Having been done with all cross border formalities, we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the lake, sightseeing, and hiking up one of the hills for a great view. Copacabana is a wonderful place to relax, especially when you have a room at Hostal Leyenda with a nice view of the lake.
On the second day there, I took a boat to Isla del Sol where I visited some Inca ruins while having great views of the lake and the islands from the hill tops. Luckily, there were also celebrations because of the anniversary of the village with music and traditional dances going on. After that excursion, we took an overnight bus to La Paz.
Having arrived in the world’s highest capital city with an altitude of 3.640 meter altitude, we checked in at Hostal Canoa in the city center not too far from the bus terminal. From there, we discovered the city the next day: the famous witch market with the lama fetuses, the main square, several churches, markets, and the cable car which took us high above to the market in El Alto.
The next morning, we left for the Huayna Potosi, a mountain of 6.088 meter altitude in the Cordillera Real surrounding La Paz. On the first day, we stayed at the Base Camp practicing ice climbing at a glacier. The next day, we went up to the High Camp at 5.270 meter altitude in order to start the last hard part to the summit at 1:30 am. Through snow and ice, we somehow made it up to the summit right in time for sunrise at 6:30 am. Thus, we were amongst the 20% of the people leaving the camp that actually made it to the top and didn’t turn around. One of the hardest things I’ve ever done! But the view from high up above the clouds was totally worth it although we didn’t feel quite well afterwards…
Well, that was a once in a lifetime experience after which I needed a day to recover in La Paz only visiting the Valley of the Moon in the afternoon with Cecile from France. The next morning, I took part in the highly recommended Red Caps Walking Tour (it’s not for freebecause that’s forbidden by law in Bolivia) during which I was told many facts about the country, the city, and the Bolivian culture that I had not known before. Right afterwards, I took the bus to Rurrenabaque in the Amazon region across the Death Road.
After a spectacular bus ride on the death road with stunning views, I arrived in Rurrenabaque early in the morning, took a quick sightseeing tour, and went to the agency Fluvial Tours in order to being taken to Santa Rosa. There, we jumped on a small boat that went deep into the wetlands of Amazonia. On the way, we already saw many different birds, caymans, crocodiles, dolphins, and tapirs.
After a good night’s sleep in the jungle lodge and delicious meals, we went into the swamps to look for anacondas. Although the weather conditions were not the best (snakes are cold-blooded reptiles and come out when the sun is shining), we bumped into one after three hours walking in boots through mud and water. Later that day, after siesta, we went out to catch our delicious dinner – piranhas – before watching the sunset.
The next morning, we got up early in order to see the sun rise over the jungle and do some bird watching. After breakfast, we went swimming with the pink dolphins in the river before the boat took us back through the swamps where we said goodbye to all the animals and reptiles in the wild.
Having taken the bus in Rurrenabaque, I jumped out in Choroico in order to enjoy the views over the valley before heading back to La Paz and from there further on to Chochabamba.
After having arrived in Cochabamba later than I thought, I had to walk around in order to find a hostel. Finally, I ended up in Jaguar House which was nice but overpriced. Having slept in, I took a walk around town with two other backpackers in the afternoon. We had lunch at the huge market and took the lift up the hill in order to see the highest Christ statue in the world and enjoy the view.
Having spent the night in another bus, I arrived in Sucre very early in the morning, and went straight to bed at the hostel Spanish Friends (nice & relaxed atmosphere). When I took a walk in the afternoon, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and elegancy of this city. It doesn’t seem to be South American at all! It’s so nice and quiet with its white houses, the serene churches, and the numerous green squares. Oh, and sunset is best watched from Recoleta up the hill!
The next day, I went to the archeological park nearby where huge dinosaur footprints were found – the biggest ones worldwide. It was an amazing sight! Crazy to imagine that these giants lived here 86 million years ago!
