I got into La Paz by bus – in order to get the passport thing done asap. From other cyclists I knew about a casa de ciclista in La Paz, la casa de ciclista of Christian, a Boliviano with german roots.
The base of the casa ciclista is his Café where I was warmly welcomed by his wife Luisa. The acutal casa ciclista is an apartment in the city center where, at the time I arrived, 5 cyclists lived.
As a cyclists that’s exactly what you need, a apartment where you feel like home and get in contact with other cyclists.
After spending some time in the german embassy I got my provisional passport to travel to Ecuador and for my way back over the US I will get a new biometric passport in Quito.
La Paz is at every time of the day full of life, I enjoyed walking around. I also spend some time in the Café of Christian, ate with his family and helped his mother to prepare for her german exam.
In the casa de ciclista I met Julian & Julian, 2 french guys who have been cycling from France via northern Africa and via boat to Brasil and by bike to Bolivia. They wanted to leave on Sunday in direction Peru-Cusco as well, so I decided to join them. Due to big manifestations on the Peruvian side of the Lago Titicaca, it wasn’t clear if we could even cross the border to Peru, it was said to be complete closed.
As La Paz is deep in a valley, we decided not to cycle out of La Paz (800m altitude in dense smoke) but payed a camion to bring us up to El Alto. It was interesting to drive up in the 50 yrs old truck, we had to stop several times to fix the motor. From there we cycled easily to the Lago Titicaca, getting in the evening into the town of Tiquina, where the Titicaca is only a few hundreds meters wide. Here we got a room for the 3 of us for 2,5€, which is even for Bolivia cheap – seeing the room we knew why, the beds were rice bags and on the question about the bathrooms, the old Lady pointed only on the street in front of the house.
Then we finally got to the border, the immigration on the bolivian side went without problems and with our bikes we could cross the border bridge. On the other side we were welcomed by stones on the road and left-overs of burned tires, but the Peruvian border post was open and we got our stamps – I’m in Peru!!
With the border crossing we could also feel a change in mentality between Bolivia and Peru. I discovered Bolivians as friendly but also quiet, almost shy. In Peru everyone in villages and in the field are waving – new is also that people shouting (on a friendly way) “Mister, Mister!” or “Gringo”. For my part, I think I prefer the open way of the people in Peru.
Since getting into Bolivia the way of travelling has slightly changed, mainly because I don’t have to camp any more. As you can cycle from town to town and accommodations and restaurants are affordable (1-2€ per meal/night) I haven’t pitched my tent nor used my stove since weeks.
Our first night we spent in the non-touristic town of Juli. From there we cycled more or less falt along to the Lago Titicaca into Puno, the biggest town at the lake and also the center of the riots.
At the time we passed by this area, the entire situation has cooled down, the road was still blocked with big stones and burned tires, but for us it meant cycling with almost no traffic. Before getting into Puno a car of the Red Cross stopped. Seriously they were asking us about the situation at the Bolvian-Peruvian border, because they couldn’t get there by car!
I have also to mention that Peru was right before the presidential elections, so we passed a few elections parties and the upcoming election was the main topic in all towns.
From Puno we took the road towards Cusco. From Puno to Cusco it’s about 400km mostly flat except one pass with 4.300m. My 2 french cycling-buddies travelled very light and were in a good shape, so that I some hard times to stay with them.
Cusco – Machupichu
Now I’m in Cusco, which is definitly a nice town, but compared to the countryside also quite expensive. Cycling into Cusco was – as always in big cities – a big mess with lots of smog and traffic.
What can you do in Cuso? Of course the famous Machupichu. At first I thought about skipping South America’s most popular tourist site, but as everyone says that the Machupichu is worth doing it. Together with Ruben (cyclist from Spain) and Jan & Ulrike from Germany, we went to Machupichu by train.
Machupichu is defintely worth doing it, we had a guided tour in the ruins (among hundreds other tourists), but you can escape the tourist circus by hiking up to the Machupichu mountain with a beautiful view over the ruins and the deep sacred valley.
Tomorrow I will head north, the next part is supposed to be quite hard due to many up and downs.
Best regards from Peru!