The Andes is a magical place. With striking landscapes and traditional communities that live and thrive here, it is the heart of indigenous South America. Nowhere quite compares to the mountain villages nestled between the looming volcanoes in Ecuador and the picturesque town of Otavalo, home to one of the largest handicraft markets and the most beautifully dressed locals on the continent. Our last visit to the Andes was at the tip of South America in Argentina, and the last time we had experienced such colourful cultural customs was in Bolivia and Peru back in October 2012. It was a refreshing change of scenery to arrive back in the Andes. We were so excited to be a part of this world all over again.
There really aren’t many nice things to say about Potosi, a dry, dishevelled mining town 10 hours south of La Paz. The Spanish settled here over 300 years ago when they heard of a mountain made of silver. The Cerro Rico Mountain looms like an ancient worn out monster over the city. Once the richest city in the world, we expected Potosi to have an element of grandeur on the scale of Ballarat in Victoria Australia, instead we were welcomed into a rough and run down city, much like a neglected ghetto on the outskirts of La Paz.
A few hours north-east of La Paz there lies a road, a long, narrow, windy road, hugging the steep sheer mountains as it edges it´s way deep into the untamed Bolivian jungle. The road is so narrow that a passing truck, bus or car, has nothing to protect it from the dark depths of the jungle valley some 800m below. To embark on a trip along this road means the very real possibility of not making it to the end. This road is called the DEATH ROAD. Are you scared yet?
La La La Paz, what a crazy city! Our first view of La Paz was spectacular. High on the mountain the bus was squealing around the corner when the city suddenly appeared below. Nestled ever so tightly within the gorge, the cites central area sits at the bottom, while the lego-like houses of the suburbs are stacked and sprawling in chaotic order up the sides of the steep gorge walls.
Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake, at 3910m above sea level it is approximately 200km long by 60km wide, it’s really really big! The Lake spans the border of Peru and Bolivia, both countries claim to own 60% of the Lake, however the maps clearly show Peru has the majority share.