The final leg of the journey saw us taking on the task of walking from the border to La Paz. This was going to be a 120km walk between altitudes of 3,800 to 4000 metres. The team's fitness was slowly improving but a two week stop in Cusco that has involved a few too many hamburgers may have put an end to this. If the task looked hard before; it now looked near impossible. After the sale of the horses (to two brilliant homes in the Sacred Valley) had dragged on for two weeks Ed and Phil had to say goodbye to Nick and Aimee as their flight home was less than a week away. They jetted off for a romantic few days together whilst Ed and Phil would only have the tent and each other for company. After getting a bus to Copacabana and arriving a little late it looked like they were going to have an easy first (half) day. This idealistic dream was soon shattered as they had to climb their first hill laden with 15kgs of kit each... where were the horses when we needed them?
After the shock that the ´altiplano´ was not that flat at all Ed and Phil battled on in the hope of getting to the port. After a tiring day they arrived at a small village but were told that the port was going to be another three hours away. It was now six in the evening and the decision was made to pitch camp. The same hospitality that we have seen all over South America was again shown to Ed and Phil as the owner of a nearby house offered to run for an hour to fetch the key for the nearby school. His kind offer was refused as we assured him that we would be perfectly comfortable in our tent. Ed had the job of climbing down a well to fetch some water for supper and the team settled down for a rather chilly night. The next morning and we set off (after a Kendal mint cake breakfast) with a few snowflakes falling around us and we were again reminded that we were up over 4000 meters. After a few hours we arrived in the port and had a short journey across to the other side (we had optimistically thought it might have taken us a little further towards La Paz). The next leg saw the terrain start to get a little flatter as we walked along the edge of Lake Titicaca. At five there was a rather inaccurate sign that informed us Batallas was 10 kms away... We decided to go for it and after around seventeen kms we arrived - the second day now totalled over 42kms. After a small budget crisis we had to cook up a soup for supper as we only had 40p left to get us to La Paz (we could now no longer even afford the temptation of a bus).
With a few groans and complaints in the morning we were back on the road. After three kms of walking we saw our first sign and we only had another 50 kms to go! Phil suggested that it might well be worth going for it and this suggestion was still up for debate at around 3 pm. With sore feet and the promise of a swim and a massage in La Paz the joint decision was made and the pace quickened as we had to cover the remaining distance before dark.
After 120kms and a few tough days of walking (over two and a half marathons with backpacks in two and a half days) the team stumbled into La Paz. There was no big sign or welcoming party but the sense of finishing a journey and a dream that began over a year ago was more than enough. There has been an amazing amount of kindness and generosity not just from the wealthy but from people who have nothing and have been willing to share everything. Thank you so much for following us all through our trials and tribulations over the last six months. We have all gained so much from this experience and all your kind donations mean that so many others may find help when they need it. It is with heavy hearts that we will be leaving South America but also with a huge sense of achievement, without the help of so many people none of this would have been possible. Thank you.