•Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol•

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On Saturday (Sep 24) we left La Paz early in the morning for a 2-days tour to the famous Isla de Sol. The island is located in the middle of Lake Titicaca – the highest commercially navigable lake in the world (approx. 3,800m) which also marks the border between Bolivia and Peru. From Copacabana (the town is really named like this!) we took a boat to Yumani on Isla del Sol –the birthplace of the sun (acc. to the Inca).

 

Fleur and Alex had booked the same tour and so we climbed up the hill together with them and a tour guide until we reached our accommodation for the night at approx. 4,000m above sea level.  The view was breathtaking: in the east we could see the peaks of one of Bolivia’s highest mountains (Illimani & Illampú) and to the other side we saw the Peruvian cost!

 

After a break on the hotel terrace we explored the environment. We came across diverse plants and herbs which cover the multilevel fields of the island. Local farmers were on their way home carrying traditional tools which could have been exposed in a museum too.

 

Dark clouds appeared at the horizon so we hurried up to reach the top of the nearby hill (highest point of the Isla del Sol) to see the sunset. After a couple of thunders and lightning it started snowing in the night. In the morning the snow turned into rain – well, it’s only spring here! Despite the bad weather we visited an Inca-ruin before we then took the boat back to the mainland (Copacabana) and rode off to the Peruvian border by bus.

 

Here you can see the pictures!

 


 

•La Paz – the highest capital of the world•

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Around 7:30pm (Sep 21) we stepped on to the night bus heading for the Bolivian capital of La Paz (3200 – 4100m). The bus seemed alright, except for the missing seat belts but when more and more people came aboard and the bus finally took off, we wished we’d chosen a different bus company. Unfortunately we were seated in the first row and for the first 5 hours the bus plummeted up and down over potholes. The whole bus was shaking and clanking in an irregular rhythm so it was a miracle that we dozed off. There was dust blowing in our faces through the slots in the driver’s cab all the time and hardly any air to breath – a real hell ride. Around 2am we then luckily continued our journey on paved roads and arrived in La Paz at 6:30 am.

 

After we’d recovered from our strains of the past days we then discovered the highest capital in the world. Handicrafts and souvenirs were offered in the small alleys. Bolivian women were sitting in front of their shops with colorful ponchos and a “bombín”(traditional bowler hat). Handpainted advertisement posters embellish rundown colonial buildings and everything seems to be long in the tooth except the “Plaza Murillo” with the surrounding governmental buildings.

 

In the evening we met with Miguel, the Bolivian artist. We spent a nice evening and got to know a lot of things about Bolivia and its history. The next day (Sep 23) we went to the printing company where the PASO flyer La Paz were printed.

 

 

Beside his studies and his work (audiovisual communications) Miguel is a voluntary firefighter and he was so kind to ask his colleagues from his fire station to help distributing the PASO flyers. They agreed and so we went to the fire station in order to express our gratitude. We got to know his colleagues, were shown around the fire station and got to know a lot about the circumstances they have to deal with every day. At this point we’d like to thank Miguel for all the time, effort and the precious knowledge.

 

In the evening we met again with the couple from the „Salar de Uyuni-Tour” (Fleur & Alex) and enjoyed tender llama filet – a culinary delight!

 

 

 

And what’s the “green” news?

Well… unfortunately not much! There are some recycling bins – which are not used properly. It seems that Bolivia hasn’t progressed very far with environmental issues. Trash is thrown on the ground irresponsibly and water as well as electricity is not handled economically. It is to be hoped that some come across our tips and try to break new ground in living more environmentally friendly.

 

Here you can see more pictures!

 


 

•Salar de Uyuni•

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On Monday (Sep 19) we hit the road for our 3-days tour from San Pedro de Atacama (2400m) to Uyuni (Bolivia). To the delight of all Chileans and to our torture it was the Independence Day the day before (Sep 18) and all over the country people were celebrating this event-we hardly got any sleep.

 

Overtiredly we were picked up at our hostel at 8am and were brought to the emigration both where already approx. 200 other travelers were desperately waiting for the exit stamp in their passports. It took us 3 hours until we finally we ready to go to the Bolivian border (20 km away).

 

After the immigration formalities in a small den at 3,600 m above sea level we changed cars and boarded the Toyota Landcruiser with worn tyres which should be our ride for the coming 3 days. Right after the boarder we entered the Reserva Nacional de Fauna Andina Eduardo Abaroa (REA).

 

 

We saw white, turquoise and red lagoons with countless flamingos and then drove to a geyser field (4850 m) where I (Patrick) stepped into a boiling hot mud hole. Luckily nothing serious happened – only my shoes suffered a bit. Such a tour takes its toll. Especially the first night was the horrible: we spent it in a refuge without heater (4200m) and experienced the altitude sickness ourselves – a throbbing headache, nausea and fever wouldn’t let us sleep.

 

The next morning we felt like shit – but what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! And luckily we didn’t ascend the second day. We got to see more lagoons, cactus and volcanoes.

 

The second night we spent in a small town with a nicely decorated salt hotel – no comparison to the night before. We got to know other travelers and had dinner together while there was a “Bolivian women fight”-DVD running on TV which was the laughter of the day.

 

 

Highlight of the tour was the visit of the salt flat (Salar de Uyuni) on the third day. At 5:30 am we left the salt hotel to see the sunrise over the 12,000 sqm big salt desert which  has been a huge lake millions of years ago. Endless wides, the silence and the freezing cold took our breath away!

 

We spent the whole morning at the salt flat and visited the train cemetery in Uyuni before the tour ended downtown Uyuni around 3:30 pm.

Uyuni itself is just a starting point for tours to the Salar de Uyuni and has nothing to offer really. That’s why we decided to directly catch a bus together with Alex and Fleur (a couple we got to know during the tour) to the Bolivian capital La Paz the same night (9 € each).

 

How this bus ride was and what else happened in La Paz you’ll get to know in the upcoming article. Here you find the pictures from the Salar de Uyuni.

 

P.S.: We are glad that we find new friends in our tour partners Fleur & Alex (GB & FR) and Marcello and Marcella (BR).