Way up high

La Paz Travel Blog

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So from Puno we took the short bus trip to the Peruvian /  Bolivian border.  WE left Puno early the day after we got back from Lake Titticaca. After an easy border crossing we were back travelling again this time on a smaller mini bus that was to take us to our first Destination in Boliva a place called Copacabana less than an hours drive away. ONce in Copacabana we got ourselves checked into a nice place with TV and large room costing only 5 dollars eaach. After having lunch and walking around the tiny town of Caopacabana we realised that there was very little to do there unless you were going to go out to the islands on the Lake. Althouth these isalnds were different to the islands we had seen the Peruvian side we decided against as it didnt look that interesting. So after spending the day we arrived there just looking around the few shops that the town had and watching the sun go down over the lake we decided to depart the next day.  The following day we left the small town of Copacaba only really used as a small hub for trips out to the islands on lake Titticaca for LA PAZ the bustling Bolivian Capital.


We arrived in LA PAZ the highest city in the world early evening. Already just getting out of the bus you could feel how much denser the air was here. We were dropped just a short walk away from where we had planned to stay. Like always the places that lonley planet had reccommeded were full so we needed to look elsewhere. After a run around the block looking for accomation we finally found quite a nice place on the main road. The rooms were quite small but had TV and seemed clean unlike many otheres we had stayed in also they had a hot water shower that was a privege in Bolivia. After pulling Katrinas huge suitcase up a steep hill the altitude really showed in how tough it ws to get your breathe. We got freshened up then went for a large Salad at a place that had been recommended in the lonley planet. After living off chicken and chips in Peru this made a nice change. The following day we were eager to get to the local markets for some shopping. Boilivia was ridiculosly cheap so we were determined to snap up a few bargains while we were in the capital. The currency was 8 Bolivions to 1 dollar and 1 dollar equalled 50p. Although every thing was fake and sometimes a very bad fake things like DVDs didnt really matter. I snapped up two pairs of tracksuits bottoms for  1.50 each and a new shoulder bag for around the same price. We spent the day walking around the markets trying the DVDs to see if they were in English. LA PAZ was a crazy place with like most of these poorer countries no real stucture. Everyone just trying to make money in anyway possible selling anything they can get there hands on. The local people held demonstrations regulary not to sure why but must have something to do with money. Although slightly mad we bothed still really enjoyed the city. There were some lovely parts that actually looked quite wealthy with beautifull colonial buildings and squares where people just sat and watch the world go by. The next day we went to the Coca meuseum. A small Museum tucked away on one of the small side streets that was dedicated solely to go through the history of the coca leaf. As we walked into the small meseum with birds suroounding the entrance with an old coca press by the door I thought it was going to be very boing. In the end after wondering around the small museum reading the english text we had been given it was actually really interesting. I never realised the coca leaf had some uses. The museum went through the usese of coca and the hostory of the coca leaf. Among many things it has been used for Coca Cola, Cocaine, Antibiotics to name but a few. Travelling through South America everywhere you went especially the more ndeginous places you would see people chewing on Coca leaves constantly. Apperently suppoesed to give you Energy and help with the altitude sickness. After the interesting walk around the meseum we passed through the witches market. This was truly a unique experience. The market was basically a road lined with stools either side selling the strangest things. Items such as dead alpaca carcase, stuffed animals and hundreds of other little strange remedies filled the stalls. We were enjoying just relaxing in the city that was sometimes quite a challenge to get around as everything was either up or downhills which were quite tiring. 



