Cusco - Peru to La Paz - Bolivia
Jul 5, 2014
|Our last entry was on Sunday 29th June and we were back in the hotel in Cusco having finished our trek.
On Monday we rejoined the truck and it was now full with 22 passengers and we had fun trying to fit all our luggage in the gear locker. It was a bit like a game of Tetris and eventually all the bags fitted.
We had a long days drive, stopping at the Sillustani ancient ruins which predate the Inca civilisation, before arriving at the city of Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca.
This is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,812 meters above sea level.
On Tuesday we had a visit to the very touristy Uros reed islands on Lake Titicaca.
We had a trip to the docks by Cyclo which really set the standard of this cultural trip.
To give the locals credit they have turned this mass of floating reed islands into a money making exercise which helped to preserve their culture and heritage. The majority of the group enjoyed dressing up in brightly coloured clothes and buying souvenirs made from the reeds.
Helen had been here before and Nigel felt he wasn't getting the full cultural experience but enjoyed the fun aspect.
We had a short trip in a reed boat which was really entertaining as they allowed members of the group to row.
In the afternoon we drove from Puno and crossed the border into Bolivia.
We all exited the truck and totally ignored Nick's (our driver) clear advice - piling into the Peruvian immigration office and getting our immigration slips stamped and then walking to the Bolivian immigration office about 300 meters uphill - and as we were at a height of about 4000 meters quite draining. We pilled into this office only to get sent back to Peru down the hill as we hadn't gone to another office and got our exit from Peru recorded and our passports stamped.
On entering Bolivia we had a short trip to the town of Copacabana where we had a late dinner and a couple of beers while some of the younger members of the group partied into the early hours.
On Wednesday we had an organised activity on lake Tikicaca when the majority of the group took a boat trip to the Island of the sun and the Pre Inca ruins. There we were shown a stone altar that had apparently been used for sacrifice and a rock formation that resembled a puma. Having viewed the site we had a 6 mile hike over island.
Some of the group wished they hadn't partied quite so hard and others didn't feel up to this trip for various medical reasons. We both enjoyed this walk - the path was clear so we were free to walk at our own speed and we seemed to be getting our 'altitude lungs' and stretched out and and enjoyed the exercise. Two of the younger members of the group thought that they were fit enough to run the entire route - forgetting that they were at 4000 meters above sea level. They only lasted a few hundred meters - admittedly all up hill.
On Thursday we left Copacabana and had a 4 hour drive to the Bolivian capital, La Paz. We had to cross lake Titicaca and Carman our truck got her own barge. We had the afternoon to explore and later joined up for our end of tour meal.
Smithy our guide led us to a nearby restaurant where we had a nice meal and were also treated to some traditional(?) dancing. The dancing troop made the evening fun with local music and fancy dress with a great deal of audience participation. Yes, we both got to show off our dance moves.
On Friday the official tour finished but 14 of us signed up for a adrenaline packed day mountain biking on "The road of death". This is a dirt road that has been cut out of the cliffs and was originally built by prisoners of war from Paraguay in 1932. This road joins La Paz with another nearby city.
About 8 years ago a new road was built that bypassed this hazardous route and made our route mostly disused by motorised traffic and a little safer.
UTube has loads of video of this trip if you're interested.
We started by being driven to a Carpark at about 4,500 meters where we were given protective clothing and helmets. Evan, one of our American members of the group, needed to express his national pride by wearing the Stars and Stripes during the descent as it was the 4th of July. We then had our mountain bikes fitted (brakes and frame sizes) and a detailed briefing by our Kiwi guide who was very enthusiastic. Andy our main guide was 10 months into his 12 month contract with "Gravity Assisted Mountain Biking" which through word of mouth and our own research were the best outfit in La Paz.
We started our downhill ride on the new road which was Tarmac and quite busy with traffic and then took a rest as the road ascended to the beginning of the TROD.
We completed sections which involved bone rattling descent with very steep unprotected drops, but as long as you weren't stupid and kept within your cycling ability it was probably safer than cycling in central London traffic. It was a case of 'hang on and go as fast as you can'. Loads of fun.
When we finished the rest of the group went on a zip line while we watched and drank beer with Andy and Will our guides.
We got back to the hotel at about 9.30pm and slept soundly.
Today is Saturday 5th July and we're having an admin day with washing, scrubbing boots and watching the World Cup.
Tomorrow we will be changing hotels and joining our new group to tour Bolivia.
Our next update will be from somewhere in Bolivia on or before 18th of July.