A Travellerspoint blog

Lake Titicaca

Copacabana

sunny 20 °C

We left the big city for some chill out time at the highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca. The lake spans across Bolivia and Peru.
On the way we had to cross the lake, while we got a small boat across, our bus got an even smaller one!!!

Copacabana - ferry.JPG

We stayed in a lovely hostal with amazing views of the lake and spent a couple of days there taking in the scenery and tasting the local trout.

Copacabana.JPG

Many hippies fill the town selling there jewerly and all the locals sell their huge popcorn (no joke, some of it is bigger than your hand)!!!

There was not much to see here in Copacabana so we headed to Puno (Peru side of the lake) to check out the famous floating islands.

Posted by robandem 14:50 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

La Paz

Wicked City

sunny 20 °C

After a very long and very bumpy (even by Bolivian standards)bus ride we arrived at the Bolivian capital of La Paz. The first impressions were what an amazing position the city is in, flanked by hills on all sides and with amazing views of snow capped mountains.

La Paz.JPG

Heading down to La Paz we passed through the rather poor suburbs, everywhere a toilet! Not sure what to expect we booked into the Hotel Turino, a beautifull old house with courtyard. Rooms not great, little cold, not the best views from the window,

View from Room.JPG

but it was very very cheap! And with interesting showers!!!!

shower.JPG

We spent the afternoon exploring and soon realised what a great city La Paz was. Loads of stuff going on, street sellers selling everything from loo roll to mobile phones, crazy drivers, loads of shoe shiners, and interesting food stalls.

La Paz Market1.JPG

Spent longer in La Paz than planned as we felt quite jadded after the salt flat tour but not a problem considering they make the best hot chocolate in the world! We did treat ourselves by going to the best restaurant in town (where the ministers have dined), still only cost 17 pounds including a very very good reserve wine!!! yum yum. This backpacking lark is easy!!!

Posted by robandem 14:22 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Salt Flat 4x4 Tour

"The killer couple"

sunny 20 °C

Day 1

We woke on the morning of the 8th having booked a 4 day jeep adventure to see the most spectacular scenery in Bolivia with Neils and Amber. Stocked up with water, pringles and most of all LOO ROLL we were ready to go.
Our vehicle was a red 4x4 Toyota as used by the Taliban! We met with the driver and English guide, Angel and Archie, and loaded the jeep. Having decided to ditch the cook in place for more leg room, we left Tupiza behind in a cloud of dust (at this point we thought we had Schumacher behind the wheel, little did we know!).
We drove for the next couple of hours through red formations that resemble needles 4200 meters high. Rob at this point was slightly in need of the loo roll already due to a fear of heights!
We passed many small "villages", local farmers, gold mines, and hundreds and hundres of Llamas (which we also had for lunch that day!).

After a long drive we stopped for the night in a small village called San Antonio de Lipez, 4660m, 250 inhabitants (50% children).

Emily´s locals.JPG

The day before leaving we started our so called anti-altitude sickness tablets which seemed to work well. Unfortunatley that night Rob developed a, shall we call it ´toxic stomach gasses´, bad tummy. Much to our surprise the next morning the loo roll was the life saviour!

Day 2

An early rise and we set off again for the longest day of the trip. Although first up and out we were quickly over taken by a second group who also left Tupiza at the same time. We began to realise that Angel was far from being Schu!!

We passed through more very small villages and towns. The inhabitants survive on delivering their meat produce to near by towns while the children, some as young as 5 years, are left to mind the houses.

Local transport.JPG

After 6 hours in the now most uncomfortable jeep we arrived at Kollpa Laguna, a welcome hot spring that was much needed by our sore joints!

Hot Springs.JPG

Then onto Volcan Licancabur overlooking a blue lagoon.

Blue Lagoon.JPG

Following Rob´s morning eruptions, Emily decided to join in! Not requiring loo roll but a gass mask! The altitude pills had turned our stomachs into sulphur factories. Yuk! Archie decided to rename us ´The Killer Couple´!

We continued the tour through the Dali Desert, a forest of eroded stones that inspired Dali melting clocks artwork. One more hour and we arrived at the `Sol de Manana´ a 1km sq km area of craters of burning lava and geysers. We were now at the highest point of our journey, some 5400m above sea level!

Volcanic steam vents.JPG

To help us with the altitude we chewed coca leaves! Not as nice as expected considering all Bolivianos chew them.

Coca leaves.JPG

We spent the evening in another local village. Electricity is turned off at 10:00 so we had a prime opportunity to use our head torches at last.

Day 3

We woke early and headed straight for the Laguna Colorada, which is located at the bottom of a Black Mountain. The Lagoon stank of sulphur, but it was a welcome smell compaired to Emily´s burps! There were also hundreds of Pink Flamingo´s or as our guide named them, ´stinky pinkies´!

Red Lagoon.JPG

Next was the Desierto de Siloli, where you can see the ´stone tree´ (a lava formation).

