Lake Titicaca and La Paz

La Paz Travel Blog

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Towering over Lake Titicaca.
After bumming around Cusco for a couple of days and considering my many options i decided to join Jason and Liam (you might remember them from my Salkantay trek) in traveling south thru Western Bolivia. My goal...to try and reach Salta Argentina before i run out of time and money. Buenos Ares is out of the question this trip, i had to change my return ticket to come back to NYC some three weeks earlier than i had originally intended due to money constraints. Having done that i figured i would try to squeeze in as much as possible in the three weeks i had left.
 
So yes, Cusco. We had dinner at Paddy's and toasted the great town. As far as Peru goes it was by far the coolest place i stayed. Sadly i think Paddy's got me sick that night for soon afterwards my travelers ailment returned.
 
We caught a 1030pm bus bound for Copacabana Bolivia situated on the eastern bank of Lake Titicaca, the highest elevated navigable lake in the world.
Laundry
In South America you get what you pay for so... seeing as how we got tickets for the cheapest non stop Cama(bus) we would find this would turn out to be the worst bus ride of my life.
 
Firstly the bathroom on the 10 hour ride was out of order. Ok, fine, im a grown man i can hold it. Around 1am the bus temperature dropped to just above freezing. We huddled under thick blankets, fully clothed, shivering. The bus driver, schooled on the lawless roads of Peru and Bolivia took hairpin turns and bumps with reckless abandon turning a bus ride into a turbulence filled flight into darkness. "Sleep" was a semi waking state that afforded little to no rest. What else is new tho? I have spent more time on buses than in deep REM sleep since my arrival to South America.
 
Now, i don't want ya'll to think im constantly complaining. Far form it, you learn to accept these things while on the road, as the comforts of home melt away into stark third world reality.
So gorgeous.
This is all just a part of the experience.
 
At some point before dawn our skillful and intrepid driver slaughtered a donkey with his lumbering death mobile. Pieces of meat slammed into the windshield, splintering it into a cobweb of glass, the front bumber flew off, and the back tire blew out. We sat on the road for an hour, mostly clueless and oblivious as the driver jury rigged repairs.
 
When traveling in South America you learn to not be surprised by anything. So when we were ushered off of our "non-stop" bus at 6 am, we didnt as much as raise a peep in protest. Those of us bound for Copacabana were transferred to a run down mini bus where...we sat and waited, cold, tired and confused... for god knows what. I couldnt stop my guts from twisting and (if you are squeamish about bowel movements or if you feel like i shouldn't even be mentioning them in detail please skip to the next paragraph) convulsing, so i jumped out the bus into the brown dusty village by the road.
Boats on the lake.
Finding a decrepit wall and a bucket i did my  solemn duty. I don't think i was really ever alive until that point, sitting on a slop bucket in the frozen morning dawn in the Peruvian country side. I wonder how long it will take me to stop making sure i have toilet paper in my knapsack when i return to NYC.
 
Next stop the Bolivia/Peru boarder. The military stationed there, straight out of a bad 80's movie about dictators, took great relish in extracting the $135 visa fee that only Americans pay from me. Then, upon learning that i did not have my yellow fever vaccination (which is required if you go down into the Bolivian lowlands) i was ushered before yet another cinema cliche, a fat, older, gravely voiced, cigar chomping colonel or whathaveyou where i was in formed that visa fee of not i would not be allowed into the country. I heard "Cien Dollares" mentioned and getting the hint i bribed the fat batard with a hundred american dollars.
Setting sun.
 
My entry into Bolivia having gone extremely well i climbed back into yet another mini bus dejectedly, and we were off to Copacabana.
 
Lake Titicaca is a lake located on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It sits 3,812 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest commercially navigable lakes in the world. By volume of water, it is also the largest lake in South America.
Rising sun.
 

'Isla del Sol' is an island in the southern part of Lake Titicaca. There are over 80 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca period circa the 15h century AD. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third millennium BCE.  In the religion of the Incas, it was believed that the sun god was born here.

