Traveling a week in high altitude exhausted me. At the end of our bus trip, we spent five days in La Paz, Bolivia. Apartments have little heat so the inside temperature never surpassed the outside highs of 16 deg centigrade (60-61 deg F). Even so, we enjoyed our time finding some unique attractions. Here are three:
Cable Car network took us all around the city.
Zebras in the Zebra crossings
A few things to note:
La Paz and the suburb El Alto have altitudes of around 4000 meters (12000 feet). La Paz airport has the highest commercial runway in the world.
Even after a week of acclimatization, I was still huffing and puffing as we walked up and down the streets and stairs.
In the autumn and winter (April – September), La Paz is dry with low humidity. We saw few clouds and felt the strong rays of the sun. I should have used more sunblock.
No matter how you arrive or encounter La Paz, it will be an amazing experience.
It seems everywhere we turned, there was an interesting view. Here is one looking down a street in our neighborhood.
With retirement, our travel is pretty casual. Mostly, we spend a month in one place, then a few short trips or maybe a week in each place along our itinerary. We learned about the long distance hop on / hop off experience in South Africa. The reviews for PeruHop were positive and provided useful details. The suggested itineraries allow for a thorough Peruvian experience in seven or eight days. We ended up spending 14 days by stopping at every city for two or three days. What an incredible two weeks.
Our trip consisted of eight different buses from Lima, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia. For me it was the trip of a life time. Forty years ago, I was in Santos, Brazil planning a trip by train from Sao Paulo to Bolivia. This had to be cancelled when my stomach aches required an immediate operation for appendicitis (sometime, I need to blog about our adventures getting sick on the road). I was never able to schedule a journey to Bolivia until this trip.
There is so much variety and so much to see in Peru and later Bolivia that we ended up with a million photos. All of them are fascinating. I post one or two from each place attempting to show a variety of experience, not necessarily the most perfect photos. A couple of notes: Links are provided to the Wikipedia explanations. Second: I will use the word “Quechua” as opposed to “Inca” to refer to the Andean empire and culture of the 1400s to 1600s.
The city is famous for its bay and beaches. PeruHop includes a tour of the National Reserve highlighting the desert dunes and the natural cliffs along the coast. The natural reserve of the Ballestas Islands features sea lions, penguins and other natural diversity similar to the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador.
Sunset over the bay
Red sand beach marks the beginning of desert that extends to Chile
Wine country in the middle of the desert. The grape juice is distilled to make Pisco brandy. There is a small natural history museum which has a few amazing artifacts from the early cultures discovered here. There were quite a few visitors as it was free Sunday for Peruvians. Nice to see the excitement of the children. Sorry, no photographs allowed.
Historically spelled Nazca, now officially Nasca is famous for the lines etched into the desert depicting animals and astrological markings. In 1996, the city was devastated by a 7.5 earthquake. Wife experienced her first earth tremor when a 5.5-6.0 earthquake occurred about 80 km away.
Nasca Lines from plane
and from the tower
A cactus farm, straight as a Minnesota cornfield
There are many interpretations of the Nasca Lines. My theory is the that the straight ones were created to identify seasons when rain is likely. The pictures are pranks made by teenagers tired of redrawing the straight lines in the desert one more time.
Our bus left Nazca at 7 PM arriving at 5 AM the next morning. This was the only overnight we took. It was comfortable enough but it might have been interesting to see the curving roads from the coast. This begins the real mountainous region with Arequipa at 2335 meters (7661 feet) above sea level. Still desert climate, this marked the farthest south we went. There is a strong influence of Spain in the architecture. During the colonial period, Arequipa was one of the most loyal cities to Spain. Extinct (for now) volcanoes dominate the Northern skyline.
Misti Volcano viewed from the Iron Bridge designed by Eifel
Chachani Volcano seen beyond the Chili River
Detail from the 16 the Century Church of the Compania
Tambo de Bronce: Traditional Pasage and Market area of the 1700s
We left Arequipa at 6 AM heading toward Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The air was thinner as we crossed the divide near Lagunillas at 4400 meters (14400 feet) and it began to getting colder. The Puno side of Lake Titicaca is famous for its floating islands made of stacked reeds in a crisscross method. The sensation is like walking across a marsh.
Huts on the floating islands powered with Solar energy today
A reminder that Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially navigatable lake (3,812 m / 12,507 ft) since 1873
On the eastern shore of lake Titicaca, the village of Copacabana is dominated by the Basilica of our Lady of Copacabana. The name may come from Quechu, “Kotakawana” the God of fertility who ruled in Lake Titicaca. The basilica is located on the site of the original temple. We arrived by BoliviaHop after getting our visas at the border. For US citizens it’s complicated with copies of passport, itinerary, hotel reservations along with U$S 160. Since Wife and I have different last names, they weren’t sure about the hotel reservations that only mentioned a double room with only my name.