Ojo Del Inca – Eye Of The Inca

Visiting Sajama, (remember here), turned out to be the perfect first stop after leaving La Paz. The road east was open and safe. We left there all fired up, but I was still a little apprehensive about heading south.

We had heard that the road blocks and protest were over, but this is Bolivia… you just never know!

In order to get south, we knew we’d have to drive through the two protest strongholds of Bolivia, Oruro and Potosi. We had already been rejected once trying to get through at Oruro, (remember here).

There used to be another road that went directly to Sucre, but apparently the protesters blew up a key bridge with dynamite. After that, the road became impassable, forcing all traffic through the protest centers of Oruro and Potosi.

Meanwhile, in May, Bolivian authorities intercepted over 137 sticks of dynamite and 375 kilos of an explosive substance called ANFO. The government then made a new law stating that it was illegal for a person to be in possession of dynamite while at a protest.

I don’t know… that sounds like a good piece of legislation to me.

Anyway, as we headed south this time, the roads were clear. There were remnants of the blockades, but everything was passable.

On our way south we wanted to stop at the small village of Curahuara de Carangas. Our friend Eric had told us of a small church that had, get this, art work from the 16th century! With the help of some locals, we found the small town, and the church.

Ok, allow me to tell you something that you probably don’t know about Bolivia. I certainly didn’t. This country has one of the oldest and richest colonial histories of any country in the Americas! The reason is because the Spanish found gold and silver in Potosi. These riches of Bolivia were the single reason the Spanish Crown existed over the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Bolivia basically bankrolled the Spanish for centuries.

Because of this, there is an ENORMOUS amount of cultural history hiding in the nooks of this country, like this church. It has been deemed the Sistine Chapel of South America, but barely anybody even knows about it!

As a matter of fact, it was completely abandoned until 2006, when this Padre found it and began restoring it. When we arrived he was raking the yard in a pair of over-alls and chewing a huge wad of coca leaves. After a brief introduction he agreed to give us a private tour.

Inside this tiny church there are paintings that date back to the 1500s. Did you catch that? This isn’t the type of thing you see outside of Europe. The fact that this tiny little church sits in the middle of nowhere on the Altiplano, full of this history and art, is just incredible!

Below, Stevie and Sol enjoy a full canvas from 1570. This thing was just hanging out on the wall. No protective covering. No nothing! If it weren’t for the altitude and dry climate, this would have never survived.

The walls of the church were covered with murals like the one below, which shows a bunch of Native Americans burning in a lake of fire. The Padre told us that the Spanish used these pictures to help convert the natives.

A truly sad affair, first the European conquered and enslaved the natives, forcing them to work to death digging gold and silver in the mines. Then, those who survived were told to convert to the twisted white man’s religion or else they would burn in a lake of fire forever.

I better not get started on religion… not a good thing…

And this one… this one actually gave me a nightmare!

Anyway, it was a truly great experience to visit that little church in the middle of nowhere. We packed back into the van and continued south.

Our next destination was Ojo Del Inca – The Eye Of The Inca.

The Ojo Del Inca is the eye of a volcano. It is an almost perfect circle, a cone, where the edges are about 5 feet deep and the center over 150. The water is hot, around 35°c. It is said that the water has special powers, and Inca kings came all the way from Cusco, Peru just to bathe here.

Well, this certainly was not to be missed. Our GPS got us close, and then with the help of some locals we found Ojo Del Inca.

Well, if it’s good enough for an Inca King, then it’s good enough for my little Soleil! Since Sol was born, we haven’t really had a lot of swim time. Turns out this little chunk-a-lunk floats… mostly.

She had kinda a strange reaction to the experience though. She didn’t really get excited, or scared, or… anything. She was just very calm. Not what I expected, but cool nonetheless.

This is another 5 star Bolivian destination that should not be missed if you’re cruising through. Send us a message if you need the GPS coordinates.

Our next destination takes the cake. We had heard about this place through a blog follower from Colorado. Our new friend Sergio is originally from Bolivia and made us promise not to miss it. We are very greatful to him for suggesting this hard to find, off the beaten path gem.

La Hacienda Cayara
GPS 19° 30′ 04.72″ S   –   65° 52′ 52.69″ W

This place is… gawd, I don’t even know how to describe it, but it’s one of those places you DON’T miss if you are traveling through Bolivia. It was the first country estate to be founded in Bolivia back in 1557. And the entire place is a museum. To be able to stay in a place like this is so unique and so rare that… hell, it has to be done!