We left LA PAZ around 11 am. We needed to get a bus from where we were staying to the bus station. Once at the bus station we waited while they pilled the bus with everything from ducklings to large packages on the roof. The bus was anything but luxury reminding more of a tank than a bus. Finally we were on the bus and leaving to Rurrenbuque the destination for our Pampas jungle trip in the Amazon. The bus journey was a bumpy ride with the buses suspension seeming non exssitent. Around 11 pm as we were trying to get some sleep the bus actually got stuck in the mud. After some struggling with the wheels free spinninh we eventually escaped the thick mud. Eventually we arrived at the small town of Rurranbeque around 4.30 am. It wasnt actually that far but because of the terrible roads taht only allowed us to go about 30 mphs the whole way it took so long. Was in the town we luckily found a small place that we could rest our heads for a few hours after getting very little sleep. We woke up had a fantastic breakfast of pancakes and Bananas then wnet to explore the tiny town. Our tour didnt start until the following day so we could just relax for the day before. Like most of these places that you go to do trips, It relied souly on the tourist trade as without that no one else we go there. There is nothing to do aprt from going to trips to the nearby amazon. We spent a couple hours walking around the small town then luckily where able to watch the football on a tv in the hostel. The next day we were up bright and early ready to leave for our Pampas trip. After a nice breakfast we were picked up in the small mini bus that was to take us to our first stop being lunch then to the boat dock to start out tour. It was the most uncomfortable journey with very little space in the mini bus that was so bumpy, once again we got stuck. this time we were helped out by a large lorry that pulled us out. The muddy tracks were so bad as it had been wet and they had become like a quagmire. Eventually we arrived after 3 hours to our first stop a small restuarant where  we had lunch with the rest of the group. The group consisted of myself and Katrina, an Ozzie guy, a Spanish guy, a Japanese guy, a Italian girl and a couple from Switzerland. After lucnh it was a short tdrive over some muddy terrain to the river where we were going to catch the boat for our pampas tour.  We all jumped into the boat with out driver / guide and off we went. The tour was a three day 2 night tour of the Amazoninan Pampas.  The first part of the tour was the first boat trip down the river to our accomadation. Just on 2 hour boat ride it was amazing the wildlife we saw on the surrounding banks. First off the driver spotted some caiman eyes under some reefs pearing up at us. They we came into some close contact with some chinchilla monkeys. Was absolutley unbelievable we actually went right up to the trees where they were and they actually got in the boat. Was incredible to see this large group of monkeys so close up. We also saw many differnt type of bird along the sides of the river some of them huge birds of prey. We also another type of monkey in the tree but were unable to get so close as before. After a fantastic first part of our tour down the river we had seen so much wildlife already. We arived at our accomadtion, a really coold little wooden camp all bulit about a meter above the river. The camp was made up about 8 cabins used for bedrooms, then a main area used for eating, an area with toilets and a shower and finally a lovely chill out area with just 6 hammocks. It was really clver how it had been constucted so far dwon river away from any land. We got our stuff into our rooms then it was out again on the boat to a bar just a short way down the river. Like our camp this bar was just made up from wood above the river levl. It wasnt really a bar but it did sell alcohol so that was all good. It also had a resident alligator that lived in the water below. The alligator was so tame that you could actuall go down and touch it on the nose. It was beautifull at this area to watch the sun go down, a truly picturesque setting. We headed back to camp for a a fabulous dinner made by the people that lived on the small camp looking after the tourists. After dinner we were on the move agin this time for the night boat ride. This was incredible, setting out on the boat wit only our torches for light. At night is when the jungle come alive, there were so many diffenrent noises coming from every different direction. Although it is amazing at night it does become far harder to see anything. Luckily our guide had eyes like a hawk and spotted a few eyes from the undergrowth, but as we got close the eyes just dissaperad. We were lucky those another group had caught a baby alligator on baord the boat so we went over and got to bring it into out boat to look at. It was so calm just letting our driver hold it telling us some information about them. After a couple of fantastic hours on the water listening to the night forest we headed back to camp for some sleep. In the camp it was straght into the mosqitos nets then to sleep. The mossies out there were absolutley rife. The next day after a fantastic breakfast it was off on the boat again for our morning activity of Anaconda hunting. OUr driver drove us right through thick trees until we came to out destination. After walking around for a long time in 2 different spots we sadly didnt find any Anacondas instead we find thousands of Mosquitos. I have never seen to many mossies as I did walking through the jungle area there were just everywhere. My bum bot bitten to pieces looked like a had the measels. After our walk in the morning lookng for snakes it was back to the camp for some lunch. After lunch we headed out for our afternoon activity which was swimming in the like with the pink Dolphins. I thought I would be very brave and get in first but after dangling my foot over the edge the dolphin bit my tor. I think it was more of a case of he opened mouth to see what it was and I tried to drag my foot back up resulting in him drawing blood from my toe. Eventuall evryone got into the river with the dolphins who you could feel under the water bumping you. Was a really weird feeling though as the water was to mirky to see what was under there but every know and again you would just feel something against you in the water. All of us believing the driver when he said that is there is dolphins then there wnot be piranhas. After our swim with the dolphins it was back to another place to watch the sunset then back for some dinner. After dinner it was a night on the hammocks just relaxing trying to avoid the mossies. On the trird and final day we were up really early to watch the sunrise. It was incredible to see the sky changing colurs above the junlge with the reflections bouncing onto the river as the sunrise. After the beautifull sunset it was back for breakfasth then out again for our last activity of Piranha fishing. It didnt concern me slightly that we were fishing in the same river for Piranhas that we had been swimming in the day before but oh well. At the beginning my enthusiasm was high thinking that this was going to be easy. After 30 mins of sitting there and no one on the boat catching anything, actually I lie of the guys caught something that resembled a gold fish my enthusiasm was starting to wain. Our driver not being beaten moved onto to somewhere else again with not much action. We tried one more place where the old piranhas started to take the bait. Our driver caught one first then the spansig guy then the Oz guy but I seemed to play with one for about 30 mins wit him obvoisly winning as I caught nothing and he stole all my bait. Although myself and Katrina caught nothing we still got to enjoy some fried Piaranha back at the camp. After our final meal it was on the boat with out bags then back to dry land. The trip was just unbelievable we just saw so much wildlife in such a short period of time. I forgot to mention the huge crocodile that lived outside our camp coming within touching distance in the search of food. We saw crocs, caimans, alligators, 3 different specie monkey ( Chinnchilla, cappucono and howler ), turtles, pink dolphins, and so many differnt birds. After the trip back to main land it was straight back into the minibus for the 3 hour journey back to the town of Rurenbeque. Was back into to Rurrenbeque we got freshed up for the first time in three days, I discovered all my mossie bites then we went out for a meal with a few of the people from the tour. The next day we were on the bus again for the journey back to LA PAZ.       

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La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009