Lake Tititaca: Peru & Bolivia

Trip Start Sep 07, 2012
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Trip End Aug 18, 2013


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Where I stayed
Ecolodge Copacabana
What I did
copacabana bolivia

Flag of Peru  , Puno,
Monday, November 5, 2012

We had to get to Lake Titicaca. Not only did we want to see the worlds highest navigable lake (12,500') and the Incan home of Father and Mother Earth, but it was our path to Bolivia as well. Several bus companies do the Cusco-Puno 10 hour trip in a neat way: they stop at 4 places along the way to see historical and/or interesting sights. So we not only learned a bit but it broke up what would otherwise be yet another long bus excursion. 

We got another great deal at a Sonesta again so we stayed at their location on the shores of the lake and away from the city of Puno, Peru - which is somewhat unattractive and gritty. 

Mia needed a chill-out day so me and Emma took the boat tour to the famous floating islands of the Uro people. The Uro's built 40+ floating islands made out of reeds of grass. They originally served as a defensive mechanism, but they still move today along with the wind and currents of the massive body of water. The Uro's are some of the most denigrated people on earth - even the Inca's treated them like dirt. So while some people on TripAdvisor and the like slam the islands as a sort of Disney-like and made-for-tourists, we really enjoyed it. We liked meeting them and understanding their culture and while we didn't buy anything we contributed to the betterment of their culture by showing a sincere interest in their world. It was great to have a Dad-Emma and a Mom-Mia day as well.

Puno was cold and close to Bolivia so we only stayed one night...we got on yet another bus, but this time headed to a new country, Bolivia. The only landlocked country in our S. America journey, it is also the highest and poorest so were somewhat nervous about what we would experience. 

Entering Bolivia as US citizens is not easy. Because the US Govt doesn't like the politics of it's president, Coca farmer-to-President Morales, Bolivian's entering the US are treated like coke dealers. Therefore, those of us with blue passports had the privilege of being singled out on the bus and sent into a separate line. After a bit of needing to be pushy, I finally corralled some special form that us Yankees had to fill out and got back in line. We had been carrying around our special US currency (in Mint condition, no folds, tears and ultra crisp) and paid $540 USD to enter the country. (We also paid to leave their country, thank you very much!)  Truth be told, the country could use every last bit of tourist dollars and it was another good lesson for the girls about how global politics play down at the local level. 

After about an hour, we were all back on the bus and headed to Copacabana, Bolivia on the Bolivian shores of Lake Titicaca.  We found a cool hostel about a mile out of town that we had to ourselves: the hobbit-like Ecolodge Copacabana. After a grueling hike up (at over 12,000') to our hut, we walked into town for dinner at a great spot. 

The following morning, we had another one of those frustrating travel moments that we'd love to forget. The previous day, we booked a 1/2 day boat trip on the lake to the Sun Islands and a 2pm bus to La Paz. So we packed all of our bags up, checked out and took a 7am taxi to the tourist agency. They were closed...for the day!

An adjoining agency graciously helped us out but when she looked at our ticket, she became confused. She said it was not possible to take a 1/2 day tour and catch the bus in the same day and couldn't believe that someone would sell us such a service.  At this point, we got pretty frustrated and flustered. She sent her son to escort us down to another agency. The owner (who had nothing but bad things to say about our original agency) of this agency actually ran the boat we were supposed to take. He said that we would have to hire our own boat.  So we ended up on a huge boat, that normally holds about 20, all to ourselves.  We didn't want to miss seeing the islands, so we paid more for the 1/2 day excursion but at least had our own boat!  The downside was no official tour and we explored the ruins and island on our own for about an hour and then headed back to the bus.  It would of been nice to have someone explaining the history, but we were on our own.

We then headed into town to catch our bus.  We had to confront the owner of the tour company that sold us the bad tickets.  We got some stares and were also irritated by the fact that our girls didn't have seats with us (nobody offered to move seats).  We got through it, as we always do though!  We got off the bus and took a short 10 minute ferry across Lake Titicaca, and the bus went separately.  We arrived in La Paz, mentally exhausted but in one piece.
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Comments

Mary Lydia Ryan on

Thank you for posting your photos of all your adventures. This excursion looks like so much fun!! We miss you but are happy you are having such a great time. Merry Christmas!!! xoxo ~ Mary, Nick, Cien, Aris

Mo Clark on

Loving reading this... From Puno where we're experiencing alot similar! Including some parades - our hotel is. Ross the street from that lunch spot where you watched the parade - it's easily our favourite restaurant in town:) love from us all, MMBZL x

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