 

Laka Titicaca...magnificent. Not so much the settlements that dot the borders, but the crisp blue waters themselves.

The Bolivian Navy flexing its muscles.
Situated at over 3,800 meters you can see Andean snow caps upon it's far banks.

We arrived too late for the boat bound for our destination, the Isla Del Sol, so i decided we hire a private boat. The locals wanted 300 bolivianos for the trip, but we were pretty broke, and the one ATM in town did not take any of our cards, so using the skills we learned in our time in South America (haggle haggle haggle) we got the price dropped to 60 bol and set out on a 90 minute boat ride to the island.

The isla turned out to be a small island, elevated over the lake, with some stunning views. Dark blue waters flowed into bright blue sky, lit by some of the clearest sunlight ive ever seen. In the distance snowcapped giants stood guardian over the lake. We spent the day lounging around in front of our cliffside hostel, drinking cervesas and taking in the view. For a few moments it seemed like South America was behind us and we were chillin in the Virgin Islands.

We´re on a muthafuckin boat!
Sunset brought forth a vast array of bleeding colors, and the snow capped giants turned from pink to purple and then faded into dusk.

The next morning we took an early boat off the island and headed for La Paz, Bolivia, where i hoped to find some cheap sunglasses to replace those i wreaked, and a doctor to cure my ailing stomach.

La Paz, Bolivia is located at an elevation of 3,660 meters above sea level, making it the world's highest capital city. The city sits in a "bowl" surrounded by the high mountains of the altiplano. As it grows, La Paz climbs the hills, resulting in varying elevations from 3,000 meters to 4,100 meters.
La Paz coming in from El Alto.


Ah La Paz, what can i say about you that isn't mean and hurtful? You have a beautiful mountain looming over your shithole of a city. You have wonderful exhaust fumes clogging the air. Your Witches Market is a nightmarish maze of dead meat and fake logos. You...

Ah screw it. I hate this city. In fact i might do a little dance of joy when my bus rolls out tomorrow. No where else in South America that ive visited has the division of wealth been so starkly illuminated. The city sits in a crater or bowl, and all the money resides in the deepest depths, away from the breathtaking altitude. The rich push the poor into the outskirts, so much so that a new city is forming on the edges of the carter, aptly named El Alto.

While the rich live amongst a strange mix of old spanish colonial buildings, well trimmed parks, garish modern condos and tall glass office buildings the poor inhabit the same type of squalor found every where else in Bolivia and Peru. It's sickening to experience. Altho the downtown is clean and modern it is kept that way on the stooped and bent backs of the poor, who literally scrape the ground on hands and knees. So it is no surprise whatsoever that every day ive been here thousands of poor workers have taken to the streets in traffic clogging protest. The are protesting wages of $80 a month, the gendrification of their downtown, and the clean well dressed Spaniards who look down upon them in contempt.

Fair enough, i say.

Anyway, enough for now. Enjoy the pictures from Lake Titicaca. next Stop, the Salt Flats of Bolivia, Salar de Uyuni.
 
 
Stigen says:
Great stuff :) I think I would rather stay with the "luxury" bus that cost a few dollars extra, and hopefully can offer a semi-sompetent driver as well as a working toilet...
I hope there is diving in the lake !
Posted on: Jan 19, 2012
wolfrelic says:
Nuevo Contenentasl is memory serves right. If you have a subthermal sleeping bag bring it with you!
Posted on: May 22, 2010
RJ82 says:
which bus company did you take? how much was it? its a 10 hr drive from cusco to lapaz? how cold are we talking here?
Posted on: May 21, 2010
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Towering over Lake Titicaca.
Towering over Lake Titicaca.
Laundry
Laundry
So gorgeous.
So gorgeous.
Boats on the lake.
Boats on the lake.
Setting sun.
Setting sun.
Rising sun.
Rising sun.
The Bolivian Navy flexing its musc…
The Bolivian Navy flexing its mus…
We´re on a muthafuckin boat!
We´re on a muthafuckin boat!
La Paz coming in from El Alto.
La Paz coming in from El Alto.
La Paz
photo by: wilfredoc2009