HOLA amigos!! Hope everyone is well, sorry it has taken so long for this one, internet in Bolivia is extremely basic, and we have been pretty busy! Since the last blog we went to the Argentinian side of Igazu Falls, journeyed (3 days on a bus!) up to Bolivia, seen the salt flats, La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and now into Peru.
The Argentinian side of the falls were even better than the Brazilian side! The sun was out in full force and it felt like being at a theme park. We got a train up to the top viewing platform, where you walk over the river and get covered in butterflies (one latched onto sophie for a good 10 minutes), until you get to the end. The end of the platform is right at the top of the falls, and you get dizzy looking at the sheer power and volume of water tumbling over the edge....don´t look down!! We then walked further down to the bottom of the falls where we got in a speed boat that takes you right into the falls. We were absolutely drenched, but it was so worth it.....thankfully they give you dry bags for your valuables!! Oddly enough we met some friends who we had been in Florianopolis with at the Falls, and we all went out for cocktails later that evening. It was our last night with Suze and Tom which was sad, but we are going to meet up with them again in Chile.
Soph and I got up early to go and get a bus to as near Bolivia as we could get. Unfortunately we had to wait until 9pm that evening to get a bus. We watched tv in the hostel (the hostel was called stop hostel and suites and had bed bugs so we were a bit unhappy about going back!) We had met some really nice girls the previous evening from Hong Kong and so we hung out with them most of the day and we all went out for lunch to a place called Wok and Grill where we had really tasty chicken noodles. We got our bus to Toucaman at 9pm and arrived at 6.30pm the next day. The bus was nice, we got 3 meals and coffee and drinks and they played films that were mostly in English, although they were ALL action movies.....we wanted a romcom! Once in Toucaman we caught an overnight bus to La Quicha at the Bolivian border and arrived about 7am the next morning. We crossed the border easily meeting a really nice Israeli couple on the way. We caught an open back truck taxi across the border which was quite fun being sat in the back on top of our rucksacks!
Once in Bolivia, you can immediately see what the lonely planet guide talks about when it describes Bolivian women with long plaits, bowler hats, long patterned skirts and fluffy jumpers, more often than not with a baby on their back tied in place with a blanket. We headed straight to the bus station to get a bus to Uyuni. We got a bus to Uyuni for 60 bolivianos which is less than 6 pounds!! It was meant to take 10 hours but ended up taking 20...this would have been ok on the buses we were used to, but this bus was beyond basic. The roads in Bolivia are mostly dirt traks, and on a bus with no suspension...and no toilet....it wasnt the comfiest of rides! The beautiful scenery seemed to make it all worth while though. Huge mountains with tiny villages dotted around, and endless rolling hills as far as the eye can see.
Eventually we arrived in Uyuni at 9am the next day and we decided to book our salt flats tour for the next day. We had a really lazy day catching up on sleep, using a proper toilet and showering! Simple things that become luxuries whilst travelling! The salt flats were the most incredible 3 days. We got up early to meet our group, which was 4 other girls. We started off in at the train cemetry which is a very weird place, and none of us really understood why they include it in the tour. It is loads of rusty trains that they have added a couple of see saws and swings in to make fun. Then we went to the salt flats. They are incredible, you cant tell where they end and the sky begins. It is just white as far as you can see. We messed around taking photos (as some of you may have seen on facebook). Our guide made us a really nice lunch out of the back of the 4 x 4 jeep which consisted of chicken, salad, rice and potatoes (all the food was really good including lasagne, breaded chicken etc). We stayed in hostels on the way, the first one was at 4200m above sea level. The second day we went to see loads of volcanos, and lagoons which had hundreds of flamingos on them. We climbed loads of rocks, and had lunch inbetween two volcanoes and right next to a lagoon, where it felt like we were the only people in the world. I have never seen such incredible scenery in my whole life, words wouldnt do it justice. We then went into a National Park called Reserva Nacional de Fauna, where there were lots more flamingos and loads more llamas. If you go to Bolivia and Peru be prepared for everything to be focused on the llamas! Our next hostel was in the national park and it was at 4800m above sea level. We were extremely lucky with the altitude, but even the smallest hill would tire you out. On our last day we woke up at 4.30am! to go see some geezers in the crater of a live volcano and get to the hot springs for sunrise. It was amazing, and the geezers were at 5200m above sea level. We dropped one of the girls off at the Chilean border, after seeing the point where the Andes of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina met, then drove back to Uyuni.
We got a bus to La Paz that evening with one of the girls we had met on the salt flats tour - Rhiannon. We stayed in the Loki hostel, they are a chain of hostels specifically designed for younger backpackers. La Paz was great, it had AMAZING markets and we went out for drinks and sushi. It was just so cheap, we loved it and were there for a few days.
We caught a bus to Copacabana - the bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. We booked our tour, shopped a bit and had amazing stuffed trout (local speciality) for dinner. We went on a tour of Isla del Luna and Isla del sol the next day (still with Rhiannon). They are in the most beautiful setting, but walking up to the top of the islands at that altitude is just exhausting. We had lunch at Isla del Sol and then headed back to Copacabana. Me and soph started to feel a little dodgy on the way back, so as soon as we were back on land we headed to our hostel. Luckily we had a private room and bathroom, and a tv that played english movies and tv shows, because we were very ill that night, and the following day couldnt get out of bed. We had booked a bus to Puno in Peru for the next day, but we couldnt get it as we were too ill. Rhiannon was a bit rushed for time and oddly enough wasnt ill, so she went and got the bus. The following day we managed to eat a little and get the bus to Puno. We still werent feeling quite right though, so we got another private room with private bathroom to be safe. We went out for dinner and could barely eat anything, it was horrid, as for those of you who know me, i love my food!
The Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca with the floating islands is much better than Copacabana. The floating islands are amazing, with each family having their own island made out of reeds that they continuously rebuild. Their islands are anchored down, and if they wanted to move they could unanchor and float away on the lake. They live very basically and its amazing how resourceful they are through their use of the reeds. They even eat the bottom of the reeds as they are rich in calcium. We went on a boat they had made out of reeds, which according to our guide is like our mercedes benz! The reason for it being called Lake Titicaca is that if you look at the lake upside down it looks like a puma eating a rabbit. On the front of the boat we rode in there were two faces of the puma and the end was the tail of a fish. We journeyed on to another island which we ended up walking all the way up. It was a really pretty island, but again the altitude and uphill climb are a tough combination. We decided against lunch on the island because we still didnt feel quite right. The guide was great and spoke really good english, and the boat was a lot nicer than in Copacabana.
We got a bus the next day to Cusco. We are here until the 27th when we do the Inka trail up to Machu Picchu. We met up with Rhiannon on the first night, at the Loki hostel again. It is a really nice hostel with a bar, ping pong, good food, amazing beds with DUVETS!! We have been shopping, gone to starbucks! and the other day we went horse riding. I had a really nice horse, but im not sure it was big enough for me, i kept thinking it would break! Soph had an ex race horse which was a bit more of a wild one, but as she was more experienced she knew how to handle it. Its safe to say our bums ached the next day, but we are hoping to be fully ache free by Inka trail time. Thats basically it for now, but we are loving Cusco, its like a european city, so beautiful and a bit homely after Bolivia. Love to you all xxxxxxxxx