Traveling Day 22: To Arequipa Wednesday 16 August 2006
Blah the ride from Puno to Arequipa (less than 150km as the condor flies) took 7 hours, so there goes my day. All the fun hostels were full by the time I got here so I made a reservation for tomorrow and got a boring one for tonight. I look like a freak anyway because I had a lens problem on the bus and my right eye is all red now.

Anyway Arequipa rocks. It's widely considered Peru's most beautiful city and cultural capital, and just walking around a bit here immediately gave me the impression of a very lively, modern city. I'll be using this as a base for a 3-day trek through the Colca Cañon, the deepest in the world, and perhaps a 2-day climb up the 5820m El Misti volcano, which should be easier than Huayna Potosi. If I don't do the climb (depends on finding a group before I'm unacclimatised) I'll just hang around here until it's time to go to my last three destinations: Nazca (to see the lines from a plane), Ica (to go sandboarding) and Pisco (to go to the Isla Ballestas nature reserve).
Traveling Days 20-21: Viva Hansaplast! Tuesday 15 August 2006
So I woke up in Copacabana not sure what to do. My open blisters were wet and painful, but I remembered I had bought special blisterbandages from Hansaplast for my Nepal trek, not used them and brought them on this trip. I put them on - they turned out to look like oval patches of translucent skin - and immediately noticed I could walk again. So I set out on a trek and after a few hours didn't feel my blisters anymore and haven't since. Rarely been such a satisfied customer :)

Anyway I first walked the 17km from Copacabana to Yamupata (the cape of the peninsula that stretches towards Isla del Sol) because the LP said it has fantastic scenery. I enjoyed the first hour because I was walking through authentic Bolivian country side, but the landscape was nothing special and the second half of the walk was dull. Since I was all alone I paid a guy to row me across to Isla del Sol which took half an hour. I checked the sights on the southern part of the isle, wasn't impressed, and checked into a hotel.

Isla del Sol is the island in Lake Titicaca on which, according to Inca legend, the sun and the first Inca king were born. This morning I traversed the island from south to north along the high route over the hills. The LP calls it a magic place where you have to spend at least two days, but I reached the other end in three hours being once again completely underwhelmed. The landscapes in places like Pisac, Sillustani and Palca were much, much nicer. The last part of my walk, around the northern end of Isla del Sol, was nice too though.

Anyway I took a boat back straight to Copacabana, which took almost as long as walking, and immediately got on a minibus to Puno (in Peru) along with three Frenchies (50% of the backpackers here are French). At the border, 10 minutes from Copacabana, the minibus deserted us while we were going through customs, so my goodbye from Bolivia, a country I really loved and want to go back to which is very rare for me, was a rip-off. I wanted to cross the border again to go strangle the bitch who sold us that minibus ride but didn't of-course (would cost a day).

We made it to Puno by chicken bus, and now (10pm) I'm waiting for a hotel room to become available. Tomorrow morning I'm heading straight to Arequipa to start the last stretch of this journey back to Lima along the coast. Here's my travel map again:

Traveling Day 19: Copa, Copacabana Sunday 13 August 2006
Today I woke up at about 8am feeling totally refreshed (I'm a real morning bird when traveling even after skipping a night), had a fantastic monster breakfast in my hotel, visited the bits of La Paz I still wanted to see and then took a bus to Copacabana by lake Titicaca where I am now.

This Copacabana is not the one of the song (that's about a beach of the same name in Rio de Janeiro) but it's still a nice place and a sort of pilgrimage site for Bolivians. Today literally every car, bus and truck in Copacabana was adorned with flowers and confetti to go through a blessing ceremony in front of the cathedral, quite a sight. I climbed the hill next to town to watch the sunset along with a hundred other tourists (many people who are on a Peru tour come to this side of the lake to visit Isla del Sol, which makes Copacabana the only touristy place in Bolivia), but the clouds spoiled the show and I just went down early.

I came here to set out on a two-day hike on Isla del Sol, the holy island of the Inkas, but since my blisters make walking painful I'm not sure what I'm gonna do yet. I'll see tomorrow morning.

