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Thursday 18 Mar 2010
Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Crossing into Bolivia


Morning bus from Puno, Peru to Copacabana, Bolivia was uber-comfortable as I had quite possibly the best seat(s) on the packed bus: just behind the stairs in the upper level there was heaps of legroom, plus the seat beside me was empty.

Scenery along the way was excellent and the Boards of Canada tunes from my mp3 player only added to the atmosphere.

We arrived at the Bolivian border around 3 hours later. No problems crossing over, although we were highly encouraged by the bus attendant to change our money at a specific office on the border which "had a toilet". Wooh.. I'm sold! (he forgot that the bus from Puno also had a toilet). Clearly a nice commission setup here for the bus company. I changed $20 just to have SOME Bolivian cash, and then I'd change the rest once I arrived at Copacabana and got a better rate. The rate at the border was 6.9 ... in Copa I got 7 ... not much difference tbh.

On arriving at Copacabana (2nd time I've been at a place with such a name!... and every time, the damn song enters my head!) I had a nice lunch of Tikicaca truncha (trout) for about $2 and then onto the boat to Isla del Sol. I bought my ticket at the port itself, and it only cost B$ 10 ($1.20).

Bolivia was already proving to be as cheap as it's famed to be.

Boat to Isla del Sol showed us the first views of the Cordillero Real: a stunning snow-covered series of peaks in the near-distance. A constant fresh breeze blows off these mountains across Lake Titicaca which is why it gets so damned cold at night (about 0C - 2C).

On arriving at Isla del Sol we had to pay an entrance fee for the island (I would later discover that there would be biletos for visiting various parts of the island, but these could be avoided by approaching the areas later on in the day as I discovered the next day...), and then there was a HUGE uphill trek to the main town center. Everyone was struggling. It's hard enough to carry around 30kg on your back at 3,200 metres altitude, but to then have to tackle a huge staircase for 40 mins is exhausting. Not only that, but you're prey for every hostel-tout who line the staircase trying to convince you that the pain will end if you go to their nearby hostel.

I persevered though. I'd read that there were a nice selection of hostels up around the church area, and indeed there were a ton. All of them were completely haggable. I got offers for private rooms for as little as B$ 35 ($4.50) with shared bathroom, but the best deal was B$ 50 ($7) for a huge double-bed room with windows on 3 sides that had an INCREDIBLE view of the lake and Isla de la Luna. Breakfast included. Score! Only problem seemed to be that the woman in charge was hardly ever there. Many times I saw tourists arrive and then wander off when no response came. Clearly she needs a course in "how to be greedy and run a business properly".

The Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna islands are sacred to the Inca, who viewed them as the birthplace of the Inca.

That night I had dinner under a milky-way sky chatting to an English guy who saved up for his trip to SA by taking part in medical trials. Apparently you can get $800 per week doing this. Only problem he encountered was a life-threatening infection.

Hmm there's one way to get a holiday quickly!

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South America Twenty Ten

Travel blog by peterforan



After previously dipping my toes in Latin America via trips to Cuba and Central America, it's time to go for the big splash! 3 1/2 months to take in as much as I can, armed with little more than my camera, laptop and a few dodgy Spanish phrases.

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  • Random...

    Lake Titicaca


    Random tornado over the Lake
  • Cordillero...

    Lake Titicaca


    Cordillero Real from Isla de la Luna
  • Isla de la...

    Lake Titicaca


    Isla de la Luna temple ruins
  • Isla del Sol...

    Lake Titicaca


    Isla del Sol temple ruins