Archive for the ‘Bolivia’ Category

A day in Puno   4 comments

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Bye, bye, Bolivia – the next morning we take the bus to Puno in Peru.

Copacabana Airport

When we arrive in Kasani, the little border town, we queue for half an hour in the Bolivian immigration office and another 30 minutes on the Peruvian side to get our passports stamped. Meanwhile the bus is waiting for all passengers. You can also do this on your own – use a micro to get from Copacapana to the frontera, walk across and then catch another bus to Puno. But at a price of £2.70 we treat ourselves to the more convenient direct option.

Mind you, there are plenty of taxis about…

Welcome to Peru!

The road follows the shore of Lake Titicaca and we notice a lot of agricultural activity – farmland and many animals grazing along the route.

How I miss my Possu…

People carrier

Filling station

How do you get the sheep onto the roof in the first place?

Puno, ho!

When Johannes is grown up he wants to drive a bus with two twin axles

I’ve forwarned my dad that he shouldn’t expect anything too exciting in Puno (apologies to all the locals who are reading this) but as soon as we have settled in our room at the Hotel Zurit, the political demonstrations start outside – national elections are being held on 5th October – and we have a window seat to watch the spectacle.

We walk to the lakeshore –

– and take a ‘Rikscha’ back into the city centre

It’s also the local university’s anniversary and all the faculties celebrate in traditional costumes and dancing in the streets.

Puno’s Cathedral

In the evening we treat ourselves to typical Peruvian dishes –

Alpaca a la plancha y Cuy al horno

Mein Vater, der Meerschweinchenfresser…

It’s all in the mind – guinea pig tastes like poultry, it is a Peruvian delicacy, not cheap and served whole mainly to prove that it’s the real thing.

You see, there are quite a few interesting things going on in Puno – Johannes is well impressed. Tomorrow we’re off to Cusco; Machu Picchu is calling.

Posted 28 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, Peru, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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Lago Titicaca   Leave a comment

Sunday 21 and Monday 22 September 2014

Between La Paz and Copacabana, the main town on the Bolivian shore of Lake Titicaca, lies the Strait of Tiquina, which still has to be crossed by boat.


… and passengers

You could ask why haven’t they built a bridge yet but first, this would be a huge investment for the poorest country in South America, and secondly, this type of transport provides the locals with jobs and travellers with an exciting experience. Long may it continue.

We stay two days in Copacabana to make a boat trip on the legendary lake.

Room with a view

Isla de la Luna – Island of the Moon

Home to one of the oldest Inka structures – the temple of the virgins of the sun, where the selected young women were raised and educated before being sacrificed on the Isla del Sol

Replica of a traditional reed boat

Yumani on the Island of the Sun


The Basilica

On the main square

Spot the town’s only mailbox…

Weekly gas supply

… and a last panorama shot

Tomorrow we will enter Peru, stay one night in Puno and then continue to Cusco and Machu Picchu.

All photos of Lake Titicaca and Copacabana here.

Posted 25 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

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Sucre – La Ciudad Blanca   1 comment

Wednesday 17 to Friday 19 September 2014

After a frugal breakfast…

… we enjoy a hair-raising journey by micro…

to Potosí’s new bus terminal…

… from where we take a bus to Sucre

Impressions from the road –

The 158-kilometre journey along the well-paved Ruta 5 takes just over three hours. As always when we arrive somewhere, the first thing we do is organise our onward journey – here in Sucre we find a very helpful overview of all connections available:

Sucre is the constitutional and official capital of Bolivia, while La Paz is the seat of the government – which is still a sensitive subject between the cities and causing confusion in the rest of the world. Due to its well-preserved colonial buildings and structures painted in white, Sucre is also called La Ciudad Blanca – the white city – and has been declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1991.

When I came here in 2010, I found Sucre beautiful, vibrant, with a pleasant climate at 2,810 metres altitude, full of friendly people, lovely parks, colourful markets and lots of interesting corners. All this I’m eager to show Johannes as well.

We find accommodation in the Grand Hotel where I’ve stayed before and are offered a suite again –

Some times it pays off to travel with your dad…

A great view is included

We are just a few metres from the Plaza 25 de Mayo – the main square

The cathedral in the background

Street-sweeping Bolivian style

Palacio del Gobierno Autónomo Departamental de Chuquisaca – previously the seat of the national government before it was moved to La Paz

San Felipe Neri

On the first evening we have a deluxe version of Pique Macho, this time with beef, pork, chicken and chorizo, home-made salsa, the best chips in town and a fresh salad

Our second day in Sucre is mainly dedicated to resting and the more mundane traveller chores: laundry, sewing, posting, writing postcards etc…

We start with an excellent breakfast

I need a haircut

Then we browse the huge Mercado Central for bits and bobs

You can get the most amazing fruit juices – freshly made to order

Bolivian honey jars – we think there’s room for improvement in the marketing and presentation departments…

The Zebra Brigade – making road crossings safer and life in the community better

There are strong relationships between Bolivia and Germany

Here we build a culture of peace

… this also involves culinary interchange

In the ‘Kultur Café Berlin’ we enjoy Apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce

The mighty micro, the main means of transport in Bolivian towns

We are still so full-up from our Apfelstrudel escapade that we skip dinner that day – so no further mouth-watering Pique Macho photos for you, sorry.

