After a period of not great internet and no patience to write posts, its time to catch up again.
We arrived in La Paz on the 16th
of April, landing at El Alto airport at an altitude of 4000m. When building the airport they needed to make the tarmac significantly longer than most airports to give planes enough space to gain speed for take-off. All due to the high altitude. La Paz itself is in a small bowl-shaped valley at around 3600m.
We spent 2 days here, most of the time we just walked around the city allowing ourselves to be overwhelmed by the business, all the markets and people in colorful clothing. Except for the small center, the houses in the city are only a few stories high and don't look like they will last very long. We also walked past San Pedro prison, which is famous due to the fact that there is a whole society inside the prison. People have to buy their cells, get jobs and there are even elections. If you are interested to learn more, I'd highly recommend reading “Marching Powder”, written by a British drug trafficker who spent quite some
Due to everything going on and the high altitude, La Paz left quite an impression but also left us somewhat looking forward to leave. Heading from Bolivia to Peru you pass by Copacabana which lies on the Bolivian shore of the Titicaca lake. Lake Titicaca is (one of the) highest navigable lakes (3800m) in the world. The most striking thing about it is that it does not look like a mountain lake at all. It has sandy beaches, lush vegetation around it and the steep hills bordering it are filled with terraces for agriculture.
A highlight for us was visiting Isla del Sol, a large island in lake Titicaca. According to Incan mythology, this is the birthplace of the sun as well as the place where the first Inca emperor was called into being by the sun itself. So, in a sense, comparable to the Garden of Eden in Christianity. For a lot of people in Peru and Bolivia this island still plays an important role in their beliefs. Among other things, the island contains the ruins of the Temple of the Sun as well as Fuenta del Inca, a spring flowing
into beautiful hanging gardens. When the Spanish arrived here they believed these springs to be the fountain of youth. Understandable given the beauty and the religious significance of the island.
Isla del Sol consists of several beautiful green valleys, surrounded by terraces for agriculture. There are also various bays with clear water and nice beaches. In addition the handful of villages are extremely picturesque, and remind of the Italian countryside. When walking around here, its hard to believe that you are in the middle of a lake at high altitude. We took a boat to the north of the island in the morning and walked over a ridge to the southern part where we took the boat back at the end of the day. Definitely highly recommended if you are ever in this area.
The next day we visited Puno, a city in Peru also along lake Titicaca. Close to Puno you can find the floating islands. These are artificial islands made of reeds, that were made by the Uros people as defensive structures since it allowed them to move around when necessary. We were told that they were also used as a refuge
on the lake when the Incas invaded. It was interesting to see, though felt a bit like an open-air museum. I don't think that people would still be living there if it were not for the tourists. That said, people do still live there, and some islands have primary schools.
Next post about Colca Canyon coming soon! See below for more photos.
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