I mainly came online to edit and finish my Huayna Potosi story below and add captions to the pics, and that's done now, so now I'm gonna eat in one of the hundred restaurants that offer trout from the lake. Ciao!
Traveling Days 16-18: Mas rapido es mas bonito Saturday 12 August 2006
I'm back from my trip to the top of Huayna Potosi, a 6088m mountain in the Cordillera Blanca near La Paz. Click More to read how it went...
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Traveling Days 14-15: La Paz Wednesday 9 August 2006
I've spent the last two days in and around La Paz with Nicole, an American girl with Lebanese root who did the Uyuni tour at the same time. Today we went hiking through the Canyon de Palca not far from La Paz, the landscapes were fantastic (again). Bolivia is even more beautiful than Peru. Pictures will be for later, no time now. Tonight we had dinner with Jan and Cathy, a couple from Schoten (very near my home in Belgium) who were on Nicole's group.

Tomorrow I begin the three-day climb of Huayna Potosi, 6088m! Getting above 6000m was goal #1 of this trip so check back in three days to see if I made it :)

Added captions to the pictures btw.
Traveling Pics of South West Bolivia tour Tuesday 8 August 2006
I've uploaded a whole bunch of pictures of my three-day jeep tour through South West Bolivia to my web album. I've uploaded the original files of these pics so as to have backups; click 'Download Photo' if you want to see them in full quality. Will add captions tomorrow, gotta run...

South West Bolivia
Aug 7, 2006 - 18 Photos
Traveling Days 11-13: South-West Bolivia Monday 7 August 2006
And now for some good news :) The night bus was awful, but I did find a tour immediately and it was absolutely superfantastic. South-West Bolivia is the most beautiful region I've ever seen, and I landed in a very fun group so we merrily chatted the cold nights away.

I've got tons and tons of pictures of fantastic, otherworldly landscapes, and some movies as well, e.g. one where I run towards a hundred or so flamingos sitting on a lake until they get scared and all fly off gracefully, and one where I walk between pools of boiling mud at 4900m altitude.

Got much to tell about it all but that will be for after the trip. Will try to post some pics soon, but right now I'm heading back to La Paz by night train - I'm skipping Potosi and Sucre.
Architecture More pictures Friday 4 August 2006
I've added several pictures of the Uros Islands and of Sillustani, and one each of Tihuanacu and El Alto, to my web album. How do you like that landscape in Sillustani?
Architecture Day 10: Oruro Friday 4 August 2006
So the plan was to get to Uyuni today. I first took a bus to Oruro (4h south of La Paz), from where an express train goes to Uyuni twice a week. Unfortunately the train turned out to be fully booked, so now I find myself needing to take a night bus over bumpy roads. I've bought tickets for two seats, one for Filip and one for C., hopefully that will make it more tolerable and hopefully they won't give me shit for it. We'll arrive in Uyuni at 4am, I hope I don't have to wait for dawn outside in the freezing cold but I'm not counting on it. I'm gonna try to still arrange a tour of the salar plains and set out immediately, but I may well lose a day. In that case I can make sure I'm with a good company though.

Since I have to wait for the night bus here (no bus to Uyuni during the day) I checked out Oruro - nothing to see but not a bad place - and am now using the rest of the day usefully by uploading my best pictures to my gmail account so those are 100% safe at least. Takes ages for each pic on this slow connection but I have the time :)

Now for the medical report. Yesterday evening I got feverish but I took one of the Panadols I have with me and that helped (thanx mom). Had the feeling of having to throw up all night but didn't, and felt okay this morning. Feeling weak and a bit sick again now, but at least it's not getting worse. It's definitely not AMS, I must have eaten or drunk something bad again, bah. Yesterday I decided it was the juice I bought in Tihuanacu so I threw that away and am drinking only water now. I can't eat much but just had half a spaghetti in a vegetarian restaurant here that's ran by Hare Krishna, cool eh? :)

Some good news to finish with. The English guy I shared a room with turned out to be a very nice bloke, had nice chats with him yesterday evening and this morning as well.

