A Travellerspoint blog

Copacabana

sunny

Having booked our bus to pick us up outside our Hostel to Copacabana, we calmly waited, thinking, that with everything esle in Bolivia, this bus was going to be late. However, it was on time, and we were away very quickly. it was a great feeling being on the move again.

The bus drove up through the moutains for our short bus journey to Copacabana (3-4 hours) and I have to say, it was rather an enjoyable ride. very picturesque.

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At one point, we had to get a ferry across the lake. Which was an experience, just because our little bus, with all our bags on it was sailing on a very dubious looking raft next to us and a man was chucking out buckets of water as he sailed along. we thought it was all over then. haha

But all turned out fine, and us and Bus made it across in one pieces.

Then onwards to Copacabana.

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Copacabana was a very welcome stop for us. Its very pretty, and has a real chilled out holiday kind of feel to it. Plus if you like walking, you will like it here. we walked up a huge hill, and i swear i could taste my lungs after it.

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Copacabana is the very close to the border town of Yunguro and is also the setting off place to visit Isla Del Sol, which was an Island very dear to the Inca's.

We took a little boat the next day to Isla del Sol. The boat journey there is about 1hr 30 mins, and i was a little worried i might be sick, but it was actually a really enjoyable ride.

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The views were out of this world.

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We only had a short amount of time on the Island, and quickly tried to walk all the way to the top of the hill to get some fab photos. It was knackering, but well worth it. Although, when we sat down for a mini break, we realised our time was nearly up and we had to get to boat pretty darn speedy like, so we dashed down all the steps, and made it in the nick of time.

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Our Boat journey back was very nice, I plugged in and got a few more shots of the lovely views.

Unfortuanatlety, the journey was somewhat ruined by 2 very Terminator looking German dudes who kept staring, I didn't know where to look, and was thankful when the boat docked and we set off to find some food. Sadly, when we finally decided on a place to eat, we walked in and low and behold, scary scarison and his pal were sat there too, and we had no chance to make a runner for the door. Luckily thats the last we saw of them...so far!

The next day, we set off for the border crossing. We had arranged for a bus to pick us up in Copacabana amd take us to the border, where we would get stamped out of Bolivia and into Peru, then the bus would take us on to Puno.

However.... the Bus did not arrive, and the man we had bought our tickets from was a no show. I was starting to get a bit panicked (as you can imagine from me.) but soon the man finally decided to turn up and gave us the border forms to fill out, which was rather reassuring. But still no bus!!!!

Then a taxi pulled up and a load of men were pointing at it to us. we were very confused. It escalated that the man was so late that our bus had left without us, so we were getting a taxi to the border, and meeting the bus there. You never know how these things are gonna turn out - you just have to put your full trust in these people - and luckily all went well from there and before we knew it we were out of Bolivia and into Peru!

Posted by Lisaann 13:52 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

La Paz

sunny

Well....

After waiting to collect our bus tickets to La Paz at Uyuni till the very last minute, we were finally sat on the bus ready to go. Lets just say that the buses in Bolivia are quite different to those in Argentina. Still the seats went back, so i guess i cannot complain too much.

Because we had been waiting for our tour lady to give us the bus tickets, i did not manage to get to go to the loo before our bus journey, and i was bursting even before we got to the bus, so as you can imagine, i was not a happy bunny. Once the bus finally moved (30 mins later than scheduled) we headed off on what can only be described as the most torrid journey of my life. The road was a thin gravel road, and just ditches at either side. (there were quite a few cars that had fallen prey to those ditches along the way.) So anyway, that was one issue, but the main isue was that it was so bumpy it was worse than being on a plane with extreme turbulance, plus my ears kept popping the whole way, and all this bouncing up and down was playing havoc with my bladder. This whole expereinec lasted for about 5 hours.

During the time, the bus stopped, which I hoped meant I could get off to go to the loo, but some vile fat specimen of a man was lying on the bus floor, and when I asked him to move, he looked up at me and said ´NO!´ There were so many words I could have used at him, but i restrained myself and went back to my seat, bladder aching.

About 1 hour later, the bus stopped again, and i was taking no prisoners, the vile man was now fully asleep on the filthy bus floor, so I walked over him, making sure I stepped on him in a delicate region. And finally, I was able to pee.! WHAT A RELIEF!! Now i could finally try and get some sleep.

So around 7am we arrived in La Paz.

Las paz is a city to be seen. The City sits between mountians as if in a bowl shape, and the outer edge/hills of the city is covered in buildings, it is difficult to explain, but it is truly amazing.

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La Paz is 3660m above sea level, so to say the altitude got to me a bit is an understatement.

