Peru and Bolivia

 Superted V

Blog & Photos - September 2011

A very busy month continuing our journey through Peru and then into Bolivia. 

Peru: The first trek we did was a 3 day  trek into the Colca Canyon (see flotsam).  Thoroughly enjoyable but hard work.  We returned to Arequipa to recover for a few days before heading to Puno on Lake Titicaca - at 3830 metres above sea level, it is the highest navigable lake in the world.  According to Andean belief, the mother and father of all Incas and the sun were all born here (Sun Island).  From Puno we visited one of the reed islands (Uros) which was very touristy but interesting - each island is made of 1 meter of root then 1 meter of reeds - these are 'renewed' every 2 weeks by adding another meter of reeds.  The huts are also made of reeds and are just lifted up to put the new reed underneath!  So if you don't get on with your neighbour you can just move your house away!  On to Taquile - another of the Lake Titicaca islands - where the men do the knitting and women are the expert weavers.  Many of their customs are based around knitted hats and woven clothes!  Traditionally men wear red and white hats when they are single and red when they are married.  And different hats to denote their social status.  There are no divorces on the island - once a couple decide to get married they first of all live together for a couple of years - if after that time they are still together they get married!  The woman weaves an intricate cummerbund for her intended and the man knits a different coloured hat for himself!  Lunch here was freshly caught trout from Lake Titicaca - delicious.  Another interesting excursion took us up on to the 'altiplano' where we saw how the people here live off the land (all ploughing done by oxen) and tend herds of llamas and alpacas with bitterly cold nights.  It is up in the hills beyond the altiplano at Sillustani where the ancient tribe of the Colla people built funerary towers or chullpas.  Here they buried the nobility - always in the foetal position and with food and treasures for their journey into the next world.  Several of the towers are still standing - the outer walls made of volcanic blocks with an inner 'tomb' into which the dead were put.  In each tower there is a small opening facing east through which the ' undertaker' would crawl out and through which food and offerings would be placed every June 21st.  Whilst at Puno we had a look around the steam ship Yavari - which was brought from the UK in 1862 - see flotsam. 

Bolivia: A bus from Puno across the border into Bolivia and our first stop at the resort of Copacabana - full of backpackers and tourist shops.  However we did catch the ferry across Lake Titicaca to Isla de la Sol (Sun island) and had our first sight of Inca ruins before a 4 hour hike from the north to the south of the island - climbing to an altitude of 4100m.  Then on to La Paz with a crazy crossing of the Lake where the bus is put on a flat bed ferry powered by a 75hp outboard and a man with a long pole and the passengers are crowded into small ferries - quite hilarious but it was quite choppy and we did wonder whether the bus would make it across!  La Paz is a frenetic place where people, market stalls and traffic mix from early in the morning until late at night.  The women wear bowler hats and must be strong as oxen - everything is carried wrapped in a blanket on their backs.  Again it was hard work walking here - 3630m above sea level - never able to get enough oxygen to breathe!   We just had to do the 'Death road' cycle which was a great day out - coming down from 4640m to 1295m -  3345m of vertical decent in 64km - see flotsam.  Our next 'trek' was the Salaire de Uyuni.  To get to Tupiza in the south west where we started we took a bus then train (executive class of course - which I don't think made any difference at all) which was a dreadful journey slowly clattering along through the night!  Arriving in Tupiza we spent a couple of days walking and horse riding around the local canyons before organising a 4 day 4x4 jeep trip across the Eduardo Avaro national park and up to Uyuni and the salt flats.  A relaxing trip with stunning scenery and celebrating my birthday with a cake for breakfast on the last day  (see flotsam).  . Matt jumped off a high rock on the trip and hurt his foot so we decided to return to La Paz instead of our original plan of Sucre.  We spent a couple of resting days then booked a trip into the jungle in the north of Bolivia.  As Matt was still suffering with his foot, we chose to do a pampas instead of the jungle as there wasn't too much walking to do - just lots of river travel, anaconda hunting and piranha fishing - great fun with lots to see (see flotsam).  Our final trip was back to Peru where we had booked our 'grand finale'.  But that's for October!     

           October 2011............