Our Sprinter Life karma was rolling because when we arrived, we had just missed a huge group of people from the World Heritage Site. The only people there were a few members of the family that owns the place. That’s right, we spent the night getting drunk with the owners. They were wicked cool.

The next day Arturo gave us a private tour of the estate. Below Stevie sits under two stellar paintings from the 15th century.

Here, Arturo shows off the family library, with books dating back to the early 1500s. Insane.

The actually have an original copy of the Spanish book, The Rules For Indigenous People. If these guys knew about Ebay… well, enough said.

Although they have an extensive collection of 400 year old books, the most impressive thing I saw was the collection of National Geographic. Fifty years without missing a single issue, from the far boondocks of Bolivia!

The property is just amazing. I could go on and on, but I wouldn’t be doing it justice. If you can, go there.

It’s experiences like this that make enduring the challenges of Bolivia so worth it!

After leaving this place, we drove to Sucre where we are currently posted up, resting. After Sucre our plan is to hit the Salt Flats, then move on to Argentina. A new country, can’t wait!






  1. Ding ding.

    Holy shit. That is amazing. I’m reading up on Bolivia right now.

  2. Great Aunt Debby and Great Uncle Barry says:

    OMG What an amazing place. I love the photos of Sol floating int the Eye Of The Inca. She has a look of total trust in Dad!

  3. Auntie Candy says:

    OMG…. this was fantastic Tree and Stevie. Thanks to both of you I am so in love with Bolivia. Thank you for sharing this with all of us.
    When Uncle John and I went to Austria we found our way up in the mountains at a little church that had incredible art and murals. What just blew me away was that this church was locate in such a remote area but was built in the 1300’s by a group of Monks. It was so hard to believe that anyone would be able to even reach this site without the use of modern machinery; and even more humbling to see the incredible history that was laid out for us to see in the art and craftsmanship. The magnitude of what they were able to accomplish made me drop to my knees and the fact that it was every where that we looked really helped me grow and gain an appreciation of the human spirit. Since then we have sought out other sites that are so unique. One day in Romania we heard from a friend that there was a wonderful church located in a far region of the mountains. We change our plans and traveled for almost a day to try and find this site. We were lucky and had good local directions (GPS is not an option in most of Romania). We were able to reach a monastery in the mountains that was still fully functioning. The call for prayer brought many locals and the dedication that followed was amazing. We were lucky and on that day the monks were dedicating a new bell to the site. Villagers from far away walked the long trek up the steep hill to be part of the celebration. It was just amazing. There is something about mountains, mists, and humankind that really helps to center the spirit. So envious and proud of you both.

  4. Day-um. 15th Century.

  5. Brian Thomen says:

    Sweet A True Waterman I Mean Waterwomen!! LOL!!

  6. John Michael Gill says:

    She is so beautiful and calm. Great photo.

  7. Hey, she’s Peruana! She IS an Incan Princess!

  8. Jene Fielder says:

    We have a princess in Peru, and a Prince in Santa Monica, our new world rising..Daddy’s girl…

  9. So marvelous and fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this..must put Bolivia on my “To Go To List”..have a friend that use to go there for a month and stay on a ranch and ride all over the countyside..thanks again.

  10. You guys (and it’s no surprise to me) have the most incredible “people karma” coupled with scary on spot timing. You guys need a Navy Seal …What do you get? you get my point? Sol is taking to water like she’s thinking “hey pop all this floating around is cool but, when do we surf? Be safe and thanks for allowing me to share your adventures!!

  11. Anonymous says:

    SOOOOOOOO STOKED FOR YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!




    I am riding the desk hard in Oregon…

    All the best,


  12. sergio Ballivian says:

    Ahhh yes……!!!!! Cayara…there is no place like it. Arturo and I are amigos from some years now. I take many of my tourism clients and amigos there, because it’s so, so special! There is nothing better than to hang with him and his family, drinking next to the chimney (la estufa) and being surrounded by a few hundred years of history, art and spirits (ghosts?). My first time there was over 25 years ago with an amigo from KY in an old Land Cruiser. We were overlanding before someone even invented the word. Very, very happy for you!

  13. sergio Ballivian says:

    BTW: the rocks and tires on the road are NOT due to the blocades. Those are put there so no one can drive on a newly paved road and destroy it. They need time for the asphalt to cure and get other work done and unless they block all traffic (no cones or fancy dividers available due to cost) everyone will drive on it, especially the severely overweight trucks and will destroy the new road in days. When they block the roads for socio-political reasons…it’s not as nicely done and they have MUCH BIGGER rocks for that purpose. Rocks, they do have a purpose and you need to choose wisely. Safe driving….

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