The first day, we finally got into our hostel room, and had a kip and a shower. Then we headed out in search of a supermarket to get some food.

The supermarket is right on the other side of the city, and at the time we were going, trying to get a taxi is a no no, so we walked. At that time i was fine, but when we got into the supermarket, it was boiling. it wasn´t long till i was sitting in the fruit and veg section feeling faint.

And then it just got worse! The whole way back i though i was literally gonna die. Feeling sick, weak, faint, and like my head was going to explode, and not one taxi would take us back to the hostel. Every time one stopped, and we tell them where we wanted to go they said no and drive off. I have never wanted to cry so much.

Somehow, and i am really not sure how, we managed to climb the hill back up to our hostel. It must have taken a good few hours to trudge back, and the last thing i wanted was food.

When i got back to the room, i literally collapsed on the bed in a heap. When i finally had the energy to get up i went to the bathroom to spray some cold water on my face, and saw that my face was as red as a tomato. It stayed like that all night.

The next day, feeling much better and refreshed and loaded with pancakes, tea and water, i was ready to take La Paz on.

We went to ´Gringo Alley´ which is basically where all the little shops and market stalls are that sell alpaca everything and other such treasures. They also have a witches market where you can buy very strange things such as Llama Foetus´s which the locals put under their porches for good luck. anyone fancy one? haha

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There is also the Coca Museum, which we paid a visit to. it was a warm welcome to me, not just because it was interesting, but because it is so hot outside, and i was worried i would have another breakdown. Inside it was lovely and cool, and to sit and just read about the history of coca was great.

You really do realise what sods the western folk were to these people. for example, the catholic church at first tried to eradicate coca, but when they realised it made the slaves work longer, they were happy to keep it on. For a time coca was worth more than gold or silver, and therefore the western folk forbid the indigenous ppl to have it, grow it, anything. nowdays, even though it grows in this region, America, Germany, the UK and a few other countries are allowed to trade coca, Bolivia and Peru are not even though it is from there.

So after the coca museum, we strolled though the streets looking for cheap goodies, and I had a few feeble attempts at bartering. i walked away with a few treasures, all cheaper than quoted, but i´m sure if i was more abrupt i could have done better. oh well. i am pleased with my items none the less.

The next day, Fiona´s other pair of jeans ripped in the crotch, and so our mission for more jeans began all over again. after what can only be considered a freezing shower... we headed out.

We had read there was any area close to Gringo Alley that sold fake designer clothes, so with our fingers crossed we headed there only to be confronted with the most hideous chavvy looking clothes ever. MK market sold better quality goods. and the ppl were so rude, in some shops the women point blank refused to serve us, and when we walked away they would giggle and laugh to themselves, i hope karma comes and bites them in the butt.

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After many a failed attempt to find a pair of jeans just right for fi we decided to search on the other side of town. we found a really pretty square, but alas we could not go and sit down, because there was a sea full of pigeons. and Fi is terrified of them. I took some crazy pics of people looking like the bird woman in Mary Poppins.

We strolled further and managed to get some great pics of the city.

and finally on our way back we found some second hand stores and lo and behold the perfect pair of jeans for Fi! RESULT!!!

That night we decided we would go out. well at first we thought we would go and get some drinks in the hostel bar, only to find it closed, and eager not to hang around like lemons, we went to the other side of town, to an irish bar. The bar aside from bearing the traditional irish colours and playing music from the corrs, U2 and possibly westlife, was not as Irish as Fi had hoped, but still had a good atmosphere and the non- english speaking waiter was a cutie which was a perk. Still we had a nice evening there, drinking a bolivian beer called Bock and chatting. and avoiding eye contact with a couple that spent the whole eveing literally eating eachother, I´m surprised there was anything left of them by the time they left.

After the irish bar, we decided to head to the elusive ´Mongo´s´which is apparently Gringo central. We were hopeful we might meet some nice travellers wih some interesting stories. However... Mongo´s is more like the kind of clubs you go to when you are a teenager, everyone out for one thing, and Fi and I realised we were really too old for this kind of thing. Still we were there and decided we might as well have a laugh, so we danced and jumped about to the awful music and got chatting to some randoms. I made ´friends´ with some Agentinians, one a student studying German in Bolivia (odd combination..) and the others were footballers. I was close to telling them that footballers don´t do it for me and that I´m a tennis girl all the way, but they were such eager little puppies, i decided to play nice. Plus Fiona had deserted me to mess around with 2 Brazilian best friends, so my hands were tied.

The Argentinians kept begging me to go back to theirs for coffee, but i declined, and they went all huffy saying i was not a nice person... oh well.