On Friday we have booked an overnight bus to La Paz that doesn’t leave until 19.00 hrs; so we still have some time to enjoy Sucre. And there is hardly a better place than the ‘Plaza Restaurant’, formerly known as ‘Los Balcones’.


A last stroll through the beautiful park on the Plaza

Then we board the micro to the bus terminal

Adiós, Sucre, hasta la próxima vez – we hope we’ll see you again at some point in the future.

Posted 21 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

¡Potosí, Potosí!   Leave a comment

Tuesday 16 September 2014

If you were ever wondering how to pronounce the Bolivian city of Potosí, I can recommend spending half an hour at the bus terminal in Uyuni and listening to the travel agents trying to fill their coaches. The vociferous calls “¡Potosí, Potosí! – this bus leaves immediately for Potosí!” will haunt us for the rest of the trip.

Some pictures from the now paved road, which was one of the worst ripio tracks back in 2010. The 204-kilometre journey only takes us three and a half hours this time.

The railway!

Our destination in the distance

¡Bienvenidos a Potosí!

Potosí lies at 4,090 metres above sea level and is the highest place where we will stay overnight.

Not sure whose idea it was but although you should avoid physical exertion at altitude if you are not used to it, we decide to walk the 2.4 kilometres from the bus terminal into the city centre. Of course, it’s uphill all the way…

Next time we take a Micro, ok, dad?

Our chosen hotel has changed ownership, name and room standards, but we find accommodation in the Hostal Felimar, where we are offered the suite on the top floor.

We even have a balcony!

La Catedral – from behind

The main square is closed for refurbishment

El Cerro Rico, the rich mountain, whose silver ore was the reason for Potosí’s former wealth and historical importance

The City Council – illuminated in the Bolivian national colours

In a local fast food restaurant we discover a new favourite…

Pique Macho – with beef, chicken, sausage, goat’s cheese, eggs, onions, tomatoes, chillies and chips

Cerro Rico and Potosí by night – from our own balcony…

Posted 19 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

Salar de Uyuni   2 comments

Monday 15 September 2014

As we are lacking our own transport…

… we have booked a 4×4 tour of the Salar

The Crew (clock-wise from right): Aida, me, Nasi, Mar, Esthefany (a family from Barcelona) and Marco from China

We see a few places I haven’t visited the last time – which is great!

The Train Cemetery

All tours stop at the art market in Colchani

We rather explore the backyards

Salt production

Playing with the perspective…

Our Catalan friends fly their flag at every opportunity

Los Ojos de Salar – the Eyes of the Salar, where minerals rise to the surface in gushers

What happens if you set the self-timer to 2 seconds only…

That’s better!

Inside the Hotel de Sal – everything is built entirely with salt blocks cut from the Salar

Ȋles flottantes…

Lunch in the middle of the salt flat

Llama chops with Quinoa and vegetables

Next stop: Isla Incahuasi, pretty much the centre of the Salar

And then our driver, Enrique, treats us to a little extra tour…

… to the Volcán Tunupa, 5,332 metres above sea level

… where Flamencos (Flamingos) have been sighted

Here they come…

There they go…

We have a last look at the Caldera…

… and the Salt Lake…

Then we head back to Uyuni

… and say goodbye to our new friends – Mar and Esthefany…

… Aida…

… and our driver, guide and host Enrique

What a fantastic day all around – this experience is certainly one of the highlights of our trip!

All pictures of the Salar de Uyuni can be found here.

Posted 19 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

The most adventurous bus journey of our life…   Leave a comment

Sunday 14 September 2014

When the friendly lady at the ticket office tells us that the 204-kilometre journey from Tupiza to Uyuni will take 8 hours, we already suspect that this route hasn’t been paved since 2010.  Our suspicions are confirmed when we see the coach waiting for us –

And surely, after a short stretch on the smooth tarmac that now stretches from Villazón to Potosí, another road branches off to Uyuni.

We sit in the first row having a panoramic view of the breath-taking landscape, the villages and the people living there – but also of the mostly single-track dirt road and its wash board-like surface. We see every tight edge, every landslide narrowing the piste even further, we hold our breath at every blind hairpin bend and the many river-crossings with and without water. On the Altiplano we also meet sand dunes and Llamas running around freely. What more could the adventurer possibly ask for?

Some times I miss not being on my bike…

The road climbs from 2,970 to 4,285 metres above sea level

Next stop: Atocha


More than once my dad shakes his head in disbelief that I rode this track on a motorbike and on my own four years ago…


Thanks to our excellent driver, we already arrive after seven hours at our destination, walk straight to the Hotel Julia where I stayed in 2010 and even get my old room on the third floor.