In the afternoon, I climbed up to the bell tower of the church La Merced in order to enjoy the view before I went back to the hostel to chill, be on the phone and just put up my legs for a bit before leaving this marvelous capital of Bolivia in the morning.
Having arrived in Potosi in the afternoon, I had missed the mine tour and booked a night in the hostel. Thus, I had a lot of time to look at the beautiful colonial houses and churches and to go to the market.
In the morning, I finally took the chance to go to the silver mines that are the biggest ones in the world. Because of Cerro Rico, the silver mountain next to Potosi, the city was once one of the richest in the world. Until today, thousands of men are working in the mines and we were able to experience the working conditions and watch the miners doing their tasks. It’s like a completely other world in there.
After a relaxed day at the hostel, I jumped on the bus to Tupiza in the South of Bolivia where I arrived in the middle of the night. In the morning, I took a stroll through this Wild West like town – the last residence of the US-outlaws Butch Cassidy and Sunday Kid – and into the red canyon. What a cool sight! And also the views on the way to Uyuni later were totally worth a bus ride during daytime.
In the town of Uyuni itself, there is not much to do except of comparing offers for tours. Thus, that is what I did after having arrived (and I indeed found a good one for about 85 USD for 3 days) and before taking the last shower for three days and having a good night’s sleep in a warm hostel bed.
The next morning, Debora, whom I had met a couple of months ago in Ecuador, got there and our tour started. At first, we went to the train cemetery where you can climb on old trains that are not used anymore. After the museum of salt and a small market in Colchani, we finally started driving through the biggest salt desert on earth. At the salt hotel which had been built for the Dakar Race taking place here in 2016, we had lunch and then continued to a nice photo spot. Another sight in the salt desert is the island Incahuasi with hundreds of huge cacti and amazing views of the desert and the volcano Tunupa. In San Juan, inmidst the Chiguana desert, we stayed in a salt hostel and had a great dinner.
In the morning, we had to drive a while until we got to the lagoons where the flamingos are roaming about. With these views in sight, we were having lunch outside before going on through amazing landscapes to the rock tree surrounded by astonishing rock formations. It was also here, where we saw desert foxes and vizcachas and got a good view of the volcano Ollague. In the afternoon, we arrived at Laguna Colorada where we took a walk to the viewpoint in order to soak in these incredible views of the lagoon and the flamingos. In the evening, we were sitting at the fireplace for dinner in order to get warm (it was freezing cold)…
When we left in the morning, it was snowing very badly – thus, we were not able to get to the geysers due to this snow storm. But at least, we still were able to go to the thermal baths – what an experience to sit in this hot water while the air is freezing cold! Afterwards, we went to the green and the white lagoon before getting to the border post next to Licancabur, the third volcano we saw on this trip. Unfortunately, the street to Chile was blocked due to the snow. Thus, we had to wait for 2.5 hours until finally getting into the country and being driven to San Pedro de Atacama.
After finally having left Ecuador on a night bus across the border, I arrived to Mancora early in the morning and checked into my hostel Psygon Surf Camp – close to the beach with lots of palm trees, a pool, and bar, a gym and everything a backpacker’s heart desires. Thus, I just chilled at the pool and the beach the whole day after having explored the town. An incredible viewpoint for the sunset is on the hill near the lighthouse.
The next morning, I went to the beach in Los Organos. While swimming there, I was surrounded by huge turtles, sea lions, pelicans, and crabs. Amazing!!! There, I also met some other backpackers whom I spent the rest of the day with before taking the night bus further down South.
The bus ride which was supposed to take me to Trujillo over night was sooo messed up… 🙁 Something on the engine was broken and thus, the bus only went with half the speed until it finally got replaced 15 hours later. That means we arrived in Trujillo with a 12-hour-delay… First and last time I took a bus by the company Primavera.
