A Travellerspoint blog

La Paz

An Unremarkable Stay in the Highest Capital City in the World

Danny and I debated whether or not to put a post on La Paz mainly because there really isn't much to say about this city. Compared to all the other South American cities we have been to, La Paz doesn't really quite stand out (we now understand why so many people we met opted to skip through La Paz and head straight to Uyuni). I guess unless you were planning on biking Death Road or climbing any of the 20,000 ft peaks nearby (which we weren't interested in doing on this trip), there really isn't much appeal to staying in La Paz haha.

We ended up spending 3 days in La Paz (but that was only because we couldn't get a bus out) and managed to book a tour of the salt flats, as well as all our transfers through Bolivia to Argentina.

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Christmas Festivities at San Francisco Plaza at night

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Street Market

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Witches Market (check out the creepy goats hanging in the doorway)

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Plaza Murillo

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Presidential Palace

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Other random buildings

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Jaen Street - the best preserved colonial street where you can find museums

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Panoramic view from Mirador Killi Killi

Posted by TravellingFries Wed 20 Mar 2013 18:26 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Lake Titicaca

The Peruvian Side vs. the Bolivian Side

After New Years, Danny and I headed to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca and to eventually cross the border to Bolivia. The lake is actually situated on the border between Peru and Bolivia, and by volume of water, it is the largest lake in South America. According to Incan mythology, Lake Titicaca was the birth place of the first Incan King, Manco Capac.

Puno - the Peruvian side
The city of Puno was slightly disappointing. In my head I pictured a small, quaint little town overlooking a gorgeous shimmering blue lake, with a boardwalk or at least benches for people to sit by the lake. I was clearly misguided because when we got there, it could not be further from the image in my head. The city wasn't quaint at all. And there was definitely no boardwalk or a quiet spot by the lake. The lake was littered with a thousand boats, polluting the air with the smell of diesel. And there was garbage along the lake front - definitely not what I had in mind. We only stayed in Puno long enough to do a half day tour of the Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca. The Uros Islands are artificially created islands made of tying totora reeds together. The tour was actually quite interesting but how long can you look at reeds for? Haha. By the end of the 3 hours, we were ready to move on.

Town of Puno
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Uros Island Tour
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Copacobana - the Bolivian side
After the Uros tour, we hopped on a bus and 3 hrs later, we were in Bolivia! We read that the Copacobana side of Lake Titicaca was prettier than Puno, but we did not notice (if its better it was only marginally). We were so disappointed that we were going to take the next bus out and skip the main attraction - Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun). But good thing we didn't because we discovered that the beauty isn't in the town of Copacabana, but on the island (the northern part anyways). The beach was quiet and secluded, and the water was crystal clear. We did a 1 hour hike around the island and the views were gorgeous. Guess we should have stayed here instead haha.

Peru/Bolivia Border Crossing
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Town of Copacabana
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Isla del Sol Tour
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Trying to find our boat

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Approaching Isla del Sol

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Beginning of hike

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Hiking up to viewpoint

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Farming community

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Amazing views! We should have stayed here!

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Pre-Incan Ruins

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More Views

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Donkey literally flipping out

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Hiking back down

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Southern part of Isla del Sol - not nearly as great as the northern part

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A popular Bolivian snack - popcorn

Posted by TravellingFries Wed 20 Mar 2013 17:33 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Festivities in Cusco

Brining in the New Year... Peruvian Style

Initially Danny and I were planning on spending the holidays in La Paz thinking the capital would probably have more festivities, but after some research, we found out that Cusco is quite the party (which worked out better for our schedule anyways).

We arrived in Cusco on the 24th and realized quickly that we made the right choice - Cusco was packed with not only foreign backpackers, but local Peruvian travellers. Because we didn't book any hostels ahead of time, we ended up switching accommodations 3 times in 10 days haha.
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Christmas Eve - the streets are packed!

