To get to Bolivia I was planning on booking a regular coach from Cusco to La Paz. I’d enjoyed using the Peru Hop bus so much though so I opted for Bolivia Hop instead. While it’s a bit more expensive, Bolivia Hop stops at a couple of good places on the way, they help you cross the border hopefully without any jiggery-pokery and drop you off at your La Paz accommodation.
The sleep wasn’t too bad for a night bus. We arrived in Puno at 5.30am. Quite a few people got off to see the floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca, which I’d already been to last week. As there’s not much to in Puno city during the peak hours of the day it was much relief that anyone not boating was allowed to continue sleeping on the bus until we were back on our way again at 8am. We continued up Lake Titicaca towards the Bolivian border. Here you could get rid of any Peruvian soles in exchange for Bolivian bolivianos. Try saying that after a couple of beers! The exchange rate actually wasn’t too terrible. We handed in our immigration cards as we left Peru and walked up a hill. After stepping over a chain-link fence in the road we were in Bolivia. It’s hardly the most fortified border in the world. Next it was into an office to get the passport stamped by the Bolivian authorities, back onto the bus and off to Copacabana, a short drive away.
So it was adios to Peru and hola to Bolivia. I was greatly impressed by what I saw of Peru. It has an amazing natural landscape. Everyone goes on about Costa Rica and New Zealand, and rightly so, but in terms of natural beauty Peru is an underrated tourism destination. There’s so much more to the country than Manchu Picchu. That said, I never managed to see any reference to Paddington Bear, even in deepest, darkest Peru. I wonder if there’s anything to do with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to see in Bolivia?
Until a couple of weeks ago I always thought that Copacabana was either a Barry Manilow record or a big beach in Rio. Paul from Liverpool, who I met in Huacachina and later in Arequipa, said he enjoyed Copacabana and that it was nice enough to spend a day there so I gave it a go. While Copacabana has a bit of a beach on Lake Titicaca it’s hardly golden sands stuff but I suppose we were at 12,500’ above sea level. Essentially Copacabana contains a few hotels and hostels, some beachside bars, a touristy street full of restaurants/cafes/tat shops/tour offices, a town square, a residential area and locals-type shops a bit further back from the lake. While much smaller than Puno, I preferred Copacabana to its Peruvian Lake Titicaca counterpart. There’s supposed to be some nice sunset watching opportunities from the many rooftop bar terraces but disappointingly it was a bit cloudy for that tonight.