Dates: 16-25 January 2014
DAYS 74-76: “Beautiful Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni” (16-18 Jan)
We were fetched for our Uyuni tour from our hostel early bells and made our way to the Bolivian border. This was a painless exercise except for the fact that it was FREEZING cold! Nobody warned us about the snow. Tricky when you only have 2 pairs of leggings and 2 long sleeve tops…we’d packed for the beach. Anyway we put our brave face on, hoped our blood would thicken quickly and had some breakie with our tour-mates. Our tour consisted of two 4×4’s with 6 in one and 5 in the other. We were put in Lorenzo’s jeep along with Floris from Holland and 3 guys from Chile, Matias, James and Augustine. Lorenzo and the boys loaded our backpacks on the roof racks of the 4×4 and we all piled in ready for our adventure. Nothing could prepare us for the day we had ahead of us. We were treated to some of the most spectacular scenery we’ve ever seen. We stopped at 4 lagoons, each different and stunningly beautiful, Dali’s Valley in the desert, the hot springs (to have our bath for the day as the hostel we were staying in that night had no showers) and the geysers. The things we saw were well worth dealing with the freezing cold and altitude (the highest point of the day was the geysers at 4900m). We got to our hostel at around 4pm which was very basic but provided everything we needed. The 6 of us were all in the same room making for an entertaining nights sleep…poor Tam was struggling with the altitude and didn’t get much sleep was treated to a chorus of snoring and farting from the boys!! Delightful…
Lorenzo woke us up early the next day for day 2 of our adventure. It had snowed lots during the night providing more magnificent scenery for us to take in. We stopped at the “Stone Tree” which you can only get to at certain times of the year when there’s not gale force winds whistling through the desert. This wind erosion has caused a rock to look like a tree. We then drove through the desert which was covered in snow making for some slightly (ok let’s not lie, VERY) nerve-wracking descents down would be sandy dunes. Our next step was Charcota lagoon where we bumped into our Brazilian friends. We saw a further 2 lagoons before stopping at Rock Valley where the concord rock is. We got to our hostel in the afternoon and were treated to a twin room this time.
We had an even earlier start the next day but we didn’t mind as it was the day we were going to see Uyuni de Salar. Our first stop on our way there was the Train Cemetery where we had some fun pretending we were little kids on jungle gyms and then we hit the salt flats. We knew that at this time of year there would be water on the flats as it’s the rainy season and we’d heard that this makes for some unforgettable views as the salt flats turn into a giant mirror reflecting everything. We were not disappointed. Once again, a picture is worth a thousand words and we can’t do justice to what we saw with prose so take a look at these…
After having our photo shoot on the salar we ended in the town of Uyuni where we had to wait 4 hours for our night bus to La Paz.
DAYS 77-80: “Loko in La Paz” (19-22 Jan)
We arrived in La Paz (the highest capital city in the world at 4100m) after a pretty horrific 13 hour overnight bus ride…there were no toilets or seat belts and the road was like driving on the moon. Sarah was also a victim of crime…she woke up to find her toilet paper had been nicked. It seems in Bolivia that toilet paper is a precious commodity. Loki was the hostel we had pre-booked and we arrived at around 10am, only to be told that check-in was at 2pm. Not great news as we were exhausted but we soldiered on and went to El Alto market with some English and Australian girls we’d met at breakie in the hostel. Having spent the last 3 days freezing, we were on a mission to find some warm alpaca gear. El Alto market is the biggest market in the world so we were pretty sure we’d find some great knitwear there. Oh how wrong we were!! Being the biggest market in the world and none of us speaking Spanish we couldn’t even find the alpaca section…if we’d been looking for meat, plumbing and electrical equipment, carpentry, hardware, cars, shoes and even buses however we’d have been spoilt for choice. After 3 torturous hours of pushing through this packed, massive market we all lost our senses of humour and decided to cut our losses and head back to the hostel…empty handed :( We got back to the hostel around 4pm and checked in to our 8 bed mixed dorm. Met our new roommates for the next couple days; Justin from New York and Thomaz and Mathias from Brazil (the rest were random and we didn’t really engage much).
The next day we headed to the Witches Market a mere 10 minute walk from our hostel and got some amazing alpaca jerseys. We then did the free walking tour of La Paz which was phenomenal. All the free walking tours that we’ve been on have been very entertaining and informative – we highly recommend you joining in on them when you see them. One of the most interesting parts of this tour was learning about San Pedro prison. We suggest you read a book called “Marching Powder” by Rusty Young to discover for yourself just how crazy this place really is. We ended the day by having a quiet drink in the hostel bar which seemed to escalate quite quickly…oh dear, the dangers of drinking at altitude.
Our debaucherous antics did not leave us in good stead for the following day where we had an 8am bus tour to Chacaltaya and Moon Valley. Let’s just say that we did not enjoy this tour as much as we probably should have. It didn’t help that we went up to 5300m…enough for anyones head to feel like it’s about to burst without the hangover.
We left La Paz for Copacabana on the 22nd excited to see Lake Titicaca (hehe!)
DAYS 80-82 : “Copacabana” (22-24 Jan)
We arrived in Copacabana in a deluge which was not hellavah fun but we managed to find a taxi to take us to our hostel on the hill, La Capula. This quaint little hostel was a wonderful break from the craziness that was Loki hostel (in La Paz) and after a massive meal we spent the day re-charging our batteries. We spent 2 days in Copacabana which was more than enough as there’s not a great deal to do in this lake town.
DAYS 82-83: “Isla del Sol” (24-25 Jan)
We’d heard that a good thing to do was check out Isla del Sol so being the obedient ladies that we are we went to see it. We took a boat from Copacabana early in the morning to the northern part of Isla del Sol. We saw the ruins and then started our 3 hour walk to the south of the island. We were spoilt with a beautiful day giving us a glimpse of what the Inca’s admired from this island of the sun. We had booked accommodation on the island for the night at Intakala Hostel. We had a romantic drink at Los Velas while watching the sunset over Lake Titicaca…how sweet. We got the boat back to Copacabana the next day and then waited for our Huayrar night bus to Cusco (Peru).