Some corner of a foreign field...

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Mark R
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Some corner of a foreign field...

Post by Mark R » Wed Mar 23, 2005 7:53 pm

Two hours of sleep and I'm a little more 'of this world'.

Due to work and things, I've barely thought about it in the past fortnight until now I'm packing, but in 24 hours I'm flying to La Paz in Bolivia with some of the best guys I've ever had the privilege to boat with.

We hope to stick our heads out a bit on this one. We'll check out some of runs that two previous groups checked out (some Americans, some Kiwis) and then hopefully hunt down some 'new' runs from a few we've identified on the maps.

All of the guys have worked hard to put this trip together. No idea how it'll turn out but we're all fired up for something a bit more 'unknown' than on previous guidebook-laden excursions.

We sought and achieved BCU Expeditions Committee approval for this trip (I'm on the Committee so could take no part in discussing the bid), so our thanks to Dave Manby et al for the support. If anyone is interested, this was our bid...
http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/Bolivia.doc

Have a good Easter all...
Mark Rainsley
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ol
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Post by ol » Wed Mar 23, 2005 9:03 pm

Take care guys, have a great time.
and remember, you are ambassadors for our country..............

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Post by David Fairweather » Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:35 am

Good luck guys, sounds like you'll be having an amazing trip. I look forward to spending some quality time standing in Smiths reading the trip report!

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Bolivia

Post by Chris W » Thu Mar 24, 2005 2:23 pm

To be perfectly honest, we don't REALLY have a leader at all, it's just that expeditions are supposed to. BCU committee member Mark did the decent thing and didn't take part- after writing most of the bid.

BUT, if pushed, say if a Bolivian mugger says to me 'take me to your leader'.......I'll point at Mark.

Time to go.

Chris W.

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Post by kevinf » Thu Mar 24, 2005 2:34 pm

Mark wrote - "but in 24 hours I'm flying to La Paz in Bolivia with some of the best guys I've ever had the privilege to boat with."

Aw shucks, Mark. That speech brought a tiny little tear to my eye!

Kevin

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Post by Steve B » Thu Mar 24, 2005 3:02 pm

Have a good trip all of you - be safe.
Steve Balcombe

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Post by Guest » Thu Mar 24, 2005 8:10 pm

all checked in no hassle and ready go....

kevin

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Post by Mark R » Sat Mar 26, 2005 8:05 pm

Bolivia is surreal! 24 hours here and we´ve...

- Crossed the Andes at over 15000 feet
- Seen llamas (lots of)
- Negotiated the 'World's Most Dangerous Road' by night in fog
- Slid off said road in landrover and been towed back on by lorry
- Seen a monkey riding on the back of a dog
- Paddled our warmup river, v good as it happens
- Got surnburned
-
All the women wear bowler hats, freaky.
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Post by Mark R » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:06 am

Whoa! Last few days have been exhausting....the paddling was veering towards the ´heroboating´ side of things. Now we're back in La Paz en route to some rivers in the north.

The quality of paddling is phenomenal, clear blue steep creeks everywhere. The catch is that the geography of Bolivia is extreme....ridiculously steep valleys make accessing the water rather tricky. Lots of hiking to rivers, and even roadside rivers are hard work....we spent two hours climbing from the takeout to the road (up a cliff, basically) two days ago. We had to be rescued by a Bolivian family after dark!

Must sleep....
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Bolivia

Post by Chris W » Thu Mar 31, 2005 4:53 am

The cuts, bruises and fatigue tell me that I must be on an ´expedition´. Bolivia´s an amazing country- I can see why it´s been called the ´Tibet of South America`.

We would appear to have ourselves another very interesting creek boating destination. Technical boulder garden grade 4-5 rivers set in stunning ´deep in the jungle´ gorges, within sight of snow capped Andean peaks, and within 3-10 hours of La Paz. There are enough known rivers and good leads here to keep us boating every day for 2 weeks- if only we could stay longer. This has the making of an excellent adventurous destination for strong well equipped groups looking to step up a gear. The logistics aren´t easy (poor roads and super steep valleys) but porters are readily available (which we haven´t used so far because this masochistic bunch loves hiking with boats).

5 days solid days boating so far in the Coroico area north east of La Paz; quick bit of R&R in La Paz right now; and then it´s off early tomorrow northwards to the Rio Camata. www.adventuretrippin.com is worth a look if you´re interested, but the list of rivers featured is by no means comprehensive- there´s more.

Chris W.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 04, 2005 2:28 pm

We´re back in La Paz after a few days up north. We look terrible! Everyone has lost weight and several folk are suffering from over-regular movements. But we had a great time, the quality of Bolivian rivers keeps impressing us.

We paddled the amazing Rio Camata over a couple of days, it was a little high and really steep for the volume, it put the wind up all of us....everybody had their own personal ´moment´to enjoy with a stopper somewhere!

We then checked out some unrun tribs and the only one we could find which wasn´t utter gnarly death was the Rio Idontrecallthename which was incredible, 300 feet per mile of cleanly runnable non-stop drops.