Christmas was spent relatively quietly. We spent the day relaxing around town. New years on the other hand was a different story. Throughtout the week, we had noticed that a lot of the street vendors were selling yellow things - yellow flowers, yellow shirts, even yellow underwear. We eventually found out that the custom is to wear yellow on new years eve, as yellow is suppose to signify good luck. Every year, hundreds of people dressed in yellow gather around the main square for fireworks and to welcome in the new year. Once the clock turns midnight, everyone in the square joins together in the traditional run around the square for good luck. And that's exactly how we spent our NYE! :)

Christmas Day
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New Years Eve - Plaza de Armes
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Happy 2013! Dinner at Chicha - one of several restaurants opened by celebrity chef Gaston Acurio
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True Crue Alpaca - Roast beef style with black pepper, molle pepper and a chili and mustard emulsion. Steak tartar, small wild spinach salad and crispy potatoes

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Cuy Pequines - Glazed guinea pig, purpe cornmeal crepes, rocoto pepper jelly, and sweet pickled turnip

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Chaufa Andino de Quinua u Cuy - Of quinoa and vegetables, deep fried guinea pig and chifera sauce

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Lechon crocante a la criolla - Tender pork belly with crispy skin, dry potato veloute, filled blanquillo peach with black pudding

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Cheese ice cream and some super sweet traditional Peruvian dessert

Posted by TravellingFries Fri 15 Mar 2013 22:56 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Machu Picchu

Undoubtedly the Main Attraction of Peru

Before we left Toronto Danny and I debated whether or not to do the Inca trail hike. After much thought, we decided that the hike would not make sense for us since we would have to book permits months in advance and we had no fixed travel schedule and didn't want to commit to any dates. I was a little worried that Machu Picchu would be not 'as great', seeing as how hiking the Inca trail is basically synonymous with seeing Machu Picchu. But I can say now, even without doing the hike, Machu Picchu was still pretty spectacular!

We took the train to Aguas Caliente the night before. The morning of, we woke up to huge fog cover which eventually turned into rain. Oh no, this was definitely not how I envisioned it. I will admit, I was slightly disappointed (ok a lot disappointed) but hey what can you do...after all, it IS the wet season.

We eventually met up with Danny's tour guide from his trek on the Inca Trail a few years ago. Jose, who started his own tour company Cusi Travel earlier in 2012, was finishing the Lares Hike that day with his group. By the way, for those of you who are reading this, if you're looking for an awesome guide for Machu Picchu and some of the adjacent hikes who is fluent in Spanish, Quechua, and English, Jose is the man! Danny and I both highly recommend Cusi Travel! Jose is native Quechua, and hence very knowledgeable about Machu Picchu and the Quechua culture. For more info, check out his website: http://cusitravel.com/

We did a walk around the site - the fog was so thick we couldn't really see anything. We decided to walk to the Sun Gate to wait out the fog, but nope the weather didn't clear up. Undeterred we walked back down and found a spot overlooking Machu Picchu to have lunch in hopes that the sky would clear...and so we waited...

And sure enough, the sun eventually broke through the clouds! The next couple of hours were spent taking a gazillion shots of Machu Picchu at every possible angle haha.

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Perurail and snacks

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Broken window caused by falling rocks during our ride! I guess taking the train can also be quite the adventure haha!

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Train delay due to fallen tree ahead

...and finally, Machu Picchu (not quite the way I envisioned it haha)
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but patience...the sun finally came out!!
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Danny was determined to see a llama and would not leave until we found one haha

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For the record, the matching Peruvian beanies was Danny's idea haha :P

Posted by TravellingFries Thu 7 Mar 2013 17:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Huacachina

The Hidden Oasis in Peru

Huacachina is a tiny town about 5 hrs south of Lima. It is essentially a tourist town consisting of hotels and restaurants centered around a lake surrounded by huge sand dunes - a picture perfect oasis. So perfect the town's lagoon is featured on the Peruvian 50 sol bill. There's really nothing else to do here except sandboard, dune buggy, and of course, soak in the awesome scenery.

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Dune Buggying and Sandboarding in Peru!!
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Awesome dunes!

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Huacachina - paradise in the middle of a desert!

Posted by TravellingFries Thu 7 Mar 2013 15:31 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

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