locals (mostly) and tourists.

You can buy an organised tour from La Paz which includes bus, entrance ticket, popcorn and a small pachamama doll. I would definitely recommend it – just remember the tomatoes 🙂

Mitad del Mundo (the Equator), Ecuador

Any visit to Quito would not be complete without a quick trip to Mitad del Mundo – the Equator line. Mitad del Mundo, for those of you that don’t know, translates as ‘Half the world’ in Spanish.

Located 23 kilometers North of Quito, getting there is as simple as jumping in a cab and paying $25 for a round trip with a one hour wait, whilst you jump out for photos. We however spent the best part of five hours fannying around on public transport and paid about $1 each.

Mitad del Mundo (the Equator), Ecuador

There’s not a whole lot to do there, except take photos like the one above of me – “one testicle in each hemisphere”. There are also a couple of tacky exhibitions, a planetarium and a big monument – shown behind me in the photo. What’s more, in one of the museums you reputedly get a prize if you balance an egg on a nail, and you can be thrilled by the sight of water flowing straight down a plug hole instead of it spinning clockwise or anti-clockwise (depending on whether you are in the Northern or Southern Hemisphere). Something, incidentally, that Wikipedia informed me was a load of rubbish when I checked afterwards. The Coriolis effect is far too weak for such displays.

Video: Climbing Pacaya volcano in Guatemala

This video shows you the amazing active volcano Pacaya in Guatemala and us climbing it.

UPDATE: Thousands Flee their homes as Pacaya Volcano erupts (BBC News May 2010).

Climbing Pacaya volcano was quite an exhilarating experience. We left Antigua at 06.00 in the morning and arrived at the base of the volcano at 07.30 and started the summit trail. The initial climbing was through a forest trail. Suddenly the trail ended and the land in front of us was barren and grey looking like pictures from the moon. You could still see the beautiful landscape around us, but rivers of grey had run into it. At this point we started climbing through dunes of grey sand dust and the wind blowing was strong and cold.

The last part of the climb, to the point where hot burning lava is flowing, was the hardest part. The trail was very steep and you had to climb in either lava sand which kept disappearing under your feet (so that you basically took one step forward and two back) or you had to balance on the dry rivers of hot lava rock. Now for those of you who have not seen a lava stone, let me tell you "it is very very sharp and putting your hand down would surely cut you. But the color and formation is amazing it looks like silver and is at times shaped like waves.

While climbing the old lava waves you could feel the heat from underneath getting increasingly hot and finally we reached the point where the river of hot, burning lava came flowing out it was truly magical.
Good advice: I suppose it is needless to say that you need warm clothes and solid hiking boots to climb the volcano. It would be impossible to climb the sharp rocks in thin shoes or stand the cold without a proper jacket and pants.

Directions: You can buy a ticket to the volcano from Antigua for about 50 quetzals. This covers a return trip to the volcano. At the base of the volcano you pay 40 quetzals for entering the parquet. Some travelers report having a guide with them with a shot gun for protecting (against robbery). We had a good guide but without a gun. The tours leave Antigua at either 06.00 in the morning or 14.00 in the afternoon. I would recommend you taking the early morning trip because climbing down from the volcano in pitch dark (the last trip) is dangerous.

Good luck.