This morning we all (we are still travelling with Christine and Mark) made a push for “Bolivia’s Machu Picchu” called Incallajta . It was mostly paved road once we turned off the Torotoro road and passed through the city of Cliza and the going was pretty good. We drove quite high in altitude and saw snowmen on the side of the highway!
Tigger began chugging a bit as we approached the F7 so we thought some of that tienda gas we’d bought in Torotoro might be have been bad – maybe watered down…? We saw on iOverlander that there was a real gas station about 2.5 km / 1.1 mi off the road that sold to foreigners at the locals price and we detoured there, put in some gas cleaning additive and filled the tank; that did it! We sure love it when fixes are that easy.
We followed along the F7 to what our GPS and maps.me told us was the turn to Incallajta but the road quickly deteriorated and we drove back after just over one kilometre to the F7 and found the actual Inca Road and that road was pretty much all cobbled but in good shape for the most part. The locals charge a one Boliviano “toll” on this road – so cheap!
Christine and Mark were waiting for us there as they’d left well before us and after chatting we checked into the tourist office of the park and bought our tickets.
We wandered the trails and grounds including a small canyon and waterfall for about 90 minutes in the sunshine. At first we were not impressed; as Mark calls many of these sites: “a pile of rocks”; but as we proceeded it got better. Now it’s no Machu Picchu but with some money, love and restoration, it could be quite something.
Upon returning to the truck, we parked about 500m back down the road in the actual site’s parking lot and spent the night there.
Wednesday, our destination was the small city of Samaipata, 280 km / 173 mi southeast of here along the national road F7 – we hoped for the best as mentioned above and unfortunately more than half of the way was under construction; we had a ½ hour delay where they were pulling dirt down off the cliff
Then about 3 km / 2 mi later an hour’s delay for more work:
Here Mark and Christine caught up with us and after that we hit a small town that was having a motocross tournament and it crossed the highway so we had to wait another more than an hour for that event to end.
After that we encountered roads of dirt, asphalt, concrete and major fog as we passed by the eastern edge of a cloud forest. It was very fortunate that there was so little traffic, especially come from the other direction.
So we did about 180 km / 110 mi in eight hours – more than half of which was probably just waiting to move!
We got to the small town of Mataral and decided to call it a day as there was still almost 80km to go, it was nearly 4 and who knew what condition the road ahead was in. We parked on the square a block off the highway, the locals said it was safe, had happy hour in their rig before dinner.
Thursday, they left before us, we stopped for gas (got locals price again!) and some produce at the market and met them at Finca La Vispera, in Samaipata which was on iOverlander and in our Rough Guide to spend a couple of days.
Here there was a very clean bathroom and kitchen block with hot showers, electricity and water and slow internet (which is better than none but what they charged was a little dear compared to other places – in really only about $17 a night but still higher than we’re used to paying).
That afternoon after doing things like getting water, dumping etc. Fran joined Christine and Mark on a walk into town while Doug stayed behind and caught up on internet stuff.
The town here is quite cute and sleepy; apparently much busier on weekends and we wandered a bit, hit the market and a couple of tiendas (no super market here) then on the way back took a different route that led us past a vineyard called 1750 which is the altitude in metres (/ 5740′) it was called. We decided to pop in to see if they gave tours and tasting and they did for about $5.
The tour was all in Spanish which we mostly understood. The vineyard is over 400 years old and began with clippings of vines from France. They make seven kinds of wine and afterwards we each got to try too; they were not good sadly.
Christine had seen a walking trail near our campsite back from here so after a bit of wandering through some bushes, we climbed through a barbed wire fence and found the trail back.
We had happy hour sitting in the hostel’s outdoor café (that closes at three) and did some route planning. When we finish Bolivia we are headed into northern Chile but C&M have decided to head into Paraguay as they need to fly home in mid October and have a few things they want to do and see before that. You can leave your vehicle in Uruguay for one to a year so many overlanders use this country to do just that. Hopefully we can meet up again in January. They plan to finish the PanAm by end of February, fly back to Peru to do that volunteer gig they did early this year, sell their truck & camper and go home.
As mentioned earlier we are at a much lower altitude here and the daytime temps are in the mid 20’sC/ 70’s F but it still drops down significantly at night. We awoke Friday to an overcast sky which burned off before eight and became quite windy.
The clouds burned off and we walked into the town to find a cab to take us to the main site here: El Fuerte – a pre Inca ruin. He drove us to the site and said he’d be waiting for us in two hours to return to town (10 km / 6 mi).
Now instead of the usual “piles of rocks and rock walls” this site is about carving into a huge rock face on a hill (see scale model below).
A tribe of people called Mojocoyas established a town here in 400-800 AD and began carving into the rock, then it was occupied by the Chané from 800-1300AD followed by the various warrior tribes like the Guaranis in the early 1400’s before the Incas arrived in the mid fifteenth century. When the Spanish arrived in the early sixteenth century it became a trading centre.
So there are restored walls from various periods around the site.
Doug and Fran took the taxi back and C&M decided to walk back for exercise. When we got in the taxi we asked the drive about where we could buy a new jerry can (one had sprung a small leak) and he knew where but it was now lunchtime and most shops close from 12 to 2/2:30 so we were out of luck. Upon returning to La Vispera we went up to the café, ordered lunch and then Fran spent the afternoon there online while Doug did some chores around Tigger. When Christine and Mark returned we had happy hour up there.
We decided to leave on Saturday while C&M stayed here one more night to do a hike into the nearby national park known for its giant ferns (we saw them in Costa Rica). They did not want to join us in Vallegrande to do the Ché Guerva tour so we agreed to meet at a popular overlander site in Sucre by Tuesday.