We arrived in Puno from Arequipa on Peru Hop and on the trip from Puno through the border to Copacabana in Bolivia we changed from Peru Hop to Bolivia Hop.
The border crossing went well. Greased through formalities by representatives of the company. There was a minor incident when the Bolivian immigration official decided that my wife's USD100 official visa fee should now be USD120! She resolved this attempted gouge with a terse “$100 is all I’ve got”.
We were grateful to be travelling with a company as on our own the outcome may have been quite different.
Copacabana, like Puno, is situated on the banks of Lake Titicaca. It's a tourist town with the well organised afternoon trip to Isla de Sol being the featured event.
Copacabana to La Paz Bolivia
The final leg of our Peru/Bolivia Hop trip was up to La Paz. We left Copacabana at 6pm with a scheduled arrival in La Paz at 9:30pm.
As we settled down for the journey we were suddenly interrupted by the guide; “We now get off the bus, take a ferry and meet the bus on the other side of the lake”.
The bus was warm and cosy. Outside it was freezing cold, the icy wind gusting over the lake. We climbed out the bus and were lead across to the “ferry.”
Crossing the Lake
Here we climbed into a very dilapidated unseaworthy looking motor boat. Once onboard the captain started ripping the engine starter cord. With every pull the engine spluttered and died. And all the while he was attempting to start the engine the "ferry" was drifting further and further away from the safety of the shore.
On the seventh pull the engine spluttered into life. Success at last! The initial cloud of evil smelling exhaust fumes was accompanied by some sighs of relief and nervous laughter.
This relief was soon replaced by coughing and gagging as the evil smelling cloud poured into the partly enclosed seating area of the cabin. In a vain attempt to filter the fumes passengers clutched scarves and jackets over their noses and mouths.
Despite the freezing strong wind there was no respite.
Fortunately the trip was short and we soon disembarked onto a desolate windswept dock. From here we made our way towards the blinking lights of a bleak but potentially sheltered plaza. The area was busy with street food vendors, small shops and passengers from other buses waiting for their transport. After buying some food we huddled around waiting for our bus to come across.
The area of the lake disgorging buses was in darkness and it was impossible to see the progress.
After about an hour the bus arrived and we gratefully returned to its warmth and comfort. The rest of the trip was uneventful until we arrived in La Paz.
The streets crowded with taxis. Pavements teeming with people and from our cosy seat it looked quite intimidating.
The bus stopped on the corner of a busy street. Where the guide started calling out the names of hostels and hotels that were out of the planned drop off zone for the bus.
As ours was one of these we were then offloaded with our bags onto the crowded pavement. Fortunately the guides stayed and negotiated our transfers with the taxis … at an agreed and reasonable trip cost.
Our accommodation in La Paz was in a new apartment at Luxstone Executive and Suites. It was spacious and comfortable with a bedroom and a separate lounge.
Bolivia Hop Summary
The Peru/Bolivia Hop experience was enjoyable, interesting and good value for money. We met fun people, enjoyed outings and meals with them. With our varying schedules we parted and then met up again.
If you are planning to go to Peru to visit Machu Picchu investigate Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop. You can get to Cusco either from Lima or La Paz and this hop on hop off adventure will be a fun addition to your vacation.
- When taking tours try to select companies owned and managed by locals. The guides usually have added passion and local knowledge which makes them more engaging and authentic.
- Arriving in La Paz was the only part of our Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop experience that wasn’t clearly understood ... until we arrived! From the start in Lima every stage and arrangement was clearly communicated with regard to the pickup hostels and hotels. In La Paz this was not specified so at the last minute you’re informed whether you’re in or out of the bus!
- Peru Hop and Bolivia Hop run very tight and disciplined schedules. With the guides and local staff coordinating visits and drop offs and pick-ups with Japanese precision!