After Cusco, we headed to Puno which was our last stop in Peru. We only spent the night here before getting on another bus headed to Copacabana in Bolivia. We’d heard all sorts of stories about the Bolivian border crossing, mainly to do with depending on the day, it could take ages or they might demand money from you. Luckily our crossing was uneventful and quick and once everyone was through, it was back on the bus and we headed to Copacabana.
Copacabana is a tiny little town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. The altitude here is 3841 m (12,602 ft) and again we managed to be staying somewhere up a hill and I cannot express how hard it is going uphill with a rucksack on at 3841m when you are only an averagely fit person. It was worth it though because our home here was the most unique place I’ve ever stayed at. We stayed at a place called Hostal Las Olas, a ‘hotel’ of individual, self-contained little homes with their own themes and looks. We wanted to stay in ‘the turtle’, but we stayed in ‘the sky’ which was still very cool. It had HUGE windows, with a great view of the lake and windows in the roof for looking at the sky. We had a little balcony area with hammocks, deck chairs and occasionally were ‘visited’ by the resident lawn-trimming alpacas.
We liked it so much we booked and extra night and thought we’d just relax and wind down for another day.
We had one excursion while here which involved a very long boat trip to Isla del Sol (Island of the sun), an island on Lake Titicaca. This is another special place for the Inca people, as it was here that the believed the Sun god was born.
As day trips go, this wasn’t that exciting. You have to sit on a boat for about 2 hours to get there, and the island is tiny so the trek across isn’t long at all. I did spend my time marvelling at the clouds though. All of our mornings were bright but all our evenings were stormy and it was fascinating seeing the awesome clouds forming over this huge body of water.
We had a memorable meal here at a little place called Las Velas, which is a restaurant in the home of a husband and wife team. They’re both trained chefs, their place has no electricity and all your food is made from scratch so it can take a while, but once it arrives it is delicious and homely. I had trout and quinoa which sounds like I was being a healthy wanker but is a very Bolivian meal. The restaurant was at an altitude of 4010m, which, excluding for one airport later on, is the highest we spent any real time at.
Back in our Copacabana, we had another evening of sky watching. We didn’t get to use our big windows for stargazing due to our nightly storms but it was very cool watching the menacing clouds advance and see the forks of lightning hit the lake.
After Copacabana, it was a bus ride to La Paz.
I don’t have much to say about La Paz as both Jonny and I spent about 3 days in bed here with awful food poisoning, to the point I was worried I was going to have to go and find a doctor – not something I wanted to do in Bolivia, especially after googling and reading all manner of horrifying things. It was an awful few days, made worse by our room that faced an alleyway and got no daylight, which also made it extremely cold. We had to book an extra night in this terrible room too because we were just too sick to move on as we were supposed to.
On our last day we managed to keep it together to go outside for a bit, so we took a cable car up to the top of the valley La Paz sits in. Topographically, it really was stunning here with the volcano looming in the distance on one side and the intriguing rocks of Valle de la Luna on the the other. The city sits nestled in the valley so elevated in our cable car we really could see everything, houses all stacked upon one another.
Bus travel is much more basic in Bolivia than it was in Peru and we’d read there were no toilets on the buses. In the state we were in, neither of us would have been able to go without a toilet for 12 hours on a bus on bumpy roads, we ended up booking a last minute flight to our next destination of Sucre. It does mean we get to say we’ve flown out of the highest international airport in the world, at least. At 4060m/13,325 ft, I am quite impressed with that box tick.
This wasn’t just a great decision for my insides. The views we got were astounding, looking over all the mountains that surround La Paz was jaw-dropping. This is the kind of landscape you just don’t experience living in England. Everything looked huge and menacing.
Sucre was a welcome change to La Paz. I don’t want to bad mouth La Paz too much as obviously my experience was highly tainted by being ill there, but Sucre was different. Brighter and greener.
We went to a dinosaur museum while here. Sucre is home to the most dinosaur tracks ever found in one place. You get a guide who walks you down to the wall and talks you through the tracks. It was once a clay beach and when the plates moved, it became vertical. I like dinosaurs, so I was fairly interested though I guess from a photo perspective it isn’t that interesting.
It’s amazing to think they’re preserved from millions of years ago. Sadly, these won’t be around forever. The dinosaur tracks were found by a concrete company. The concrete company still work next to the tracks and the tracks are unprotected, so a piece of the wall with the most visible and iconic t-rex prints on fell off a few years ago and are gone forever. They are trying to get UNESCO World Heritage Site status which would give them funding to build plexiglass protection for the wall, but if they don’t it is said the tracks will have eroded away just from the weather by 2020.
We also visited the cemetery while here which was absolutely beautiful and so peaceful. We were followed around by a cat that I’m convinced was a person from another life, but was probably just another case of me not being able to resist saying hello to stray animals and then them following me like the pied piper.
One thing I will remember from Sucre is we got a flash storm where it just suddenly, violently started chucking it down with rain and everyone was running everywhere and as English people we found it very funny. Until it started golf ball sized hail started coming down, then we realised why!
Next stop: Uyuni!