In Trujillo, I teamed up with Ben from the Netherlands and Diego from Colombia and we stayed in the hostel Wachaque Surf in Huanchaco after having had burger and drinks. In the morning, Adel from England joined us and we went to Chan Chan with its museum and ruins – remains of the Moche dynasty. A looong time ago, this was the biggest capital city purely built of clay. After having spent some time at the beach and in the beautiful city center of Trujillo in the afternoon, we took another night bus to our next destination.
Having arrived in Huaraz, we chose the Big Mountain Hostel to stay in. After breakfast at the terrace, we went on a small hike to a lagoon close by where we enjoyed wonderful views before getting everything ready for pursuing the Santa-Cruz-Trek starting early the next morning – renting the camping gear, buying food, making pasta, and packing everything together.
To get to Huascaran National Park, we had to take two local busses. Having arrived to Vaqueria, we enjoyed a Coca tea to prevent altitude sickness, and then started hiking. The winter camping gear was just too heavy that’s why Ben and I decided to rent a donkey for carrying our stuff (in the end, we not only got a discount but also an upgrade to a horse). During the first night of camping, it rained really hard and we woke up because the tent was leaking… :-/ Although having been advised to turn around and go back, we decided to go up with the wet stuff. The weather was on our side and we were able to dry it in the sun at the highest point Punta Union (4.700m) near the lagoon. When our horse left us, we had to carry our big bags ourselves but very friendly Peruvian guys helped us, offered us tea and snacks afterwards, and even served us dinner and breakfast in the tent. 🙂 On the 3rd day, we started early again and hiked 24km through valleys and along rivers – incredible views!
As soon as we had arrived in Huaraz in the evening, I jumped on a night bus to Lima in order to meet up with my friend Lisa from Germany …
Having arrived to Lima early in the morning, I went to the Hotel where my friend Lisa stayed after having gotten there from Munich on Sunday. There, we had a very nice breakfast, before I finally was able to take a shower again after 4 days without… At noon, we walked through Miraflores, visited two ruins and afterwards the city center which was pretty disappointing and veeeeery noisy and smoggy because of all the traffic. Thus, we went back to the hotel and chilled there before taking a bus to Ica in the morning.
The highlight in Ica is Per`’s mesmerizing desert oasis Huacachina where we stayed in the hotel Rochabus which gave us some pool time. In the evening, we went with a buggy through the sand dunes, tried sand boarding, and enjoyed a wonderful sunset in the desert.
The next day, we had another relaxing time at the pool before going to Nazca to take a look at the famous Nazca Lines. What we saw was a collection of giant geoglyphs created by the ancient Nazca culture depicting various plants, animals, and shapes. The 2,000-year-old lines in the ground – which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 – are still a mystery to researchers. From there, we took the next upcoming bus to Arequipa (this time the luxury liner Cruz del Sur for a promo price).
Having arrived in Arequipa, we just dropped our bags at the bus station and went into the city center where we strolled around, stunned by the colonial-style houses, the impressive churches, the arcs – and, of course, the jaw-dropping scenery with two volcanoes surrounding it this city.
In the evening, we arrived in Cabanaconde, where we stayed the night at hotel Villa Pastor in order to start our trek through the Colca Canyon early in the morning – the second deepest canyon worldwide. When Lisa, me, AJ, and Quintin (two Americans we had had met earlier in the bus), arrived in Llahuar about 6 hours later, it was time to relax in the hot springs. What a wonderful afternoon we had at the Llahuar Lodge, where we inhabited our own little cabin at the river! 🙂
The next day, we went on uphill and after a while down again to the oasis Sagalle. But instead of staying there at one of the hotels chilling at the pool, we went on to San Juan until we arrived in Posada Gloria where we spent the night (without wifi, hot water, and electricity but with a great banana-pancake breakfast).
The third day in the canyon was the hardest. We had to leave very early in order to hike uphill for 1.200 m in 3 hours to get the bus in Cabanaconde at 11:30 am while enjoying the last stunning views of this amazing landscape! Back in Arequipa, we took the night bus to Cusco.