A Travellerspoint blog

Floating Islands - Puno

A super stop over to Lima

semi-overcast 10 °C

The bus from Copacabana to Lima is a long 27 hours in total, so to mix it up a little, I decided to give my legs a stretch and my bum a rest from sitting for the duration, & to partake i na stopover trip, with the rest of the travellers on the bus from Copacabana. It took us 4 hours to get from there to Puno, which is home to a small town and a harbour, where you can take boats over to the Floating Islands, and visit the residents on these manmade creations.

Made by the "Uros" from river reeds and mud these islands float on top of the lake and home families and sometimes small villages (depending on how big the Island). We visited one family, where one man had 5 wives from all different ages (very typical of the Andean/Uro family) and fathered a couple of children. The wives would make cruel work and tapestry out of wool and materials, as well as soveigners for tourists like us. The "King" as they call him, would make sure the Island was still a float, every 15 days or so would make more reeds and mud into the foundations of the Island.

It was amazing to watch this family live their lives, which they deemed to be so normal. The Island consisted of a kitchen, 4 bedrooms and an outdoor toilet, all made from the reeds and the mud. It made great insolation for the cold nights, and they also had solar panlled tv's and cooking equipment! so very modern hey!! The children were very playful and the wives were very friendly and welcoming. They sang us a song before we left, which i think was supossed to be "row, row, row your boat!" Very funny and sweet!

We boarded the boat just as it was getting dark and very cold, back to the bus terminal where I would catch the coach to carry on with the rest of my journey to Lima!.....

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 14:22 Archived in Peru Tagged lakes people Comments (0)

Copacabana - Lake Titicaca

Isle Del Sol

sunny 25 °C

Myself, Maureen and Kelli headed for Copacabana/ Lake Titicaca. Sometimes referred to the highest lake in the world, for its altitude, we were all really excited to leave the bustling city of La Paz behind and visit this extremely beautiful lake.

The bus journey took us up to North Bolivia, just bordering with Peru, and we arrived in Copacabana, where we booked onto a boat for 2 hours later to take is to the Isle Del Sol, or the Sun Island. This sat on the lake along with Isle del Luna - Moon Island. While we waited for our boat we took some time to wander around Copacabana, which isnt at all like the Copacabana in Rio! It is more like a sea side town, with lots of bars and resturants all claiming to do the best lunch deals, but mainly all serve the same thing. 3 courses which work out to be about a fiver, and consists of watery soup, fish and mash and a cheescake of some sort. Not bad after a 12 hour bus journey I suppose!!

The boat over to the Island was an hour and a half and as we approached it, it didnt look like there was much going on at all, lots of tourists waiting to catch our boat back and a few locals hanging around and plugging their hostels to us. We were told by a few people not to stay too near to the lake as a lot of the guest houses had no hot water and electricity, which wouldnt have been a problem, if it hadnt had been so cold at night. The altitude made the day times so hot and sunny and the night time ridiculously cold.

After climbing what felt like a thousand and ten steps, with our heavy back packs on, we reached the hostel we had been taken too by two young, cheeky boys. They only knew a few sentences in english, and they consisted of how much the hostel was per night, "hot showers" and "good hostel", needless to say the owners tried to charge us extra when we got right to the top of this massive hill and there were no hot showers! But we were on the hugest lake ever and that was all that mattered!
From an Island that didnt look like it had much on it, once you walked around the winding tracks, we discovered a village of shops, resturants, houses and schools, it was gorgeous to see a whole community had placed itself onto this island, like a completely different world, cut off by all surrounding main land. It was beautiful.
We watched the sun go down on the very top of the hill, which set behind the sun towers. There were many resturants on the Island, all selling the same menu, pretty much, but we struggled to find one that was open, we had arrived in their winter season so not as many tourists to serve.
That night was freezing, and we had dinner and went to bed pretty early. We had an amazing day, so glad we came to Lake Titicaca. There are many opportunities to trek around the Island as well as boat rides, as we only stayed for a day and a nigt we just wanted to enjoy the peacefulness and relax a bit, knowing i had a 27hour bus journey coming up was tiring even thinking about.

We caught the boat back to Copacabana the next day. It was so warm, such a contrast to the night time. I helped the girls find a hostel to stay in that night, and they helped me find my bus.
This is the last time I would have travelled with the both of them, as I am now leaving Bolivia to Peru to meet Katie! so so excited, sad to leave the girls, an end of an era almost, but we will meet again in Cusco in a few days.
Now i start the begginning of a very tiresome 27 hour bus journey from Copacabana to Lima, stopping off at the Floating Islands.....

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 14:50 Archived in Bolivia Tagged lakes Comments (0)

La Paz

overcast 10 °C

The bus journey was very uncomfortable, not so much from the actual seats etc, but just because we felt very uneasy and found it difficult to sleep. While we were waiting for the bus in Sucre bus terminal, an Austrailian passenger got mugged. It as awful and made us feel very vulnerable. This was the first bad thing i had witnessed in South America.
The bus made lots of stops where people were getting on and off, during the night, and we were sat right at the front, with my day bag on show, so didnt want to fall asleep, as i wanted to keep an eye on all of my belongings. It wasnt the greatest bus journey i had been on, so I was knackered by the time we arrived in La Paz.

I had heard so many great things about La Paz, so I coudnt wait to get there and see it, and get involved in some of the night life, which i had ben craving for quite some time now. I had high expectations, which was probably a mistake as I quickly found it didnt live up to much.

It was very smoggy, the roads were very busy and my first impressions of the people were unfriendly, and i found the place dirty and intimidating. I hoped this was because I felt shattered from the journey, and was looking forward to a rest and shower and then maybe my opinion would change. We found a hostel just on the outskirts of the city centre, mainly because this was quite close to the bus terminal and we didnt have the energy to walk around with our backpacks. The name of the hostel is Bacoo, and again on first impressions it looked like a nice enough hostel. We later discovered this wasnt the case also. I hate to be so negative about a place, but there was just something about La Paz that gave off a bad vibe right from the off.

