DAYS 35 – 45: BOLIVIA
Bordering Peru and Bolivia at 3800m lies Lake Titicaca, the home of the Uros Indians who have made their dwellings on floating reed islands. By boat you will visit the floating islands during the day and then you will go that one step beyond the average tourist and spend the night with one of the Indian families on the lesser known islands Isla Amantani or Taquile. Spending some time during your travels in these local communities will provide a unique opportunity to learn more about the traditional lifestyle of the Andean people and their customs. From here it is a day’s drive to the capital of Bolivia – La Paz. This is a great place to visit a ‘pena’ club, dedicated to Andean folk music, and perhaps buy some souvenirs in one of the authentic markets such as the witches market.
Leaving La Paz you enter real Bolivia, where the Aymara and Quechua Indians scrape a living from their small plots of land in the harsh climate and paved roads are virtually non-existent. A day’s drive brings you to Potosi. At over 4000m it is the highest city of its size in the world and 400 years ago it was the largest city in all the Americas. Vast amounts of silver were extracted from Potosi and shipped to Spain in years gone by. The adventurous who have will appreciate the opportunity to go down one of these mines where mining techniques have remained unchanged for centuries. Visiting the ancient mint or having a tour around the Casa Nacional de Moneda (National Money House) also provides a good look into Potosi’s and Bolivia’s past.
Leaving the bleak Altiplano you will arrive at the shimmering white Salt Flats of Uyuni. It is possible to venture out into the salt lakes for a 1 day excursion. With no roads and only vague tracks to follow it makes for an unforgettable experience.