La Paz, Bolivia

March 9th, 2017

La Paz, Puno, Lake Titicaca & Copacabana 

So from Cusco, Peru I had taken a 24-hour bus ride to La Paz with Bolivia Hop Company via Puno, Lake Titicaca and Copacabana. I highly recommend taking this bus company as you get the option to jump on and off whenever you want for a set price and the seats were super comfy.

Lake Titicaca was probably the only thing worth seeing. Known as the highest lake in the world, you can see people living on these floating straw islands. It was pretty amazing!

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I wouldn’t recommend visiting Puno as it’s just a city off the shore of Lake Titicaca but there’s isn’t much to see there. Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca and worth a short visit for the cathedrals and shore front.

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La Paz

There really isn’t all that much here, it’s quite a dirty city with a lot of traffic and pollution, so I don’t recommend staying here for very long. For all you thrill-seekers out there, I recommend doing Death Road, which is one of the most dangerous cycling paths.

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However, if staying for a night I do recommend an amazing café called Mundo Café. Opened by a Scandinavian guy, the Café has a mixture of healthy options including acai bowls, veggie burritos, Mexican bowls and a range of smoothies.

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If you do have time I would also recommend going on the cable cars, as the view is beautiful. There are also other attractions including the Witches market and the Valley of the Moon tour.

If you’re planning to stop over in La Paz for longer and have a higher budget then it’s worth splashing out on the Michelin Star restaurant, Gusto.

With some of the richest Bolivian flavours such as pink llama and eucalyptus with swiss mint, it’s sure to challenge your taste buds. Note this is probably outside of the typical back packing budget with tasting menus costing £39 for five courses.

Sucre

From La Paz it was another 14-hour overnight bus ride to Sucre. This is a city in the Southern sights of Bolivia and a definitely worth a visit if travelling through Bolivia.

Think colonial architecture, couples enjoying ice cream in the sun with cute lattes in cosy cafes.

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I stayed in the most beautiful hotel named Hotel Independencia, which was also situated really close to the town centre. However, if travelling solo and prefer to stay in hostels, one of the most recommended hostels is the Beehive hostel.

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Top things to do:

  1. Square Pedro of Anzúrez and Mirador Café
  2. Condor Café
  3. Rock Climbing
  4. Olga Molina Navajas for Saltenas

To get to the Square Pedro of Anzurez you have to walk up a little hill but the view is 100% worth it and I would also recommend having a drink outside at the Mirador Café over looking Sucre.

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The Condor Café was my hidden secret, the equivalent to Mundo Café in La Paz. I think I ate here for both lunch and dinner one day. The Australian owner opened this not for profit café and donates all of the profit to local communities in Sucre.

They specialise in vegetarian food but it’s super delicious and real cheap too. The honey-coated pancakes with chia seeds and strawberries are a must order!

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In the Confor Café they have an indoor climbing wall where you can practise and also book rock climbing lessons with a company called ‘Climbing Sucre’.

The rock climbing sessions are on an outside wall as opposed to in the centre. I couldn’t recommend doing this enough. It was scary I’m not going to lie, but you feel so accomplished once making it to the top. The combination of strategic thinking and lower body strength was truly a challenge.

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Another thing to do is to try the salteñas (savoury pastries) in Olga Molina Navajas. It’s quite a hidden place but you can buy them for £1 each and they taste absolutely delicious!

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Oh and one more thing…Sucre is the chocolate capital of Bolivia! So calling all chocolate lovers, you have to try the melted chocolate espresso for 60p in Para Ti Chocolates.

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Potosi

There wasn’t too much to do around here aside from the explosive mines. I personally did not choose to join this tour as did not agree with the miner’s working conditions. So I wouldn’t recommend including Potosi in your travels.

But if you do happen to stay here I recommend the hotel Libertator, which had clean comfy rooms and is located close to the town centre.

Salar de Uyuni

I have written a separate post for the Salt Flats in Salar de Uyuni which you can find here.

Lagoons

After the salt flats our next stop was San Pedro Atacama, Chile. We drove across the desert in our Toyota 4x4s, stopping off at some of the most beautiful scenic lagoons I’d ever seen.

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lagoons

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The Salt Flats

March 16th, 2017

This was by far my favourite part of the entire trip in South America. The Salt flats were just incredible, I remember being amazed at the images before going but when you get there it’s a completely different experience. I honestly felt like I was in heaven.

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Q: So what exactly is the science behind the salt flats?

A: Approximately 30,000 years ago, most of southwestern Bolivia was covered by a series of prehistoric lakes in the lowest point of the Altiplano plateau. The water leached salt from the surrounding mountains and these massive deposits remained when the lakes dried up. The Salar contains many important elements, including sodium, magnesium and potassium. It’s contains almost half of the world’s reserves of lithium (used in most batteries, cell phones and other devices).

The bright white landscape stretches for more than 4,000 square miles and the flat surface creates an optical illusion void of objects that help the eye understand perspective or depth of field. If the surface is wet, it turns into a shimmering mirror that perfectly reflects the sky. The region does not get much rainfall, but overflow from nearby lakes floods the flats during the southern hemisphere’s summer.

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As I joined a tour for this part of my trip it was all arranged for us. But if you are travelling alone I would suggest finding three other people to share a car with and also take some amazing photos!

The best time to visit the salt flats is springtime (September-November), as it is not too cold and there is more sunshine. However, I went around rainy season (March and had the unique experience of seeing the salt flats reflecting like a mirror.

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Some key tips before going:

  • Check the weather, as you want to be able to get the reflection for the best photos.
  • Wrap up warm (pack layers) and wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet
  • Pack sunglasses, hats, gloves and strong sunscreen
  • Make sure your camera is fully charged
  • Pack snacks and water (tours don’t usually provide water and so it’s essential to stay hydrated because of altitude sickness as you go up to 6000 metres above sea level)
  • Bring props for your photos and get creative!
  • This is a one a lifetime experience and I really recommend going for the longer tour and staying for sunset as you’ll want to spend as much time there possible

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Just outside Uyuni is an antique train cemetery which you will definitely pass through on the tour. The railway was built towards the end of 19th century and mainly used by mining companies until its collapse in the 1940s.

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