There is no question about it. Lake Titicaca is much more good-looking on the Bolivian side. We took the three-hour bus ride around the west side of the lake to Copacabana, a town very close to the Peru-Bolivia border. It's a good ride, there are plenty of splendid views, a short stop to get your passports stamped, and you're there. It was such an easy border crossing that for the first time I was tempted to get the camera out and start taking a few snaps. But I thought better of it. It's just not worth drawing attention to yourself. Stay focused on the main goal - get across the line with minimal fuss and without having to part with cash.
We walked into the centre and started the search for a place to stay. We took a lead out of the book and went for a place called Hostal Sonia. It was a little bit of a walk from the main street but seemed comfortable enough and when we said we'd have a look at some others first, Sonia lowered her price to seal the deal. You end up doing the best haggling when you're not trying to! The price she lowered to was 40Bs, which is roughly £4, between two. Hello Bolivia! It actually took us a while to realise just how cheap that is, and stop thinking in Peruvian Soles.
When the bank opened - bizarrely at 2.30 pm - we found that we were not the only ones in this predicament. Here were other tourists who had cancelled day trips or left valuables in hotels and restaurants as a guarantee, all because of a lack of cash. Luckily, it was possible to get cash advances from inside the bank, all being well with your credit card of course, but for a 5% commission. Nice.
Drama over, we booked ourselves on a tour for Isla del Sol for the next day and went and got something to eat.
The trip to Isla del So was an interesting one. All round a very enjoyable experience but at times had me puzzled. Boats take you to the island from the port at Copacabana. These are the slowest boats in the world. Sure, it's nice to take a boat ride and enjoy the sights of the lake, but at 8.30am in the morning when the sun hasn't got high enough to thaw the effects of the cold wind, you just want to get there. It takes about two hours to reach the north side of the island- where you start if you're doing a day tour - when it would take about 30 minutes on something that shifted a little. The boats must hold around fifty people and yet they use one 50hp engine.
Country Notes and Tales From Travellers
10 months ago