South America 2010 - Facts and Information
Day by Day 4: La Paz & Lake Titicaca
Bolivia's seat of government, pre-Incan city and the world's highest navigable waterway



 Atacama Villages
 Altiplanic Lagoons

 Into Bolivia
 To S Pedro de Quemez
 Salar de Uyuni
 To Potosi
 Potosi Streets
 Potosi Churches

 To Sucre
 Sucre Streets
 Sucre Markets
 Sucre Cathedral
 Sucre Churches

 To La Paz & El Alto
 La Paz Streets
 La Paz Churches
 La Paz Museum
 To Sorata
 Altiplano Farmland
 Lake Titicaca
 Isla del Sol
 Into Peru






21 April
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.

22 April
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.

23 April
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.

24 April
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.

25 April
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.

26 April
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.

27 April
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.

28 April
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.

29 April
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.

30 April
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.

1 May
Left Hayes 0530, home about 1000.

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