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I spent the first few days in Copacabana and Isla del Sol on lake Titicaca. Then I went to La Paz and from there to a nice little town of Sorata.  I wanted to trek round a mountain called Illampu, but there are so many robberies that even guides go past that lake at night to avoid danger, so I started looking for something else.  When I saw trek to Mapiri I knew it was made for me.   The book says "it's a hardcore trek, for the dedicated athletic masochist", with crawling through mud, ants that eat tents, snakes and so on. I took a guide for the first time in my life, but there is no map and I don't know the jungle.

So we started in the mountains, almost 5000m for the first 2 days, clouds, slippery stones.  My guide humiliated me by wearing sandals and normal clothing, and then going so fast uphill that I gave up my pride and stopped trying to follow.  2nd day we descended from bare, cold mountains to the cloud forest.  3rd day is the one I will never forget.  It rained all day, and the path, which was going steeply downhill, became a large stream.  Not one item of clothing was left dry on my body, despite all Gore Tex.  The path goes through dense forest, like a tunnel.  And often there were fallen trees, so we had to bend down.  But later it was not enough, we had to crawl for a few meters in water and mud, with big heavy bags on our backs.  He said that many people cry at the end when after all the crawling they have to cross a boggy area with mud up to the knees ha ha.  I was so wet and dirty that I didn't mind.  Day 4 we started by putting wet clothes on and walking steeply down again.  And there are many holes cowered by vegetation, and I fell in one of them.  One leg only, but I hurt my knee really badly, it still hurts after 2 weeks.  But we were 3 days from civilization either way, so I had to try walking.  It hurt, especially when crawling through one tunnel after another.

Day 5 we reached the grassy area full of snakes, fortunately we only saw 2 and not poisonous.  There are huge ants that eat clothes and tents, and others that will cause whole limb to swallow, and many other insects I don't want to see again in my life :)  Day 6 it was so hot I was wet again.  Day 7 we reached a river with so many butterflies that I run out of film.  I have never seen so many different ones in my life!  That day we reached Mapiri, a little town in the jungle by the river.  The ride back was described as "horror", and so it was. It was it the open back of a large jeep, no seats just bare wooden floor.  The driver kept asking me to come to the cabin, but I really wanted to experience this fully :)  This dirt road was so bad it took 10h to do 90km! After this bumpiest ride of my life I had bruises and later in the mountains it was so dusty I was just black on my face!  The last 2 hours he picked up so many people that I had just one leg inside, and was hanging at the back of the car, holding on to the rails.  That was traveling Bolivian way - unforgettable!

Laguna Glacial

After 2 days rest and I went to Laguna Glacial, 5038m, with active glacial falling into it from one side.  I camped 4 nights there, exploring the area, the glacier (scary, cracking) and even swimming in the lake amongst icebergs!  I have photos to prove it :) it was too cold to cause pain, anyway.  One day I was seating at the end of the lake, watching the glacier, huge wall of ice 30m surrounding me from 3 sides, stones falling all the time as the ice melted, and cracking inside.  And suddenly a huge block of ice broke off crashing to the lake.  The noise so overwhelming I couldn't move, tons of ice falling in the water!  I just watched this wave coming closer and closer, I was no more then 20 m away.  Fortunately I was sitting on a big boulder, 3 m above water, it only sprayed me a little.  That day a group arrived to climb a mountain nearby, called Anhouma and over 6400m high.  I went with them to the high camp on the glacier, 5500m, very cold.  The sun set was amazing, clouds cleared and the mountains looked stunning.  I only had 6 pictures left, unfortunately.  I don't know if they are any good, because when walking to Laguna Glaciar I slipped with the camera in my hand, and smashed it on the rocks.  That was the worst day of my travels.  It's working, but the lens is damaged, so I will see later today how the pictures look.  My camera body here costs $400, when I paid $160!  That night on the glacier I didn't sleep at all, it was so cold, my watch said -16C, but water froze even in my thermos (I should probably buy a new one)!  The couple from London went climbing at night with 2 guides and came back after 3 hours without reaching the summit, they found it too cold.  Next morning I walked down the glacier, then stones, then finally a path down to Sorata, 3000m difference in altitude, 7h and 2 days of pain in the legs afterwards.