La Paz, Bolivia – The End of the Tour

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After leaving Puno we headed around the banks of Lake Titicaca towards Bolivia. The border crossing went quite smoothly which was a relief as I was a bit nervous because it was my first overland border crossing.

We stopped off in Copacabana for lunch (not the famous Copacabana from the song, which is in Brazil) before continuing on to La Paz. All up it was about a 7 hour bus journey.

The city of La Paz is located in a valley and sprawls up the sides of the mountains that surround it. We entered the city via El Alto, a neighboring city which overlooks La Paz. As we came to the edge of El Alto we were able to look down onto the city and I was absolutely awestruck! I’ve never seen anything like it. The buildings cling to the mountainsides and spill down into the lower part of the canyon where the main streets of the city are made up of modern skyscrapers.

After my first glimpse of La Paz I knew I was going to thoroughly enjoy my time in the city.

The only part I didn’t enjoy was saying goodbye to the amazing group of people from the tour. Part of the group were heading home while others were continuing on with another tour which meant it was time for me to start the solo part of my journey. It was quite amazing how well everyone on the tour got on and we were all very sad to say goodbye. The good thing is that many of them will be in London or nearby when I arrive so we have already planned to catch-up and reminisce about the amazing times we shared.

A huge thank you to Rod from G.A.P Adventures who looked after all of us and made the tour the best experience of my life. And of course to the cheeky bastards on the tour: Francisca, Benedicte, Jolien, Marilyn, Nat, Kat, Shruti, Kat, Will, Tim, Joey and Mark; you guys were the best tour group I could have imagined and I already miss you all very much!

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Puno and Lake Titicaca

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After returning to Cuzco from the Amazon Jungle we had a 7hr bus journey to the town of Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. Puno is 3830 metres above sea level and Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in the world above 2000 metres.

In the morning we took a boat across Lake Titicaca to Taquile Island where we could take in the spectacular views of the lake, view the men knitting textiles (unusually only the men are allowed to knit while the women do the spinning) and then had a beautiful lunch at a local restaurant with amazing views.

After lunch we headed to the Amantani Island where we were doing a homestay with a local family. We met the families we were staying with and had a futbol match against another group of American/Canadian tourists. We won, of course, but then the locals took to the field and we had to play them as well. We were already struggling because of the high altitude and were tired from the last game but we put up a good fight, it was only 2-1 their way when it was called off because of bad lighting.

Then we were told that the local families would like to dress us up in the traditional clothes, all the girls were given beautiful skirts, jackets and hats and the boys were given ponchos and hats – we all looked great! The locals then performed a dance which we got to join in with. It was so much fun!

Then it was back to our local families houses for a delicious dinner. Nat, Kat, Shruti and I were staying with a lovely family and we were very surprised when the nephew, Wilbur, asked us if we knew how to play the card game shithead! We’d been playing all the time on our tour so we sat down and played several games. Wilbur was very happy that he wasn’t shithead! We also gave gifts to our family to say thank you for letting us stay with them which included flour, rice, pasta, fruit and a wind up lantern.

The next day we said goodbye to our family and took another boat ride to the floating islands of the Uros people. The islands are amazing! They are made of reeds that they constantly need to add to with more layers of reeds. They even build houses and boats out of the reeds and eat them as well! We were shown a demonstration of how they build the islands which was just incredible and got to take a look inside there houses. They had solar panels which allowed them to have TVs and sound systems in their reed huts – crazy!

And then it was back to Puno where we visited the markets and went out for dinner where I tried guinea pig! I know many of you are disgusted by this and to tell the truth I kinda was too, but I wanted to try everything that Peru had on offer. They brought it out whole and we took photos (although I didn’t have my camera so I have to get the photos from Shruti to show you) and then they took it back and cut it up for me. When it came back it still had the head which you could see it’s teeth sticking out of and it’s little legs that still had it’s nails on it’s paws. Gross! But I tucked in and it wasnt too bad, kinda tasted like chicken but was very boney and the skin was pretty tough, but overall not too bad!

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