Woke up early to do the free walking tour of La Paz. The tour started at San Pedro square, located near it is a prison. It is a very unique prison, used to be a monastery for nuns, then a torture chamber, then a prison with a capacity of 400 people and now even over 2,000! Wifes and kids are also allowed to go in whenever they want. Kids walk in and out as well, with a school next to it. It is a very open prison, with just 10 guards the prison is running itself, a la prison break season 3! It has its own ecosystem, renting your own cell block, divided in poor and even richer areas which you pay 1,000 USD per month with hot tub and cable tv! The poor ones 5 USD per month with urinated mattresses and shared with 4 others. The prison also produces cocaine, with labs in the walls to deal it. They can easily smuggle cocoa leaves, gasoline etc in. And corrupt cops make it possible to distribute it in the outside world. They also used to put it in dirty diapers etc to get it outside. The book marching powder is written about the prison. Prison tours are not allowed anymore, so if someone offers you a tour it is a scam.
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Around 5:00 AM we arrived in Puno, our last short stop in Peru before entering Bolivia with the Bolivia hop. Next country of our trip!
5:20 AM the lights of the bus went on to wake us up for a 9 soles breakfast with over salty scrambled eggs, some kind of juice and breads with jam playing hallelujah and titanic in pan flute on the background. Luckily Alfonso was also in the bus with his Slovenian friends to make it fun!
Right after breakfast we went for a two hour boat tour to Lake Titikaka. This lake is the highest navigated lake in the world, namely 3,806 meters high. Puno is the 8th city of the country, with 200,000 inhabitants. The lake has a lot of minerals and boarders between Peru and Bolivia, which causes some political friction between the two nations.
Around 7:00 am our journey started, getting picked up at the square of Cuszo. Destination: Winicunca and Palccoyo.
Nilto, our guide, gave us an explanation of the day. We are going to cross 5,000 meters altitude so we came prepared: Agua de Florida which is alcohol mixed with flowers (smells like a nice perfume too) of which you put three drops on your hands and after rubbing your hands smell it to give you a boost, cacao leaves, altitude pills and cacao candy.
Our first stop was around 9:30 am at a small town called Checacupe, here we stopped at a market which is located next to old bridges, one inca bridge dating back to 1420 a.d. and the original Inca foundations an eb enjoyed, an colonial bridge next to it built in the 18th century by order of the King of Spain, Carlos III to collect taxes and a republic bridge dating from 1895 made from Iron for heavier transport. For 2 soles per person we crossed the Inca bridge, really shaky but cool!
Early in the morning we decided to do our own walking tour through Cuszo. First stop plaza de armas. Second san blas market. Got some nice views with the city in the back.
We are at the Indian restaurant Maikhana, where a buffet with several dishes and unlimited water for just 15 soles per person awaited us. Food was average, but nice for a change of the Peruvian cuisine.
After that we strolled at El Marquez de San Francisco with a lot of souvenir shops. Be sure to negotiate for a better price!
After that we went to San Pedro market, fun fact is that it was designed by Eiffel, and it houses not only souvenirs but also a lot of food! Cheap meals, fruits, jelly and pudding, drinks, it had it all! We tried some local berries, jelly mixed with vanilla pudding and will come back for some dinner! Walking around is fun, seeing also bizarre things like the snout of a cow being sold. Outside the market there are a lot of locals selling skinned Guinea Pigs in tons, does not look too charming.
At night we ate at Pio’s Chicken, a local restaurant which from the outside looks like a KFC. We had a lot of food, a 1/4th chicken and 1/8th chicken with rice, fries and coke for just 24,50 soles.
On the way back we booked a trip for tomorrow early in the morning, to the alternative rainbow mountains. Big day tomorrow!
Waking up to the sounds of a wild river, opening the curtains to see a huge mountain in front of you, wish all mornings were like this!
We got up early to get our bus tickets (24 USD both ways) which are valid throughout the whole day. Our entrance at Machu Picchu starts from 10 am, so we quickly packed, got breakfast and went to the bus.
The bus ride was about 30 minutes, with amazing views over the mountain range! We arrived around 9:30 am, but our tickets were valid from 10:00 am onwards for a period of 4 hours. They were quite strict on the minute about letting us in. Exactly at 10:00 am we could go.
We woke up around 6:30 am to shower and get dressed for a whole day filled with activities in the Cuszo area! After a quick breakfast in our hostel we got picked up at 7:30 am by our guide for the sacred valley tour.
The tour guide explained a lot about the usage of cacao leaves dating back to Inca times, the growth of Cuszo which now inhabits over 500,000 people. The city center is ancient and an UNESCO world heritage, there for expanding is happening towards the southern parts of the city.
Another early day, getting picked up from our Hostel in Arequipa around 5:00 am. An hour later our doubledecker bus was ready for our trip to Cuszo, 18:00 pm approximately arrival, long trip.
We had a short stop to get some breakfast at some local shops. Thought we bought chicken empanadas, ended up being cheese. First time I ever saw someone heating up six empanadas in a plastic bag in a microwave.
We stopped after a few hours of driving at lake Comsur for a view. The lake is on 4,000 meters altitude, so you kinda feel that kicking in. Here we had a view over the lake, with mountains in the background. Was not the most amazing view, because afterwards we drove on we saw more impressive sights. We could also buy clothing made by locals. The route continued navigating us next to green hills filled with alpacas, mountains and lakes.
Around 14:20 pm, after more than 4 hours in the heat of the bus, we stopped for a buffet. It was 20 soles per person, did not taste at all. As in, one of the most horrible buffets we ever encountered. After that another 3 hours before we reached Cuszo.
When lunch was done we were suppose to drive three more hours and reach our hostel at 17:30 pm, that became 20:30 pm because of the worst traffic ever.
Got a quick pizza and an Inca Kola and then to bed. Tomorrow, Sacred Valley!
After our long honey moon and a site malfunction, we finally got the site back online! Fear not, new content will follow soon, focused on our South America adventure in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil!
After reaching Arequipa early in the morning around 5:00 AM, Peru hop arranged private shuttles for everyone to be brought to their hotels.
Our hostel, Il Riposo, arranged the room for us already so we could catch some more hours of sleep. One night for two just 35 soles. They even had a room available for us at 5:00 AM in the morning so that we could took a few hours nap, great service!
First thing we noticed was the altitude, we had to adjust our breathing a bit to get used to it. It would be our first location at this higher ground, and Arequipa is a great place to slowly get adapted to it.
It’s a truism that travelling broadens the horizons — but nevertheless, expanding your mind and altering your perceptions remain some of the most powerful motivations for taking off on a trip that’s out of the ordinary.
And if you’re not satisfied absorbing new experiences as they arise and hoping that they become catalysts for changing your outlook in life, thankfully there are more instructive ways of ensuring that your next adventure is as inspirational as you hope.
With that in mind, here are five ways to make travel transformational.