From Cusco to La Paz
When on my travels to Peru to trek the Inca Trail in 2013, we were lucky enough to have just over a week after the trek to do our own thing. We spent a couple of days in Peru, in and around Cusco, but then decided to travel to nearby Bolivia which borders Peru to the right and is very easily accessible.
We opted for an overnight coach (10pm departure) from Cusco to Puno (Peru) first, to break up the journey. It was extremely easy for us to get hold of bus tickets, which we purchased from the bus station the day before. We were quite a large group travelling together (12) so we were able to get a slightly discounted rate on our tickets!
Having travelled on overnight coaches and trains in South East Asia previously, I wasn’t expecting much and had mentally prepared myself for a long night and little sleep. When the bus rolled around the corner in to the designated parking space, I was pleased to see it looked in one piece! On boarding, we were all pleasantly surprised with what we were faced with. The seats were wide and lined with a thick, padded fabric, set in rows two by two. There were large headrests, the seats almost fully reclined and there was ample leg room (although never a problem for 5″4 me!). Each seat had a storage net on the back, with a complimentary bottle of water and a snack. We all managed to get a good night’s sleep and woke up in Puno early the next morning, flagging a taxi (costing 60p per person) to take us to our hostel. We stayed in a hotel and shared double rooms – for just £6 a night!
We tried to explore later in the day, asking the receptionist to point us in the right direction. We set off, thinking we were heading towards the main area, and soon realised we were completely lost in the middle of a very derelict and run down area. We stumbled upon a market and bought lunch – a selection of exotic looking fruits including Inca berries, figs and a white and purple striped fruit which had the texture of a peach but the taste of a melon!
The others then text us, as they had managed to get to the Plaza and we hopped straight in a taxi to join them. This was much better! A pretty square followed by a row of inviting shops and restaurants, market stalls and bars. We ended up stopping off at a tiny reggae bar hidden up a flight of stairs, blasting Bob Marley and decorated with dream-catchers, woven rugs, feathers and dreadlocked bar staff. We enjoyed a few (very strong) two for one cocktails before agreeing to let the owner add a small dreadlock to each of our hair!
The next day, we took a three hour bus from Puno to Copacabana, crossing over in to Bolivia. On arrival, we arranged our bus for the following day to get us to La Paz – for a grand total of £1.50 per person! We also sorted out our hostel on the day, rocking up and asking what the price would be for the 12 of us. We got a great deal on this to, at just £3 per person! We spent the first part of the day exploring, but Copacabana is pretty tiny so the afternoon was (sadly) spent watching the football in a beer garden in the sunshine. There is a massive hippy vibe here, which is awesome, and we met a couple of people who had just been chilling out there for weeks on end!
We were up bright and early for our 7am bus to La Paz the next morning. It’s a beautiful drive, with amazing scenery and takes you right alongside Lake Titicaca. Once we had arrived, we headed straight for our hostel – Locki. I knew I wanted to stay there as I had heard great reviews from friends who had been, so persuaded the group to pre-book the night before.. just in case!
We weren’t disappointed on arrival – Locki offers a great breakfast and has everything you want in a cheap and cheerful hostel; from chill out areas and cinema room to themed nights, competitions and quizzes. Plus cheap drinks (happy hour = £1.80 for a PINT of spirit and mixer) and lovely people! Unfortunately we arrived at the time of some unrest within La Paz between the police and government and warning signs were all over the hostel due to the fact tear gas was being used:
We headed out to explore nonetheless; you could hear the protesters a mile away, so we were able to skirt around any potentially dangerous areas. Some of the group (those braver than me!) booked on to a Death Road tour for the following day – I spent my time sunbathing and reading on the roof terrace instead! In the evening, we had an excellent time getting extremely merry playing in a Beer Pong tournament! We lost..
After three drunken days in La Paz, we headed back to Cusco on one bus which took around 12 hours (stopping for 1/2 hour to cross the border) and cost us £19.50/ $28 each. The bus was luckily just as comfortable as the others and even included a blanket and a sandwich!
I can’t wait to return to this crazy, beautiful and ridiculously cheap country- we only saw a tiny snippet and didn’t even touch upon those incredible Salt Flats! There’s so much I want to do and see here; until next time Boliva! 🙂