Gallery: Volunteering with Albrifron Monkeys at Inti Wara Yassi!

In the back of her mind, Lynette is thinking 'you stink, you stink, you stink'.

In the back of her mind, Lynette is thinking 'you stink, you stink, you stink'.19-Sep-2009 14:47, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 5.6, 38.0mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 400

On the 5th September 2009 Lynette and I finally made it to Inti Wara Yassi headquarters in Villa Tunari, Bolivia for a spot of volunteering with monkeys. We’d meant to spend two months here originally, but having had too much fun everywhere else it was stripped down to the bare minimum two weeks only. On the way we’d heard many stories of the place, both of its hard work and how many had been hospitalised through bites from various animals. Would we survive unscathed? Would we be able to leave? Would we even be able to find the place?

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Gallery: The Pain of Potosi and its Sobering Silver Mine!

If you're seeing things... in your neighbourhood... who ya gonna call?

If you're seeing things… in your neighbourhood… who ya gonna call?04-Sep-2009 14:26, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 10.0, 28.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400

Potosi, or as we fondly recall the city that likes to punch you in the head, is the highest city of its size in the world at 4,070m. It is also dominated by Cerro Rico, the location of a working silver mine. It had been highly recommended by other travellers and a necessarily brief stop on the way north from Uyuni. It was also hopefully going to be a good opportunity to satisfy some pyromaniac tendencies by blowing up TNT. We’d even heard that our intended hostel had the most awesome book exchange known to Bolivia, which would be welcome after Lynette had to Ruth Rendell for a bus trip or two. But did we manage to explode any dynamite? Would we gain access to the fabled book exchange? And why did Potosi seem to dislike us so much?

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Gallery: The geological marvel that is the Bolivian Salt Flats (Salar de Uyuni)!

It was so big, Steve couldn't use his mouth and squeeze at the same time.

It was so big, Steve couldn't use his mouth and squeeze at the same time.31-Aug-2009 15:25, FUJIFILM FinePix F40fd , 6.4, 8.0mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 100

The Salar de Uyuni are the largest salt flats in the world and one of the more famous tourist spots of Bolivia, although we weren’t completely sure why. We knew there would be lots of salt involved, and from the odd photo we were quite convinced the sights we’d see would be on the main fairly flat. Our ignorance and the fact we’d arranged to do the tour with our Latvian friends Martins and Dagmara made the anticipated trip all the more potentially exciting. But if all we were going to see was a lot of flat, white salt then I wasn’t sure we were going to do for the other seventy one hours of the three day trip. So was it as potentially boring as we’d feared? What’s this about volcanoes and multi-coloured lakes? Just what exactly is borax?

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Emergency News: Illegal Road is destroying Inti Wara Yassi Animal Refuge!

The digger destruction to build the illegal road.

The digger destruction to build the illegal road.

It’s Friday afternoon and I’m heading back to the ‘office’ after lunch; a wooden shack covered in chicken wire. As I approach, so does the unexpected and unwelcome sound of heavy machinery. When I’m less than ten metres from work, I see men with machetes hacking away indiscriminately at vegetation; these people not gardeners. Helplessly I watch a huge clanking and smoking digger snapping the enormous trees that normally surround my day like twigs, and a 15m recently decapitated log comes crashing down into my path. Article updated!

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Gallery: Exploring the Bolivian Amazon in Rurrenebaque!

Whistling down Rio Yacuma enjoying the awesome kind of trek that is sitting down all day and just enjoying the view.

Whistling down Rio Yacuma enjoying the awesome kind of trek that is sitting down all day and just enjoying the view.27-Aug-2009 20:30, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 13.0, 28.0mm, 0.0025 sec, ISO 1600

South America is famous for many things, one of which is the largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon. It touches many countries, and after a change of plans near the start of our trip we’d patiently waited until one of the last countries we were to visit to venture into something that really classed as “Jungle”. Which is odd, because technically it was Pampas we were exploring which is entirely different. Anyway, our departure point was Rurrenabaque, North Bolivia, and our destination was Rio Yacuma, a hotbed of wildlife that we were to leisurely observe for the next few days, and it truly was an excellent trip. Would we find any Anaconda? Did we really see Pink Dolphins? And who won the UK versus Taiwan Piranha fishing contest?

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Itinerary: South America

South America ThumbWe’re even closer to heading off – more goodbyes have been said at Kelly & Ben’s amazing wedding this weekend and we’ve both now had our last day at work. Current weather in Rio as I write is a balmy 28°c! We’re now hopefully pretty close to actually knowing our route so all the details are below. Its still, and always will be, in flux, but that is the nature and fun of backpacking!

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