Bolivia – Day 2

On the second day in Bolivia, I was glad to get an early start and get away from the fumes in the “hostal”, which came from the dining room floor which seemed to have been washed with diesel.

The first stop was an incredible display of natural stone “art”.

From the rocks, we continued through the mountains and volcanoes to another lagoon.

On then to a stunning display from nature. A volcano had blown its top and deposited it over a vast area. Some of the lumps of lava having been shaped by nature and interpreted by the natives. You can use your own imagination.

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Bolivia

After more than 4 months in Perú, I crossed the border into Chile. I stayed there, in the city of Arica, long enough to celebrate my birthday and to get ill. It was the worst case of sickness I have had, since I arrived in South America but a trip to a doctor and US$40 soon had me on the mend. I was well enough to travel to San Pedro de Atacama, where I stayed for just one night before embarking on a 4 day trip to Bolivia.

The trip was amazing. The scenery was stunning. The accommodation was basic, particularly on the first night. My travel companions were great fun, as was the driver/guide, Mario. The only downside to the trip was the driver who returned us to the border on the last day. Not only was he surly, unhelpful and uninformative but also a really bad driver. He reinforced that opinion when he took off-road, too literally, failed to make a bend and when he braked too hard too late, managed to unseat everyone except himself.

That incident did nothing to spoil the overall impression of the trip but the tour company, Colque Tours, were not really interested.

The first day started with being collected from the hotel and after passing through customs and immigration at San Pedro de Atacama, being transported by bus to the Chile/Bolivia border. After completing the entry process into Bolivia, we were assigned into groups and to our vehicles complete with drivers.

The vehicle was a Toyota Landcruiser and the driver was Mario. The group was made up of 2 young ladies from Italy, 2 young men and a young lady from Portugal and myself (the not so young man) from England. The others seemed to have no end of languages available to choose from and they all so spoke English except Mario. And so began my sojourn in Bolivia.

From the hot springs, we moved on to the similarly hot and very smelly, geysers.

After the geysers, we made our way to the very basic (not even a shower) accommodation, where we had lunch and a rest before visiting the nearby, Coloured Lagoon. We then spent the night in the basic accommodation, where it was as many as six people in a room.

Colca Canyon

The trip to Colca Canyon consisted of travelling from Arequipa in Perú on day one, staying overnight at Chivay and then an early start to arrive at El Cruz del Cóndor at 08.30 on the second day. There were various stops along the way for fotos etc.

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We had a 06.30 start on day 2 with a couple of stops on the way to the viewing point for the condors. We only had one hour to get pictures and sadly, for some people, the condors don´t always oblige. I was fortunate, I got my first sight of a condor almost immediately followed quickly by another. I then had to wait another half an hour before 2 more came soaring past. I did see 2 more before leaving but they were too far away to get pictures of them. However, I counted myself as being very fortunate.

Condor

Condor

Lake Titicaca continued

After breakfast, on the second day of the Lake Titicaca tour in Perú, together with my companions Wen and Del, I was escorted to the small harbour by the man of the household in which we had stayed, to meet up with the rest of our party. The islanders took their responsibility of looking after us very seriously, although we only stayed with them for one night. Presumably they would be receiving another batch of guests later that day and have to do it all over again.

We set off from Amantani, to the neighbouring island of Taquile where we would explore, then have lunch before returning to Puno. After dropping us off on one side of the island, the boat set off for the other side, leaving us to make our way over the top.

Although the cultures of all three islands we visited varied, it seemed that they all had a great pride in their history and tried to keep to tradition as best they could.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca lies between Perú and Bolivia and is claimed to be the highest navigable lake in the world. It is a great place to visit and has both artificial and natural islands.

The artificial islands, known as the Floating Islands of the Uros, are constructed from totora reeds which grow close to the shore. The Uro people also build boats from the same reeds. They are a friendly people and seem keen to show off their way of life.

From the floating islands, we set off to the natural island of Amantani, where we were to stay overnight, lodging with local families. I was allocated to the same family as, Del, a solo traveller from the USA and Wen, a young lady from Malaysia, also travelling alone. The accommodation can best be described as basic but the families were very friendly and also protective. They also provided us with our meals.

After lunch, we rested, before being led by our guide, Ruben, on an ascent to the summit where we were able to view a magnificent sunset.

After viewing the sunset, we stumbled back down the hillside to our accommodation where we were fed and then dressed in local garb, before being escorted to a local party, where there was traditional music and dancing.

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From Cusco to Puno

To travel from Cusco to Puno, in Perú, instead of the usual direct bus, I decided to take the tourist route. This involved several stops along the way and included the services of a guide. There was also a stop for lunch and the journey took almost 10 hours.

 

The first stop was at Andahuaylillas to visit the church of San Pedro. Unfortunately, cameras are not allowed to be used inside. The church has many works of art and is known as the ” Sistine Chapel of Perú”.

 

 

The next stop was Raqchi, a large Inca site. It had been partially destroyed by the invading Spaniards but some of it is still standing.

 

 

The next stop was for lunch, buffet style, which was adequate. I sat at a table occupied by a friendly couple from Argentina, which gave me an opportunity to get advice for my forthcoming visit to their country.

 

Onward and upward to La Raya, at 4335 metres above sea level, the highest part of the journey and an opportunity to take fotos.

 

 

The next stop was at Pukara. One again, in the museum, cameras were not allowed to be used.

 

And finally, on to Puno, on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

 

Puno-PERU

Puno-PERU (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leaving the Rainforest

After just 2 nights, it was time to leave the rainforest. It was a fantastic experience and as far as Perú is concerned, I have to put it as the second favourite place I have visited, so far. Machu Picchu being the overall favourite.

I was up well before breakfast, so decided to walk through the grounds, hoping to get a decent picture of one of the yellow tailed birds in flight. They looked great, however, I was too slow.

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