Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Bolivia-part 1

07-08.04.2012 - LAKE TITICACA

We saw the wonderful Titicaca lake for the first time from the hostel rooftop terrace while waiting for breakfast...however, the waitress never came and we had to rush to the bus terminal with empty stomach!

Morning bus from Puno (Peru) to Copacabana (Bolivia). Company: Panamericana. Price: 10 soles. Departure: 7.30am Arrival 12.00pm (4.5 hours journey)

This bus took us to the boarder of Peru with Bolivia. Honestly, it didn't look like a border, more like a market! We did all the procedures to get our entry visa and arrived in Copacabana.

The journey was mostly alongside the coast of the Lake Titicaca...the views were great: it doesn't look like a lake, more like a sea and the landscapes were stunning.

It was the Saturday before Easter, right the time when all Bolivians from La Paz travel to Copacabana in a sort of catholic pilgrimage, so what we decided to do is go right away to the Isla del Sol, the most famous island of the lake inhabited by an Aymara community.
We took a boat together with island residents that were carrying food provisions to the island: the sun was shining and the colour of the sky and of the clouds made the whole landscape look even more amazing.

Once on the Island (south town, Yumani), a little local kid named Jon won our attention and escorted us to his auntie's hostel. The path was quite steep and altitude at almost 4000mt above sea level didn't make it easier! The hostel was a very basic accommodation, but with a terrace overlooking the lake and the Cordillera Real snowcapped mountains, so we decided to stay there (and make the little guy happy with a small tip). This hostel was the best decision and later you will understand why!

We spent the afternoon in a local "restaurant" with the terrace overlooking the other side of the island, where we could admire the sunset.

Then we had a delicious quinoa soup & trout for dinner at another restaurant and finally went to our room and watched a movie. After a while, a bright light from outside got our attention and we went outside to check it out....well, in front of us was one of the most amazing and unforgettable scenarios we have ever experienced in our lives...a huge, bright full moon right in front of the hostel, reflecting on the still water... absolutely breath-taking.

But it didn't end here.
The following morning we woke up early to check the sunrise...well...the sunrise was if possible even more stunning than the moon last night!! and our terrace was a perfect spot to admire its beauty. We will never forget this Easter weekend for the rest of our lives!

Watch it here:

After breakfast we took off for a trek towards the north part of the was a pleasant sunny trek with lovely views of the lake and again nature surprised us with some impressive creations among the clouds.

Whilst Yumani was almost a "mountain" village, Challapampa on the north side was like a coastal town, including a real beach. Sometimes this island really reminded me of some Mediterranean island... We had lunch at a restaurant and waited for our boat to get back to mainland Copacabana. On the way back we stopped at some floating islands, which were interesting to see, but really too touristic.

Back in Copacabana at about 6pm, we took right away a bus to La all buses were full, all we could get was an economic small bus with local people. The journey was longer than expected because of the great traffic of people returning to La Paz after their "pilgrimage". We were quite surprised when all of a sudden we were all asked to get off the bus and board a boat to cross to the other side of another lake...there is no bridge so the bus has to go empty on a boat and all passengers on another one and wait for the bus on the other side!!!

We arrived in La Paz at 10.30pm, took a taxi and went straight to a random hostel called Maya Inn, right in the centre of the city on Calle Sagarnaga. It was not a great hostel but the location was perfect.

09-10.04.2012 - LA PAZ

After breakfast (very basic breakfast with bread, jam, butter and tea/coffee), we took a walk in the centre and did some souvenir shopping at the many market stalls on the street. We liked La Paz a lot, as everyone does I guess because of its relaxing feeling. We discovered a restaurant/cafe called Banais (with wi-fi), that soon became our favourite spot in La Paz!

In the evening we went to the bus terminal with the intention of leaving for Uyuni in the south of Bolivia, only to find out no bus was leaving the city. Why? apparently some community had trapped some thieves, now police were releasing the thieves and the community was blocking all the ways out of La Paz in sign of protest.
It is quite common here in Bolivia to paralyze the roads to protest for any case, it was interesting to see the unhappiness of people about it and we even got interviewed by a local tv!! :-) At the end we had to return to the hostel and spend one more night and day in La Paz. Not too bad, as Lorena was able to do even more shopping!! :D