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Sanctuary, bus on raft and colored desert
Last updated: 12. February 2010 - 10500 Clicks - Enable Print View
La Paz, Bolivia, 15 October 2009, 17 degrees Celsius 

Machu PicchuFrom one extreme, the chain of mountains near Huaraz with over 50 white mountains over 5700m, we drove into the next: Lima, Peru's capital and also home to one third of Peru's population! Unfortunately, time pressure allowed us only a short stay in Lima. From the current capital, we flew to the former Inca capital Cusco - or from 0 meters to 3,400 meters above sea level. Once we arrived in the beautiful and friendly Cusco we got to feel the magic of Machu Picchu - almost all the hostels were fully booked. So we drove on to Aguas Calientes, the village below the famous Inca site and got to know the first "secret" of Machu Picchu: Go to the bus stop latest at 04:00 in the morning, so that you can catch the first bus at 5:30 to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Like that you will be among the first to visit the site at 06:00. Our belief that 04:00 was early, was immediately taken away: During high season it's 03:00. We followed the advice and arrived the next day around 04:03 at the bus stop - as number 26 & 27 in the queue.. ;-) But the sight of the ruins made us forget the crowds immediately! It's definately one of the most impressive places we've ever seen with a spectacular location on top. But once again, a description is less valuable than photos...

Bus on wooden raftFrom Cusco we took a bus to Bolivia's border and we unfortunately got again the confirmation that daybusses are usually the safer choice: the night before the driver of a nightbus overlooked a curve with the result of 12 dead travellers... It showed us how lucky we have been on our trip with rally-bus-drivers in Ecuador or in the 4x4 of the two Germans, in which we navigated narrow roads with incredible slopes. Crossing the border into Bolivia, we were now in the poorest country in South America: Although Bolivia has the largest exploitable natural gas reserves in South America, two thirds of the population live in poverty. While President Eva Morales sais that the illiteracy rate is 3%, it is still estimated at 20-30%. What was written in the Travel Guide for Ecuador, is even more true here: even the poorest backpacker is rich in the eyes of locals as he could afford a flight to South America...

Salar de UyuniThe bus took us from the border Peruvian to Copacabana, Bolivia, a small town on Lake Titicaca at 4000m. The lake has an immense surface of 8,000 square kilometers, equivalent to one fifth of the size of Switzerland. From relaxed Copacabana we moved on towards La Paz. After a short bus ride we had to change into a boat while our bus crossed the 100m narrow part of Lake Titicaca on a wooden raft! The highway into La Paz was the most impressive bit of what we've seen from major cities: The road leads into the city at the highest point at 4,100 meters altitude so that you can see the city with it's 1,000 meters difference in altitude from above... Next we boarded a train that took us past a blue lagoon with countless flamingos to Uyuni, the starting point for the famous Salar de Uyuni. The largest salt lake in the world stretches over 12,000 square kilometers. For us it was not just the salt desert that was a highlight, but also the nearby lagoons, with its many colors. The clear air and blue sky on 4'000m to 5'000m help the surreal colors of the desert. By spending a night at just under 5000m in a room which was only 3 degrees Celsius warm, we have an experience more that will be remembered ;-) The 3-day tour ended at the border with Chile as well as the proper Spanish we could understand without problems ended, but we were soon comforted by the fertile vineyards...

See ya, we've gone away.
Corina & Andri
Pictures to this article:
Two highlights of our trip in one update: The sacred city of Machu Picchu and the incredibly colourful salt desert Salar de Uyuni. Furthermore fotos of our way through south Peru and Bolivia. - View pictures

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