Rock Tree.JPG

Our final night was at the Salt Hotel, next to the salt flats. Surprisingly the entire hotel was made of salt!! We had a very welcome hot shower and a comfy bed, ready for our 4.30 start the next day to catch the sunrise. We hoped that this would be early enough for Schu to make it!

Day 4

We were the first to leave and our spirits were high that we would make it onto the salt flats before sunrise! Doh! Within the first half hr we were over taken by two other 4x4!!!

At last we were on the flats, the largest salt lake in the world, and considered the size of belgium (and a whole lot more interesting). Like eager beavers we waited for the sunrise. We were not dissappointed! It was amazing! Cant put it into words so here are some pics.

Salt flat sunrise.JPG

Salt Flat Jump.JPG

After the sunrise we headed for breakfast at one of the fourteen islands formed of coral. Then we had a couple of hours to have some fun with photography! What we didnt know was that it was the day of ´no shadows´!!! And yes parents you were right we needed hats!

Salt Flat Island.JPGSalt Flat Blow off!.JPGSalt Flat Stamp.JPGPush!.JPG

Our trip ended in Uyuni, where we said goodbye to Niels and Amber (they headed off to Chile), and we put ourselves onto an overnight bus to La Paz.

Posted by robandem 12:17 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Bolovia here we come!!

It can´t be that bad.....can it?

sunny 22 °C

After three great days in Salta and with our new friends, Neils and Amber (dutch couple) in tow we headed for Bolivia. We caught a bus to the border town of `La Quiaca´, and entered Bolivia on foot with no hassle. The Bolivian border town of ´Villazon´ was, hmmmmmm, not a great introduction. Within a couple of hours we were heading for Tupiza, on a journey which should have lasted 3hrs!!! But we forgot that were in bolivia! The bus was better than we had expected (would not have looked out of place in the film ´Mad Max´) but what we were not prepared for was the so called roads, or lack of, and the fact the driver seemed to forget he was driving a bus and not a rally car! But hey we could have arrived early! Doh! After picking up what seemed half of Bolivia and cargo our bus continued on its journey... for about 2meteres! Surprisingly we had blown a tyre, so they changed if for a one of the five bald and cracked spares on the roof! Our ride now became a free trip to Alton Towers. Wicked!

We all arrived in Tupiza in one piece. Collected our rucksacks and the kilo of dust collected on route and checked into Hotel Mitru, that had warm showers and a pool. It was going to cost us the grand total of 7pounds a night for the both of us. Tupiza was a beautifull town surrounded by mountains (3600m above sea level) and friendly locals selling all sorts on the streets. Would have loved to stay here for days but a 4 day jeep adventure to the Salar de Uyuni (salt flats) were calling.

Posted by robandem 09:02 Archived in Bolivia Tagged backpacking Comments (1)

Frozen bodies

Mountain biking, Salta.

overcast 0 °C

After a couple of days in iguazu we headed for Salta, north west Argentina. Due to a faulty air con system on the bus we spent 2 hours of the jouney to salta in a bus garage. During this time we met a Dutch couple and two English lads.
Salta.JPG
Salta was a nice change from Iguazu, friendly people, beautifull churches and parks, and most of all we all found a clean comfy hostel, Hostal La Linda (meaning pretty). That night the owners took us to an amazing local steak house (and there was us thinking the steak we had in BA was big!!). The meal and wine cost us less than a ´super size bigmac meal´ in the UK. Rob loves Argentina!

We decided to get off our fat lazy bottoms and work off some of that beer and steak. All 6 of us rented bikes and headed for ´the best mountin bike ride in South America´.
Salta bike ride.JPG
We were told not to forget our suncream and a hat, not one word was said about taking a jumper! Following an early rise at 6am and a rather long bumpy ride in a dodgy bus we arrived at the top of the mountain range in the clouds (over 3400m above sea level). We now realised that our suncream and hat was not needed and our shorts and tshirts were extremely inadequate! With visibility of 3 meters and temperatures at zero we headed as fast a possible down the mountain range.

This was our first experience of the effects of altitude and lack of oxygen! The ride was mostly downhill but even the slightest of uphills would see us out of breath (ok so it could be down to all the steaks and being unfit, but we prefer to blame the altitude!) A couple of hours later and after a number of moans and frozen toilet stops we reached below the cloud level.
Mountain biking.JPG
The temperature rose and at last we could appreciate the amazing scenery and begin to understand why this ride was rated so highly. Around every bend there was picture, with amazing mountain ranges and colours! The ride should have taken 6-7hrs, but after a half hour stop for a puncture on one of the english lad bikes, disaster struck my bike(rob). After some riding in a stream the inner tube and tyre went pop!!! We tried a bodge repair but the tyre was knackered, so the rest of the ride was done very slowly. We got back to Salta late that night after an incident filled amazing bike ride! Beer all around.

Posted by robandem 07:59 Archived in Argentina Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

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