We´re off to the unlikely named Rio Zongo next, and then we´ll be flying home in a few days.

Bolivia has blown us all away...some of the very best paddling we´ve ever done, all rather hard (80% of our rivers have been Grade 5), fantastic people and places, but it all comes at a price...many rivers are really tough to access and climb out of. 'Roadside' in Bolivia means at the bottom of a 500 foot gorge.

If you´re into tough exploratory-type boating, get yerself to Bolivia, it's fantastic. Perhaps like Nepal was 15-20 years ago.

Buenos Dias,
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Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 04, 2005 3:28 pm

The carnage list, as best I recall it...

Swims...

Rio Choro claimed Andy Levick (he also gashed his hand on the climb in, hence he hasn´t been boating) and Kevin Francis.

Rio Unduavi claimed Andy McMahon (big time).

Rio Camata claimed Yours Truly in a pourover. Oh the shame.

The interesting Andean cuisine has also claimed Andy Mc´s and Kevin´s guts, and Marcus is looking pretty pasty right now.

Gear casualty list...Andy Mc lost a paddle, Kevin´s throwline snapped and his GPS vanished.

Vehicles...our Landrover has had seven punctures and had its thermostat removed, the Nissan Patrol has had its muffler sawn off.

Insect bites and cuts number in the billions.

Morale still high...but send more Wine Gums.


PS Most useful kit so far...Machetes, GPS´s, MRE´s and walkie-talkies.
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Bolivia

Post by Chris W » Mon Apr 04, 2005 3:45 pm

The rivers so far...

1- Huarinalla (?sp)- sweet grade 4 warm up
2- Choro- excellent grade 4+/5 after jungle slog
3- Unduavi- excellent grade 4+/5 followed by epic cliff face carry out
4- Unduavi- excellent grade 3+ to 5+ with wobbly landslide portage
5- River x- pleasant grade 4/4+ after carry in
6- (travel day- horror of horrors- no boating)
7- Camata- ´balls to the wall´ big grade 4+ hole dodge, pushing 5
8- Camata- more hole dodging, portage, then stunning grade 3 gorge
9- River y- outstanding road side continuous 4+ to 5- quite a find

10- Upper Zongo? (today)
11- Zongo
12- Zongo
13- River z

So, you get the idea. The usual hectic tour. The pain and suffering is being rewarding with some great 4/5. The troops are battle worn but morale is good.

Chris W.

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Post by Mark R » Mon Apr 04, 2005 3:47 pm

Hmm. What Knees calls ´4/5´I call '5'.
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Post by Mark R » Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:14 am

Comedy moment of the day...

We round the corner on the Rio Zongo to be confronted by a huge grade 4 rapid, overshadowed by a monstrous cascade of interlinked waterfalls spraying directly onto the rapid. The sun is in the right place so that, gazing upwards, you see an indescribable kaleidoscope of colours and light refracted hundreds of feet above your head by the falling water. Truly one of the most amazing things you could ever see.

Whilst gaping at this natural wonder, Si and Marcus drop into the biggest stopper on the entire river.
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Post by Mark R » Wed Apr 06, 2005 12:52 pm

Day 13...I have the squits. All hope is lost.

God Save the Queen.
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Airmiles NLI

Ye cure

Post by Airmiles NLI » Wed Apr 06, 2005 3:21 pm

Mark,

Get yourself some Ciprofloxacin ("Cipro") - usually prescribed for urinary infections (GUT?) but just as good for guts.

Although the "official" course is 2x a day for a week, usually one or two pils will stop it in its tracks. Beware that if you do take the full course, it has a side-effect of anxiety and vertigo.....

The pharmacies in Bolivia seemed slightly less "relaxed" than Asia, but you might still be able to get some without prescription. Or failing that you should be able to find a doc - we managed to get a dentist same-day (not English-speaking, tho)

Miles

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Post by lozbrown » Wed Apr 06, 2005 5:13 pm

sounds amazing mark!

out of intrest how are you getting to the internet, local internet cafe?

people sometime's seem to be able to connect there laptops from vans in far flung places

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Re: Ye cure

Post by ol » Wed Apr 06, 2005 6:15 pm

Airmiles NLI wrote:Mark,

Beware that if you do take the full course, it has a side-effect of anxiety and vertigo.....
Not the ideal combination i would have thought for being half way around the world and climbing up large steep hills.....

Sounds amazing. look forward to a more in depth report.

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Re: Ye cure

Post by Heather Rainsley » Wed Apr 06, 2005 8:52 pm

Arimiles said

Get yourself some Ciprofloxacin ("Cipro") -


I was prescribed this when i had Giardia and told that I should definately not drink alcohol while I was taking it, if i liked my liver...
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side FX

Post by Airmiles » Wed Apr 06, 2005 10:05 pm

Heather,

I think you're confusing this with Tinidazole? This is the normal treatment for Giardia, which is protozoal as opposed to bacterial.

Tinidazole also has the side-effects of anxiety etc. with, as you say, the absolute need to avoid alcohol. Believe me, taking the Tinidazole + Ciprofloxacin together (diagnosis: we don't know, but we don't want to be sued) is truly, truly horrible.