The one good thing that came out of it was a day doing Death Road. One word... Amazing! One of the best days so far.
This is the Worlds most dangerous roads, where adventure companies take you down it on hyrdolic suspension bikes. I really reccomend the company I used, Overdose Bolivia. They equipped us in protective jackets, and trousers as well as gloves, elbow and knee pads, and a helmet. Even though we were descending down a one track gravel path fom 3600m, with mountains to our right and then drops of nearly 600m to our left, i felt considerably safe with the equipment and guides we had. We saw and cycled through some prety amazing stuff, such as, through rivers and under waterfalls, and took some cool pictures. It was great, it made the adrenaline go sky high, so even though i felt petrified it made it the best day so far! After they took us for lunch at a swimming pool where we were able to relax in the sun, and eat before heading back to La Paz.

I was happy enough to leave La Paz when we did, so booked our bus to go to Copacabana, North Bolivia to see Lake Titicaca.

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 18:01 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Sucre

A beautiful city with beautiful people

sunny 19 °C

We headed for Sucre after one night in Uyuni. We had to get a bus from Uyuni to Potosi which is a small mining town just south of Sucre. Some people decided to stop off there for a night or two to visit the mines, but myself and Maureen decided to catch a bus from here straight to Sucre. We got to Sucre relatively late at night so didnt see much of the city until the next day.

Sucre is the capital of Bolivia, although everyon thinks it is La Paz. In my opinion it is one of the lovliest cities i have visited so far. Its much smaller than any capitals i have been to previously. They have a government rule that all white buildings have to be white washed once a year and neon signage is forbidden on resturants and businesses alike. It was so clean and every morning they have cleaners washing down the statues and monuments of all of the plazas in the city as ell as the floors.

We visited a cafe on one of our first evenings, called Cafe Mirador. It was up a steep hill, which over looked the city, luckily we timed it just right and saw the sunset over the city which was incredible.

It wasnt as i imagined Bolivia to be atall. I was pleasantly surprised. The locals were very friendly. The hostel, Pachamama, was nice too. It was a short walk form the centre of town, and right next to the Mercardo Central. This is where local woman sell fruit, veg, bread, herbs and spices and then meat, where they skin, cut and pack right in front of you. The smell isnt very pleasant and they charge "gringo" prices if your clearly not a Bolivian. But nevertheless it is a great way to do your shopping for meals, it still works out pretty cheap if you buy in bulk and from one stall as they regulary do you deals. Which is what we found when we bought dinner for a birthday celebration on one of the nights.

I played football with the guys from the hostel and local Bolivian teenagers, we played for about 2 hours, but as myself and Maureen were the only girls playing the boys started to get a bit competitive so we decided to leave them to it!

There was some sort of parade going on, on our last day here, where all the schools and local communties got together. They all wore their relative uniforms and bands were playing, all sorts of instruments. There was such a ahppy vibe here it was great, and made the 4 days we were so much more enjoyable.
I loved Sucre and was sad to be leaving, but we had La Paz to visit, so onto the next city, my 8th in just under a month......

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 17:19 Archived in Bolivia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises buildings people Comments (0)

The Salt Flats!!!

San Pedro to Uyuni, Bolivia

all seasons in one day -15 °C

After an early morning start in hundreds of layers of clothes, as it was so cold, we set off in a jeep to start our 3 day trip to Bolivia. And what better way to cross another border than travel up more than 4600m above sea level visiting lagoons, geysers, natural rock formations and of course the salt lakes.

We had to form 3 groups of 6, to fill the 4x4 jeeps. These were then our groups we were with for the 3 day tour. We were driven to the Bolivian Immigration office, this was at a pretty high altitude, so a few people were becoming quite sick as they acclimitised, which was horrible, as it effects people in different ways. One girl was very sick and became very weak, Maureens head started to feel very heavy, and as the day went on she thought her head was going to explode through the pressure.
We were given cocoa tea, leaves and candy to help with the nausea, im not sure if this really helped or whether it was mind over matter, but it relieved some of the pain for a few people.

The day temperature was very changeable with the different altitudes. Some points it was warm but very windy and at other points it was so hot. The first day we visited quite a few lagoons, as well as Flamingos and the geysers, which was quite incredible. While we were driving to and from the attractions, the landscape was unreal, and the higher and inland we were going the less it was looking like a desert.
The first night we were put up in a hostel which was a concrete shell, and homed 4 big bedrooms, a dining area and a kitchen. The beds were made of concrete and the building itself had no insulation, so all we had to keep us warm were our clothes, 2 thick blankets and a sleeping bag. It was one of the coldest nights of my life. I felt very lucky that i wasnt sick ith the altitude though, as it was awful for those poor guys that were sick as well as freezing.

Visiting the salt falts made everything so worth it though. We finally got to them on our last day of the trip, and i have never seen anything like it. 12km sq of salt that had risen to the top of a lake, which had evaporated. It was a huge space of just pure white surface, against a backdrop of piercing blue sky. It was amazing. There we had about an hour to take our photos. Alot of thought and creativity went into the photos taken by everyone. This is where perspective shots are the norm. Was such a great thing to do and i definitely reccomend doing this as a way to cross the border as well as doing something so fab like this.

Uyuni as a city is not anything special, it is mainly used as a stop off point after or before the trip, for people going or coming into Bolivia. We stayed on night before heading to Sucre....

Posted by Chelseakeeler6 16:45 Archived in Bolivia Tagged landscapes lakes Comments (0)

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