Also, I've made a reservation to climb Huayna Potosi, the 6088m mountain near La Paz. Next Friday I have to be back in La Paz (I'm probably gonna skip Sucre and Potosi), Saturday morning I go to the refuge at the base of the mountain. I'll get one day of basic mountaineering training there (crampons, ice axes and roping up) and then the next two days we head for the summit. We'll be sleeping in a tent at 5600m, that's gonna be uhm, an interesting night :)

I'm so looking forward to this for three reasons: 1. I'll do my first real climb on a snow-capped mountain, 2. We should have fantastic views on lake Titicaca, 3. I'll learn and practice the main climbing skills which opens up a whole new world of climbing possibilities (in Europe I'd first have to follow a weekly course for half a year to get to do stuff like this, too much hassle for me). I just hope I get healthy again in time, but I'm optimistic about that.

Alright I'm heading to the bus soon, if I don't update the next four days it means I got on a tour of the Salar de Uyuni right away, otherwise I'll update from Uyuni tomorrow.
Traveling Day 9: Tihuanacu + the slums of La Paz Thursday 3 August 2006
So I woke up in my terrible hotel in Desaguadero, didn't bother to look for a shower and just went on the street. I had no idea where I was since I'd arrived in the dark but I walked towards the nearest corner and around it was... the border post with Bolivia :)
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Traveling Day 8: Uros Islands + Sillustani Wednesday 2 August 2006
In the morning I strolled to the harbour of Puno and got on a boat for a tour of the floating islands of the Uros people. When the boat was full we departed and went a full 50m from shore before the engine broke down. We were a floating island ourself for some 20 minutes until another boat came out and rescued us. This boat brought us to the Uros islands.
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Traveling Day 7: Puno Tuesday 1 August 2006
Today I went from Cuzco to Puno by bus. It took 7 hours but was a fun ride because the landscape was gorgeous the whole time, I took some 80 pics through the window of the bus. We made a stop on a 4300m pass somewhere, didn't seem that high at all. So now I'm in Puno, a city by the massive Titicaca lake at 3820m. In Nepal that already puts you in the mountains, here I'm still just at sea-level :)
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Traveling Day 6: Sacsayhuaman + Lotsa Pics Monday 31 July 2006
Today was a somewhat wasted day. I walked to the Inca fortress Sacsayhuaman which is right above Cuzco, but it was much less interesting than the Inca sites I already visited. Then I filled the day visiting some more churches and museums in Cuzco, but since they all don't allow any photography, I didn't feel like paying for most of them. One nice place though was the monument for the Inka king Pachacuteq, a huge statue on a 22m round tower that I could climb.

I had the whole evening off so I've invested two hours in uploading a lot of pictures from all the places I've been so far, especially Macchu Picchu. Check 'em out here. I expect to hear some ooh's and aah's or these will be the last!

Tomorrow morning I take a bus to Puno by Lake Titicaca where I should arrive in the late afternoon. The next two days I should be visiting islands on the lake (and spending the night on one) and after that I head to Bolivia, so it might be a while before I update again. Adios!
Traveling Day 5: Pisac Sunday 30 July 2006
Today I visited the village of Pisac, which hosts a big Indian market on Sundays, as well as the extensive Inca ruins in the mountains above it. The ruins were nice, and the landscapes around them are incredibly beautiful, so it was a great day and I got 250 pics to prove it :) I love Peru, what a beautiful country.

I updated the Macchu Picchu item below, and am now quickly uploading two pics to my web album, check 'em out! Have many more I want to show but the place is closing here.
Traveling Day 4: Macchu Picchu Saturday 29 July 2006
Macchu Picchu is fabulous, but unfortunately the weather sucked and as a result so will my pictures boohoo :((( Don't have time for more now (train to catch), but I uploaded more pics from yesterday (was thrown out while doing that yesterday so just had to finish it now) to my web album and I also added captions to all pictures.

Updated: Click More to read about my day in Macchu Picchu...
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