Anyway, I trust this trip means you're choosing the summer destination?

Poke - you're not kidding! Which is why I mentioned it ;->

(In case you were wondering - degree in Pathology, first year Pharmacology. Now an IT manager....which funds travel hence 1st-hand experience!!)

Cheers

Miles

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Post by Chas C » Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:44 am

When in Zambia both myself and paddling partner got the trot's after eating a dodgy pizza.

We were then on a four day down the canyon paddle and I decided to take my Ciprofloxacin after a dodgy first day.

It made me very very ill, to the point that Sven (Zambezi.com) was considering flying me out of the gorge. Symptoms were very similar to Malaria and lasted about 8 hours or so.

I did take the pill with cans of beer - which probably never helped too much - seeing the advice above.

My paddling partner took nothing and was ok within 36 hours - took me over 64 hours to recover.

Chas

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Post by Mark R » Thu Apr 07, 2005 12:45 pm

Well, my self-prescribed treatment has been 24 hours of starvation (this trip has been superb for weightloss) and some amoxycillin. If it´s no good for the stomach, it can't do my 9000 cuts and insect bites any harm.

Internet has been really hard to come by in Bolivia, certainly in the places and valleys we've been frequenting. Here in La Paz it's ten a penny BUT the downside is I can't breathe due to the altitude.

One day left, we're going to check out a mystery ditch outside town.
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Re: side FX

Post by Heather Rainsley » Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:04 pm

Airmiles wrote:Heather,

I think you're confusing this with Tinidazole? This is the normal treatment for Giardia, which is protozoal as opposed to bacterial.
Oops
Airmiles wrote:(In case you were wondering - degree in Pathology, first year Pharmacology. Now an IT manager....which funds travel hence 1st-hand experience!!)
In case you were wondering - degree in absent mindedness and advanced hypochondria : )
Heather Rainsley

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Post by Mark R » Thu Apr 07, 2005 8:46 pm

guidebook wrote:we're going to check out a mystery ditch outside town.
Mystery ditch was a duffer....all the water taken away for irrigation. No worries, it was in a stunning desert canyon location so we did a bit of Japanese hiking and then headed back into town to buy alpaca products for other halves.
Mark Rainsley
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Post by Scuba Steve » Thu Apr 07, 2005 10:42 pm

Being the clever chap I am I also turned this into a new topic!

Glad to hear that you are all alive and 'I can't say well', but alive. How did McDoom get on with his machette? Will it pass as a 'rescue knife' on the way back home?

Chris and Mark, you will be pleased to hear that you have made it onto the top 20 list of best British boaters through TWP. Unfortunately Frank McKowski was beating you though Chris. McDoom, Kev F and Marcus did not make it onto the list because they were not handsome enough.

Chris and McDoom, you will be pleased to hear that Hurley is on 2 and Swindon has seen some heavy rain recently so it will probably be running on Sunday for your return!! Was there today and was very lonely ( ahhh!!).

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TWP

Post by Chris W » Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:33 pm

Hello Steve! Greetings from La Paz. Yes, the TWP best boater chart has caused the team much amusement. Somehow I think the ´best boater´ tag may have been ever so slightly tongue in cheek because the list contains a rag bag mixture of good boaters, self publicists and IT geeks....!

Chris W.

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Bolivia

Post by Chris W » Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:58 pm

Steak and beers tonight. Trip over.

After the Zongo, yesterday, we split up for the day. Marcus and Andy M ran the Choro again, only this time they hired porters and made it to the correct put in! Gary rustled up porters within minutes at a cost of 40 Bolivianos or $5 per boat. It was that easy.

Mark, Simon and I slogged our way down the beautiful but dog low Suapi and then the equally beautiful Rio Coroico raft run. A grade 3+ wind down although in spate the Suapi gorge would be very feisty indeed.

All in all, within the space of only two weeks we´ve paddled 9 different rivers, including 5 of the 6 paddled by the adventure trippin kiwis, 2 from leads from our head guide and driver Gary and 2 possible first descents.

We´ve been to Latin America a few times but Bolivia is something else altogether. As an adventurous boating destination it´s got it all and Easter is a good time to go, at the tail end of the wet season. A strong well equiped group maybe looking to step up from Costa Rica or Ecuador could have an action packed 2 or 3 weeks or more here. All they´d need to do is..

1. Book flights with Varig, no charges for kayaks so far
2. Book transport with Outback Bolivia
3. Print out our trip river notes, when they´ve been written.
4. Buy 1 in 250,000 maps in advance
5. Sort good overnight kit

Chris W.

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Post by sub5rider » Fri Apr 08, 2005 11:28 am

guidebook wrote:[....we did a bit of Japanese hiking.....
Go on, explain.....

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Post by Poke » Fri Apr 08, 2005 11:38 am

sub5rider wrote:
guidebook wrote:[....we did a bit of Japanese hiking.....
Go on, explain.....
Tromping around tourist routes taking posed photos in yellow macs???

Very jealous of this little expedition.. I look forward to the photos!!
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