We decided to try and organize a guided hike in the mountains around Sucre for one of the days while we were there. We found a tour agency that was offering the hike we wanted however for just the two of us it was going to be quite expensive. We luckily ran into Thibaut and Lucie in the street and they were also keen for the trip. After much negotiation on Lucie and Tim’s part we had a price we liked and it was just going to be us and a guide in a 4×4.
We met the guide outside our hostel the next day and he walked us to a little 15 seater bus with already 3 others on it and we were told we would be doing it all together. Okay we thought, no problem they all seem nice and it is only 3 more, so off we went!
We climbed about 1000 metres on a mostly paved road and stopped at a little Quechuan village where we were shown the church. Interesting fact about the church – The Quechuan people before the Spanish invaded worshipped Pachamama (Mother Earth) who appeared in enchanted rocks/crystals/trees. For example if someone was walking in the mountains and heard crying but there was no one there and then discovered a rock it was said that it was Pachamama. Or every time people walked passed a rock and were rendered speechless it was Pachamama. Anyway the Spanish turned up, who were obviously Catholic and decided that they didn’t like people worshipping rocks so they destroyed most of them. But for this particular stone in this village they carved it to look like the Virgin Mary. We got to see the Pachamama Virgin Mary which was pretty interesting.
After the church we then hiked down a paved trail that was called the Inca trail. The views were wonderful and the origin of this trail was a trade route created over 1000 years ago for the local tribes to bring their goods strapped to llamas to barter with the other tribes. The Incas then showed up and were the last people to use the trail (hence the name) before the Spanish showed up. The amount of effort that went into paving this path was extraordinary. Apparently they had to make it mostly flat and without steps as the llamas which were used were not very good climbers.
So we get to the bottom and our bus is waiting for us and off we go. Our next stop was a crater where we would stop and have lunch and then walk for another 3 hours to a waterfall and then return home in the bus. So it rained the night before and at this stage we are definitely not on a paved road. We get about 5 mins down the road and it starts to get a little serious as the bus driver is starting to loose control of the bus in certain muddy spots and we were fine now but the road is starting to slowly wind and climb around a mountain. We come to one river crossing and Tim and I look at each other and think that there is no way this bus is getting through that. The bus driver stops, gets out and has a look and gets back in the bus and floors it! We get about 10 metres and then the back slides out and gets bogged.
We all get out and inspect and the back right tire is so far bogged that his back bumper is bent and partially submerged in mud. After a few attempts of pushing on our behalf and a few stupid ideas from the driver and guide it is decided that the driver will walk to the next village for help from the locals. Our guide informs us that we can walk to the crater and the bus driver will call the agency for someone to pick us up in 4×4’s to continue the tour. We have lunch and are just about to leave when the bus driver shows up with a local man, his wife, two children and dog. After a short discussion we find out that the bus driver has not called the agency so we would have been stranded out there with no reception. At this stage Tim has had enough and promptly tells the tour guide (quite rightly so) that he doesn’t trust him and he wasn’t happy that we could have ended up stranded in the middle of nowhere. Of course everyone else agrees so back we turn to see how the excavation of the bus is going.
After about an hour of digging from the locals and pushing from our behalf, the bus driver finally drives the bus out. It was really quite amusing and something we will never forget. So back in the bus we go thinking that we are heading back to the city. We are informed by the guide that there is another way to the crater and he assures us that is a safe road and the bus will get there no problem………
It was a disaster. The road is unpaved, one lane and winding around a mountain with no safety barrier (obviously it is Bolivia, what do we expect) and due to the rain parts of it are washed out. We get about half way up and after a particularly hairy part, with our parents voices in our heads telling us to be careful and stay safe, we decide that we have had enough. We tell the bus driver to pull over and asked the guide how much further we had to go and whether we were going to be returning on this road. He said we have another 20 mins of this and yes we will be returning down this road. Tim informs the tour guide (again rightly so and you can all imagine the facial expression and tone of voice 😂) that this is ridiculous and he is putting us in danger and that we are walking back down the mountain and he can pick us up on the way back. Of course the tour guide thinks we are crazy and that is is not dangerous but okay if that is what you want to do then fine. Thibaut and Lucie promptly get off as well and off we go! The view was amazing and we had a great walk down, even passing a man and women walking their dogs and donkeys. They must have wondered what the f@$k we were doing out there by ourselves!
So to end our Bolivian adventure day, the bus did pick us back up and we were informed by the French couple still in the bus that we made the right decision as it got worse. Also Tim and Lucie went back to the tour agency and managed to get half our money back which was also good! A day we will never forget! S
The help! As you can see the bus driver was useless!
After being picked back up we had to make it up this mountain in the bus to get back home. It was in much better condition and two lanes so it was okay