The night eventually ended and Fi and I headed back to the Hostel.

The next day was spent recovering. It is very clear i am not a big drinker as i swear it takes a good few days to get over nights like that.

We are off to Copacabana on tuesday, going to the Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca, and then on to Puno in Peru to see the floating Islands in Lake Titicaca. I´m very excited because we will be seeing some amazing thing, and at the moment i am very much over the polluted mess of La Paz.

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Posted by Lisaann 10:06 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Salar De Uyuni

sunny

So after much deliberation we chose our one day tour to the Salar de Uyuni (the Salt Flats). Also we booked a seat on an overnight bus to La Paz. 11 hours on a bus,woo hoo.

We were promised breakfast with our tour to the salt flats, and after a small hassle finally settled down to an odd breakfast of bread, jam and a fried egg. I certainly was not complaining though and quickly tucked in.

Our jeep for the tour was expected to arrive at 11am, and although a little late we were soon on the long, very bumpy, very dusty road to the incredible salt flats.

The day would have been perfect had it not been for some americans and one spanish lady on our bus. boy do they know how to yap... LOUDLY! and not only that, but in Sapnish also, so we had no idea what was going on. Plus the yank girl, was chewing and popping gum the whole way like it was going out of fashion. These yanks really do live up to their name.

First stop on the road was a little village town, just off of the salt flats. It was built purposely for the workers who make the salt, and they gave us a little explanation and tour of how they dry the salt and pack it up, also telling us how cheap the salt was to buy. The yanks, being yanks and over-excited decided they wanted to buy a few bags of salt.... i could not see the point really, what would i do with a bag of salt on my travels?

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Aside from a few little shops to keep the gringa´s and gringo´s happy, there was nothing else around this little place to keep us happy, so we quickly headed off.

It took about an hour to finally get to an island in the middle of the salt flats, which was formed of just rock and about a million catus´s. We walked around the island and climbed to the top, puffing and panting, but taking in the amazing scenery was well worth all the hard graft. It was like being on the moon or something. Completely otherworldly!

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Once we climbed down (thank goodness for my walking boots!) we had lunch, and made the effort to chat to our not so friendly and very annoying companions for the day. Luckily for me I have the patience of a saint, Fi on the other hands was very nearly pulling her hair out.

Then we headed off to take some pictures...

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A little bit of info about the salt flats..

is the world's largest salt flat at 10,582 square kilometers (4,086 sq mi). It is located in the Potosí and Oruro departments in southwest Bolivia, near the crest of the Andes, and is elevated 3,656 meters (11,995 ft) above the mean sea level.The Salar was formed as a result of transformations between several prehistoric lakes. It is covered by a few meters of salt crust, which has an extraordinary flatness with the average altitude variations within one meter over the entire area of the Salar. The crust serves as a source of salt and covers a pool of brine, which is exceptionally rich in lithium.

after a great time wondering around, our driver came to collect us to take us on the next part of our trip - to the Salt Museum...which turned out to be closed, but it was nice to get out and explore for a bit.

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Soon the sun was setting and our day was nearly over. Last stop on the tour was to the Train cemetary, a little way outside of the town Uyuni. It was eery and provided me some great pictures, the sun setting in the background, just added to the effect. We actually have no idea what the trains were doing there and why they are no longer in action..something i think i will have to read up on.

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Once back into Uyuni, we headed back to our warm hotel and popped out for a smoothie and bite to eat, and then bed. we want to get as much sleep as possible before our long lug up to La Paz which comences at 8pm tonight.

  • After 2 hours trying to upload my pics, the computer crashed, so i am greatly peeved off!!!!!!

Chau Uyuni

Posted by Lisaann 11:53 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Uyuni

and the train ride...

sunny 10 °C

As Fi and I shuffled our belongings around on the train to try and get ourseleves as comfy as poss for the journey ahead, we realsied we had not brought any food or drink with us. uh-ohh!

Lets first describe the train, it moves at a snails pace, very old fashioned, but at least the seats moved back. I will put it on a par with London Midland, only because London Midland would for sure get you to your destination a lot quicker, but for comfort, it really was not bad at all.

Of course, thats making that judgement at the start of the journey, by the end it was getting very nuch like London Midland in Rush hour, cramped and very uncomfortable.

A man came round with some food, so we took some, a little concerned about how were gonna pay, all i had was 60 bolivianos from the ticket change eekk. But the food was fab, never have i had a roast chicken, rice, proper chips and salad in a train journey. The quality wasquite frankly unbelievable. Of course this added to our worry that it would be quite pricey, and when he came for the money, it worked out to be 54 bolivianos for both of us,and the sod ran off with my change, so there was no way we could get a drink. and my throuat was feeling worse and worse as time went by.

