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Published: March 2nd 2019
Another early start as we head to the airport at El Alto at 7 for our 10.30 flight to Cusco. It’s 4100m above sea level and the pollution is hideous, so I’m not looking forward to spending two hours before our flight breathing air high in fumes and low in oxygen. It turns out I’m not going to. Our flight on Peruvian airlines has been cancelled - they ceased operating following a crash. We’re told we need to get Peruvian airlines to purchase us tickets on Amazonas which departs at 10.15. Two problems; the Peruvian airlines rep cannot be located and the flight is full.
There isn’t another flight today. We can come back tomorrow but it will cost $828. We contact our waste of space travel agent who suggests we buy overnight bus tickets.
I google the options. The reviews are worse than awful. I’m not happy. But there isn’t really an option so we get a taxi back to the bus station which, incidentally, was designed by Gustave Eiffel.
It turns out the direct bus is full anyway, so we need to catch a local bus to Copacabana and then an overnight bus from there.
So by 1.30 pm we crawl out of La Paz (again) in a huge cloud of diesel smoke, luggage bouncing precariously on the roof. And by 1.45 we have stopped by the roadside for repairs.
We set off again, retracing our route to Copacabana; highway over the plain, ferry across the lake, winding road through the mountains. The lake is much choppier than before; not much fun on the ferry and there’s a few nervous moments when the raft containing the bus containing my suitcase starts taking on water and I fear I’m going to have to wear the same pants for the next 19 days.
We arrive in Copacabana at 5, which gives us just enough to complete the requisite paperwork, buy some empanadas and board the bus for a 6 pm departure.
The bus is actually really nice with comfortable reclining seats, heating, blankets etc. It only takes 30 minutes to reach the border and 30 minutes for everyone to clear immigration. The clocks have gone back, so now it’s 6 pm again and we can reboard our bus, lay back and ‘relax’ (as much as is possible on bouncy third world mountain roads) for
the final 11 hours of our journey.
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