Thursday, 22 August 2013

Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

From Puno we crossed the border into Bolivia. Woohoo more stamps in the passport.

The town closest to Isla Del Sol is called Copacabana but has no resemblance to the song. We had a night is a very nice hostel and then off to the island for the day. We decided to stay on the island for one night to try and escape the rush of people trying to get across the island between boat trips. The island is beautiful and sunny with glorious views of the the Bolivia mountains. Spent the day walking the length of the island and relaxing in the sun. There are some Inca sites, which are the first we have encountered on our trip. It was a bit of a mission finding food and a place to stay because everywhere seems really expensive due to it being a tourist island. Also with the new currency everyone seems VERY expensive, until you convert it back to NZD of course.

We had one night on the island and then headed back to the mainland to get the bus to La Paz. Unfortunately in the time we had been away a festival had begun in town and the main purpose of people seems to be to come and steal stuff. We had one small bag stolen with my SLR camera in it. That is why there are not many photos for this place sorry. Luckily we still had our passports, money and credit cards and we were both ok. Was pretty annoying to have to deal with the police and stay in town another night. All in all not a good experience but we survived and have learnt from it. Still have one camera in tow and each other so we carry on............

Views from the top

Breakfast time

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Lake Titiacaca - Peru

Our visit to the Peruvian portion on Lake Titicaca included a day trip to the Uros and Taquile Islands. The Uros Islands are the famous floating islands and in line with this Puno (the closest town) is overrun by tourists and companies offering tours. As we have learnt from previous experience (Colca Canyon) you do not actually have to take a tour and is always cheaper and normally more fun to figure it out for yourself. Following this line of thinking we headed to the wharf in Puno and had a look around. We ended up getting on a community boat owned by the Taquile Islands. It always feels better to support a community effort rather than a tour company.

The boat took us to the Uros Islands for about half an hour, which is totally enough!!  Here we got an explanation, in Spanish, about how the islands are built and about the people that live on them. Time to take a few photos, look at the products the islanders are trying to sell and hop back onto the boat. It sure is a slick operation and though it is very touristy it was great to see the islands (another National Geographic experience). And as always the sun was shining!!!

Taquile Island is also set up for tourists. Everyone arrives at about 11am, has lunch (fried trout), buys some knitted garments and then leaves at about 2pm. I am sure outside of these times it is a peaceful place. The island is famous for its cloth and knitted hats etc. All the men knit and most people are wandering around or sitting gossiping and knitting at the same time. There was some dancing on when we were there but we were not sure if it was a festival or for the tourists. Either wasy they did not look like they were having a good time. The view of the mountains in Bolivia was amazing and the climate and colour of the water made me feel like we were in Europe somewhere.

All in all a fabulous day had by all in the sunshine. Stayed in Puno to enjoy the sunshine and the sights. Also eat to eat jelly. Seriously they sell jelly as a snack!!!! OMG makes me so happy. Ladies with trays walking around yelling "latinas, latinas"  yes please!!!

Onwards to Bolivia!!!!

Laguna Lagunillas, on the way to Puno

Reed boat, Uros Islands

Uros Islanders

Uros Islands

Dancing, Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Taquile Island

Puerto, Taquile Island

Enjoying latinas (jelly) at the Plaze Del Armas, Puno

Puno with Lake Titicaca in background

Gingery beard (on Bruce not me)

Colca Canyon

From Nazca we caught an overnight bus to Arequipa, where we stayed one night and then caught another bus to Cabanaconde on the edge of Colca Canyon. Another local bus, which I particularly enjoy. The trip from Arequipa was very scenic and we were about to spot some wildlife along the way. This canyon is the second deepest in the world and is about 1200m from bottom to top (well that is how far we walked). More time at altitude and I got sick agan!! Very annoying. When we arrived there had been a few volcanic earthquakes, which had created some rock falls and closed some of the walking trails. There was another earthquake the night we were there, which freaked everyone out but was nothing to us Christchurch dwellers.

The track conditions put our walking plans on hold for a while, so we went for some walks up behind town and that was tricky enough at height! The town is surrounded by loads of amazing terraces that also seem to be built in the most unlikely places on the edge of the canyon too.

After two nights in town we headed down into the hot, dry and dusty canyon to a town at the bottom with hot springs. It did not take us long to get to the bottom accompanied by our trusty guide dog that adopted us at the top and stayed with us for the whole two days, including sleeping outside our room at the bottom of the canyon. We stayed in some rustic rooms at the bottom and enjoyed washing off the dust in the hot springs and a quick dip in the cold river (but not by Bruce). We headed of at 6am the following morning to avoid the worst of the heat while we climbed back out of the canyon. We were very hot and dusty when we arrived back at the top and VERY much enjoyed our cold coke and ice creams. Cabanaconde is a very beautiful and special place, as well as not being a big town hurrah!!, and we would have loved to stay longer.

PS on this computer the photos look really yellow and weird but hopefully the come out OK.......damn foreign computers!!

Bottom of the canyon

Canyony canyony canyon

Local taking her sheep for grazing

Enjoying a cold drink and ice cream in the plaza at the end of the walk

Scenery on the bus ride between Arequipa and Cabanaconde

View of terraces and mountians close to Cabanaconde

Bruce with Cabanaconde in background

Bruce and our trusty guide dog