… which offers great views of the main street and the town

Uyuni by night

The Dakar is everywhere

After such an adventurous ride we think that we’ve deserved a treat – our first Llama steak.

Tomorrow we will explore the famous Salar.


Posted 18 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

A day in Tupiza   Leave a comment

Saturday 13 September 2014

A rest day can start with a lie-in – or with editing photos in bed and almost finishing a new post before breakfast. At some point we may abandon our duties and vacate our room (so that it can be cleaned), climb the roof terrace –

– and enjoy Tupiza from above –

Possibly we then go to the bus terminal to organise our journey to Uyuni the next day, followed by a stroll through the central market –

As it would be a shame to spend such a beautiful day indoors, we may carry on exploring the town –

Iglesia Nuestra Señora de la Candeleria

On the main square – Plaza de la Independencia


If you look closely you can see that the letters are made from cactus wood

It could be that we even climb the Cerro del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús –

Seems that there’s a bridge gone missing…

Nobody around who we could ask what happened here…

The Bolivian Coat of Arms

Home country or Death – we will overcome

And, after returning to the hotel and doing some more work, we may still go out looking for a nice restaurant, spot a procession on the way, curiously follow the people to a church and attend a Bolivian service –

Little did we know that we would need all the blessings we could get the following day…

Posted 18 September 2014 by Pumpy in Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip

From Argentina to Bolivia: Salta – Humahuaca – La Quiaca – Villazón – Tupiza   2 comments

Thursday 11 September – Salta to Humahuaca, Argentina

After an opulent breakfast we leave the Hotel del Antiguo Convento and head for the bus terminal, passing the old convent itself.

The bus takes us north zigzagging through Güemes, Perico, San Salvador de Jujuy, Tilcara and, climbing gently from 1,190 to 3,240 metres above sea level, to Humahuaca, our destination today.

Some impressions from the road –

We still contemplate taking the train occasionally

In Jujuy we have to change buses – the one in front is probably better suited to cope with the altitude. As it is quite a logistical challenge to shift all passengers and their luggage we wonder why they didn’t use the newer model in the first place.

Mmm, it was probably a good idea to stick to the bus…

Welcome to Humahuaca

We find a nice little hotel in the middle of town –

– then we set out to explore the city, which has its own distinctive culture and where the heaviest fighting in the country during the Wars of Independence between 1814 a 1821 took place.

Monumento a los Héroes de la Independencia

Of course, such a special place is also quite touristy

The Town Hall

La Quebrada

The much contemplated railway…

In the evening we enjoy the regional cuisine: aubergine with goat’s cheese and a Quinoa casserole


Friday 12 September – Humahuaca to La Quiaca, Argentina, and on to Villazón and Tupiza, Bolivia

Breakfast is rather frugal – but typical for the region

The bus to La Quiaca, the most northerly town and starting point of the famous Ruta 40, leaves at 10.10 hrs – or 10.40, but we don’t really mind; we are on holiday.

And promptly, half a mile further down the road…

5121 kilometres to Ushuaia…

From the bus terminal it’s less than a kilometre to the border, so we cross La Quiaca on foot to see a bit more of the place.

Ok, we admit defeat – travelling by train is definitely not an option

Both Argentinean and Bolivian immigration offices are conveniently in the same building; we fill in the necessary formularios, get our stamps and walk over the Río La Quiaca into Villazón in Bolivia.

The Dakar Rally has been a huge event in Bolivia

We rest for a few minutes on the main square –

– find the only cash point in town relatively quickly (thanks to Open Street Map on my phone) and head for the bus terminal. We have just asked a local señora if we are in the right place – like in many towns, there are different terminals for local and national/international connections – when we are approached by another lady: Van a Tupiza? Great, that’s exactly our destination today!

We pay the stately amount of 15 Bolivianos (£1.34 / €1.69) for the 90-kilometre journey…

Our luggage is securely fastened on the roof rack

We sit right in the front next to our ‘chofer’…

… and enjoy splendid views

It seems that our chauffeur has spent a bit too much time watching Formula 1 but at least they have paved the road since I’ve last been here on my bike, and so we already arrive after 1.5 hours in Tupiza. One of the many demonstrations in Bolivia blocks the first bridge into town.

Fortunately the activists decide to abandon their protest and let us through. While I am dealing with our luggage, Johannes makes friends with the locals.

The Hotel Mitru, where I’ve stayed in 2010,  is only a few streets away and we get an excellent spacious room on the first floor. And the receptionist, Edgar, even remembers me and gives us a good rate.

We feel quite tired from the journey and only leave our accommodation to have dinner at the Churrasqueria Moises – a huge mixed plate with beef filet, chops, chorizo, salad, potatoes and rice.

Tomorrow we will grant ourselves a rest day – Tupiza is such a lovely place.

Posted 16 September 2014 by Pumpy in Argentina, Bolivia, The 2014 Rucksack Trip