South America (Part 4): Bolivia – La Paz to Cusco, Peru

The Bolivia Hop on Bus: 

We decided to travel by bus from La Paz to Peru, where we were heading to for our hike up Machu Picchu. We had four days before our trip commenced, so thought it would be a good opportunity to see some of the countryside. 

The main road linking La Paz to Peru has been notoriously dangerous in the past, with tourists particularly being targeted. Therefore with this in mind, we wanted to go with a reputable tour company. “Bolivia Hop on” was who we booked with prior to our trip. Set up by three Irishmen who had travelled extensively through Bolivia and Peru, they know exactly what travellers want; safety, efficiency and great local knowledge. We were really impressed with them (

We had a two day journey from La Paz to Cusco, which will be the base for our Machu Picchu trip.  

La Paz to Copacabana (Lake Titicaca): 

It took around four hours to reach our first stop Copacabana. We had an afternoon here, which included a boat ride over to “The Island in the Sun”. Here there were some ancient inca ruins and we hiked for 45 minutes across the island. The hike was really difficult as Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world, at 3,800 metres above sea level! 

The lake was considered sacred by the Inca civilisation. It was well worth the hike though for the views, and we were considering it as good training for our Machu Picchu hike, although this will be at a much lower altitude. 

Crossing the Boarder: 

It appears that we are somewhat jinxed when it comes to boarder crossings in South America! What should have been a simple jump off the bus, get our passports stamped, then jump back on the bus, didn’t quite happen that way! 

When we’d got back from our trip from the “Island in the Sun”, we were given the bad news, the Bolivian-Peru border was closed to traffic due to protest strikes! 

Our other, and only option that evening that our guide gave us, was to get in a boat he’d managed to arrange, with all our bags, then jump out at a certain point right near the Bolivian border. Then there was a hike up a hill to get to said border, to cross over to the Peru side! 

We took this offer and managed to do it just as dusk fell, phew! We felt like we were being smuggled into Peru, of course everything was above board. 

Puno & The Floating Islands:

Once we’d crossed the boarder into Peru, another bus was waiting for use. We arrived in Puno around two hours later for just the one night, instead off carrying straight on to Cusco. 

Puno is known as the folklore capital of Peru. The main reason we wanted to stay here was to see the “Floating Islands” the following morning.

After the excitement of the boarder crossing, an early start and the high altitude hike, we were pretty tired as you could imagine. The Iguana Hostel (Hostel World), was our accommodation for the night. It was basic but clean, and only £5 each for a twin room. 
Our pick up was at 6am the following morning so we had an early night, but it was worth waking up for.

The floating islands, are exactly what they suggest, islands made from floating sea reeds (totora), that’s in abundance just off Puno’s coast. The islands, with just over 2000 inhabitants in total, were first built pre-Incan civilisation, by the Uros tribe. 

Traditional beliefs are not used these days but some old customs are. Locals now use the mainland for their shopping, there is solar power, and a few of the islands are “set up” for tourists. However, there is still a sense of community within the islands, children go to school here until senior school age. It certainly was an extraordinary place to visit. Did I mention that they have a woman president?! 

Puno to Cusco:

It was a breath taking journey from Puno to Cusco later that day, through the winding Andes mountain range. It took us around 7 hours with stops. I leave you with these photos which need no more words! 

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