Day 32: Ciudad De Itas – My First Altitude Experience

Bolivia Motorcycle Travel South America

The last night as well as the others before I could not properly sleep and woke up several times. When I initially thought I would be stressed for the offroad ride, I knew this time that something else was to blame for: The altitude! Between Santa Cruz and Cochabamba I already bridged a height difference of 2000 m and another 800 m to Torotoro. 

Another evidence of the change in altitude and consequently air pressure was the fact that the liquid of my deodorant completely run out of its container (of course in my bag). Furthermore, while I was opening the hand sensitiser container, a splash of liquid was flying 2 meters through the air.

I finally arrived in the region of the famous altitude sickness. The day before I still went to the pharmacy to organise some altitude sickness pills which I took before starting the tour of the day.

Together with the Northman and a French couple we made our way to the Ciudad de Itas, which is home of spectacular sceneries, geologic rock formation and cave paintings dating back to 8000 B.C.

Together with our tour guide, the driver and the four of us we drove in a minivan high up in the mountains. When checking my Garmin watch I astonishingly realised that we were all of a sudden at 3’711 m. Together with the wind it got surprisingly pretty cold as well and I was glad to have brought a second layer with me.

Before we reached the actual rock formations we had to climb a couple of meters in altitude and shockingly I was already out of breath after a couple of meters. I could not believe how difficult it was to physically “exercise” and felt already my legs striking. I asked myself how it would be in the salt flats of Uyuni, in LaPaz or MachuPichu where I was planning to do some hikes was well.

At least “I knew” by now what it meant to be affected by altitude and could potentially prepare myself for the more extreme conditions the next couple of weeks, meaning drinking enough of water (3-4 litres a day), chewing coca leaves, no alcohol (NOOOOOOOO), no food after 6 o’clock in the evening and taking my altitude medicine regularly.

The landscape was the result of thousand years of erosion by mainly water and left spectacular rock formations behind. Our guide was highly knowledgable and explained everything very much in detail. I was happy that the French were talking perfectly Spanish and were translating everything for me. How great it is to speak the local language, I told myself and were admiring the French for their skills.

After checking out the caves and the paintings, a lunch break and several picture sessions we made our way back again to the van and drove back into town. Arriving there I made a short 2 hour power nap, haha. I felt good again and enjoyed the rest of the day in the coffee bar just next to my hostel where I found time to catch up on my daily journal. What I needed was just a functional internet connection which was unfortunately not available. A luxury problem…

Having had dinner with a big group of nice people, I was already looking forward to the next day, where I planned to visit the valley to find the famous dinosaur footprints.