We travelled from Cusco – Puno – Copacabana – La Paz by bus with Bolivia Hop. From Cusco it was an overnight bus to Puno – about 7 hrs, not sure how but Andrew and I got seats in the bottom level of the bus which were the premium seats – nice and wide, fully reclinable so we actually managed to sleep quite well. We had a quick breakfast in Puno before jumping on a boat to Isla Uros (aka floating islands) on Lake Titicaca for a 2 hr tour. Lake Titicaca is the world’s largest high altitude lake, at 3,800m. The Uros islands are made from the lakes reeds and are home to about 2,000 people. Unfortunately it has become very touristy over the past years, once on a choosen islands the women grab you and show you into their homes and then show you their ‘market’ where we felt quite pressured to buy something. Maria, our lady, spoke English quite well and even spoke some French to two of the other guys in our little group. You can stay overnight on the islands as a homestay guest but I don’t think we would’ve enjoyed that – so happy to just do the quick 2 hour tour.
From Puno we drove another couple of hours to the Peru/Bolivia border. We had to change buses and walk across the border with our bags, stopping at the immigration offices on both sides to get our stamps. It was all very straightforward! We arrived in Copacabana, which is on the Southern shore of Lake Titicaca – a small town which is often a stopover for tourists heading to La Paz or heading to Peru. With Bolivia Hop we had arranged a 4 hr tour of Isla del Sol – a large island (70km sq) north from Copa. The boat trip return was 3 hours so we just had 1 hour to explore the island. We got a bit lost along the way but saw some nice hostels and considered whether we should come back to stay – though the effort proved too much.
Copa was a nice place to stay for two nights – we walked up Cerro Calvario which had 360 degree views of Titicaca and Copa. It was really beautiful though the clifftops were littered with trash – a common sight in South America! That night they was an amazing lightning storm which we watched for about an hour from our hostel window.
We left Copa in the evening of the 30th, we didn’t realise until we got to the dock but we had to disembark the bus and catch a small motor boat across the channel (in the dark) while our bus was put on a large barge which swayed heavily from side to side. As our bus from Copa was a bit late we ended up in La Paz around midnight. The outskirts of La Paz are completely ghetto and rough – as we were passing through I was getting a bit nervous about the conditions the main centre would be in. We arrived to our hostel and there was a massive Halloween party going on but all we wanted to do was sleep so in went the earplugs!
We really didn’t do a lot in La Paz – hence the lack of photos. As the RWC Final was on at midday on Halloween we ended up having a pretty big day/night with some friends we met on our travels. On our final day we did a Walking Tour which was quite interesting – it started at the infamous San Pedro prison (read Marching Powder). It looks so ordinary from the outside you would never guess it was a self-governed prison that houses about 1,500 prisoners plus their families. We also visited the Witches Market where you can get magic potions and llama fetuses for blessing a new building – so bizarre!
We also did the Death Road bike tour – photos to come separetely. Unfortunately we had pretty nasty weather so the photos aren’t the greatest!
We were quite happy to leave La Paz behind as we took yet another overnight bus to Uyuni to start our 3 day tour of the Salar de Uyuni (aka Salt Flats).