When we finally arrived in Uyuni at 12am, it was FREEZING!! we grabbed our bags and went on the hunt for a bed for the night. In Fi´s guidebook, Hotel Avenida had been rcomended as being cheap with hot showers. we took the plunge, desperate fpr water, and a bed to just curl up and fall asleep in. The lady at the hotel let us in, ad we were so thankful. they even took US Dollars which was a relief. we really had to get money quick, i do not want to use up my US Dollars, as you never know when they will come in handy again.

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As we headed to our room, and found 2 decent sized beds waiting for us, we heaved a sigh of relief - only to see that our breath was visibale in the room. It was FREEZING! i am not kidding, it was warmer outside. Getting into bed was like walking naked into a freezer, and the pillow was like cold concrete. and for some reason, the night did not get better, it just got colder. i was wearing several layers, but was frozen in a ball under the covers, that also stank of ciggies. It was not accomodation that i could stand for another night.

Once morning broke, and the sun shone through the curtains, we thought, maybe things will warm up, but they never did, and with the lack of fluids, and the cold, i am having a horrid feeling that i am coming down qith something.

We showered, which, i will admit was lovely and hot, but considering my icy frozen skin, it was like defrosting a chicken with boling hot water..crack! finally i warmed though, only to have to enter the frozen coldness of the room to get changed. that room never got warmer, in fact, i think it may have got colder as the sun came up. it was AWFUL. We headed out for breakfast, and to find some more accomodation, another night in that chiller was a no no, my health is more important to me than money right now.

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We found a nice breakfast place that did a full English, and i had 2 massive cups of Orange juice and a hot chocolate to defrost those frozen cockles of mine.

We booked into Hoetl Julia which is next door to Avenida, and is more expensive - but guess what! they had a radiator, that works. we checked out the room first, and the warmth hit us like nothing before. we took it in a flash. never have the little things in life been so rewarding!

We went back to the other hotel and packed our belongings. Even in the space of 5 mins in that room, my fingers cenched up from the cold. I swear that trip up the mountains in Mendoza was not as cold as this room. is was horrendous, and I am so glad i do not have to go back there.

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We have booked our tour to see the salt flats, which i have very high hope for. it looks amazing. and also a night bus to La Paz which gets us into La Paz at 7am on weds. I acnñt wait. A night bus is a warm warm welcome from that fridge freezer of a hotel.

I also bought mysel a little alpaca pocho and some colourful gloves. So cheap and soft and warm. Can´t wait to get to La Paz to start bartering for more alpaa jems!

Posted by Lisaann 13:23 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Villazon

Bolivia

sunny

Border crossing was so easy, i swear going through customs back at heathrow will be much worse! they stamped us out of Argentina and we joined a que to get stamped into Bolivia. It was simple, and we were able to jump the que and were officially in Bolivia in about 10-15 mins.

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Now all we had to do was walk to the train station to get our train to Uyuni. Our train didn´t depart until 3.30pm, so we had a lot of time to kill.

Once we finally trudged up the road to the train station, very much out of breath, we found that the ticket office was not open. so we found a little cafe bar just across the road, and decided to just chill for the forthcoming hours.

As we sat down, another traveller entered the room, he was spanish from Barcelona, and his name was Alex, but we have decided to give him the endearing nickname of spanny. we found it suited him far better. He proved himself to be quite handy as he spoke spanish. Also, like us, he had not got any accomodation booked for Uyuni, so we had another pal to hang with to search for a bed for the night. we were due to arrive in Uyuni for 11.50pm. arrggghhh!!!

We also met a nice belgian couple, who were taking the train up to Oruro, and they would not get in to Oruru until 6am ish. I did not envy them.

When the ticket office had finally opened, we headed over with our US dollars and Argentinian peso, in hope we could pay with these, as the bank was closed. Sadly, this was not to be, and the ticket man, took our passports and left them to one side with our tickets and told us we had to exchange our money on the street! Yikes!

We walked out into the sunhine thinking ´oh crap, what we gonna do!!´ but out of nowhere a kindly man offered to exchange $30 USD for some Bolivianos. He went with us up to the ticket man, and i have to admit, i was a little dubious, but he proved himself true to his word, got our tickets and passports, and left us. phew...

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We headed back to the cafe, and they were all watching Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers. I was a happy lady.

As soon as our train came, we got ourselves sat down for the long horrid journey ahead. Chau Villazon.

Posted by Lisaann 13:23 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

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