Vladimir turned up yet again to take us to airport (he assured
us he would not be with us in La Paz). Easy checkin (departure
tax must be paid in Bolivianos). Passengers went through sensitive
scanning routine but carry-on bags were not scanned or even looked
at. Arrived at La Paz met by porter at baggage reclaim who took
us out to meet our new guide called Vladimir, but a different
one! Drove through El Alto with stops for view over La Paz on
way down. Went to archaeological museum next to hotel but it
was shut, returned to hotel as clouds looked very threatening.
Hotel Europa, La Paz Not really our sort of hotel but we had a very
comfortable and well-sized room. Breakfasts good and available
early. We avoided the gourmet restaurant and used the bistro
for dinner which gave a good range of well-cooked, good value
food. (We found it advisable to order the Bolivian specialities
'poco picante', not sure if that was good Spanish but it achieved
the aim of keeping our tonsils intact). Staff all very helpful,
English excellent on front desks but limited elsewhere.
City tour. Started off with cathedral and main square then Calle
Jean (restored street). After that to El Alto for most amazingly
large market which took over the whole town centre. Back to La
Paz to wander through Max Peredes market area and lunch. In afternoon
drove out to Palca Canyon, good views there but not worth the
travel time. On way back to hotel called at Montacute Park for
view across city. El Alto visit excellent but rest of day did
not really deliver.
Full day trip to Tiwanaku. Drive out through El Alto slow, pretty
run through fertile country with scattered farms. Brief visit
to Laja. Tiwanaku interesting but disappointing as we hadn't
realised how little had been excavated. Pre-Incan field systems
fascinating. Picnic lunch in restaurant in village.
Free day in La Paz. Walked up Prado to San Francisco and looked
in church then zig-zagged our way gently back to hotel via main
square. Called in at cathedral, Ethnographic Museum (not a lot
in there but what there is is interesting - no English signing
- also has free loos) and a few churches where weddings were
in full swing.
Back through El Alto (again) on way to Sorata. Called in at Achacacha,
large village with big market. Drive to pass and down to Sorata
very impressive. Sorata small town with small market. Had picnic
lunch outside restaurant on square. On to Gruta San Pedro, a
long and scenically superb drive along a dirt road. Cave not
worth it (but drive certainly was). Very hot and humid in cave,
rock polished and quite slippery in places - underwhelmed, although
cave is big. On to hotel on shore of Lake Titicaca. Visited Kellaway
Museum on site, quite interesting. Met real kellaway (shaman)
but felt this a tourist offering. Went to observatory, telescopes/views
of stars not as good as at San Pedro de Atacama but information
on local zodiac good. Inca Utama Hotel and Spa, Huatajata
Not quite sure what to make of this place. We arrived quite late
so didn't see much of the outside in daylight, it was also a
bit spooky as we were the only people stopping there that night.
Room was adequate if a bit on the small side. Dinner good, breakfast
adequate. Staff friendly, level of English not obvious. Observatory
visit a bit of a non-event (but we had experienced an excellent
evening at the observatory in Chile) although information on
traditional zodiac was interesting. Museum so-so, Shaman touristy.
Andean eco-village disappointing.
Boarded hydrofoil at hotel, visit to floating island interesting
but bit of a staged event for tourists. Onto Isla de la Luna
to visit temple. Return to hydrofoil to go to Isla del Sol, disembarked
at Pilko Kanya but luggage taken onto Yumani to be taken to hotel.
Climbed (very hot and altitude got us puffed, passed another
person who was clearly very distressed) past Inca building to
path to hotel, about two hours in all. Late lunch and then spent
couple of hours exploring paths through terraces. In evening
went with Vladimir through village to see sunset from other side
of island. Posada del Inca, Isla del Sol Incredibly
atmospheric and peaceful place on an amazing island. Room reasonably
sized and adequate but tended to be cool due to shading by trees,
bathroom cold (fan heater a bit feeble but effective after a
while and if cunningly positioned over dinner could get bathroom
to reasonable temperature). Dinners and lunches good (but desserts
poor), breakfast fine. Staff very helpful and pleasant with variable
English. Overall a quite excellent place to drop out.
Decided just wanted to wander so got some rolls for lunch and
set off along path to north going where our fancy took us among
the terraces. Island amazing place, very quiet with no traffic.
Sat and had lunch watching villagers lifting potatoes. Went back
to hotel to lie in shade (very hot day although breeze off lake
could be cool) then took path south for a bit.
Morning pottering in fields then down steep steps to harbour
for lunch and hydrofoil to Copacabana. Bus into town, left passports
with driver to get exit stamps. Town scruffy and definitely Tourist
Central, but square pleasant and cathedral interesting. Should
have gone on by bus to Puno but some locals in Peru had been
blockading road so back to hydrofoil which took us to Juli in
Peru (where we had to don life jackets while the Peruvian Navy
inspected the vessel). Transfer stopped in Juli to see San Pedro
Cathedral (interesting) then on along shore of lake, very different
feel and landscape to what we had seen earlier. Arrived in Puno
and taken to immigration office to get passports stamped (no
customs except for commercial vehicles) before going to hotel.
Casa Andina Private Collection, Puno Another hotel
not really to our taste (and full of tourists of the type that
are even less so). Rather busy but pleasant Reception. Huge and
very comfortable bed made room a bit cramped, nice to have a
kettle. Lake view underwhelming (were on ground floor with terrace
outside window). Good breakfast available early. Dinner menu
not to our taste but items from room service menu willingly provided
in dining room. Staff good with good English.
Early start, just about to get out of bed at 0500 when power
failed. Fortunately could grope torch in suitcase which helped
to see to get dressed. Went to breakfast where dawn giving some
light supplemented by torch, power returned. Transfer to Juliaca
airport for flight to Lima. Had to spend several hours in lounge
at airport as we had evening flight.
Uneventful flights to Madrid and on to London. Picked up car
(after some delay waiting for bus at airport) to go to Premier
Inn, Hayes for night.
Left Hayes 0530, home about 1000.