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High-Altitude Peru

a travel blog by paco


This trip is my introduction to the continent of South America. My itinerary mainly keeps me in places above 10,000ft (3000m) altitude.
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Puno, Peru




permalink written by  paco on October 18, 2009 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
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First day in Peru

Puno, Peru


I find myself just after midnight in the Lima airport. I just barely made the connection in Houston, but I have learned my backpack has not. Do I stick around another day or do I press on and let the airline take care of it? I opt to press on.

I fly on to Juliaca, then take a cab to Puno and find out later I spent way too much on cab fare. I meet up with my buddy Jason to learn he just had his laptop stolen. Apparently misery loves company!

I check out the town of Puno, which is on an estuary of Lake Titicaca. It´s oddly liberating not lugging around a lot of baggage when in a new place. I´m super-tired and the high altitude is starting to get to me, but oddly enough I am enjoying myself!

permalink written by  paco on October 18, 2009 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Peru and Puno

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Still hangin´ in Puno

Puno, Peru


I talked with the airline who lets me know my bag is in now at the Juliaca airport. Me and Jason hop on the local bus into town, and then onto a sketchier bus to the airport. The one guy there tells us to come back six hours later, because the fellow with the key to the luggage area won´t be in until the next arrival.

No worries! We´re just exploring the not-so-touristy town of Juliaca and find it´s kind of refreshing seeing a new country off the beaten track. Later that afternoon the keymaster shows up and I get my bag. Unfortunately it´s too late to leave Puno once we saunter back into town.

permalink written by  paco on October 19, 2009 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Peru and Puno

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Copacabana, Bolivia




permalink written by  paco on October 20, 2009 from Copacabana, Bolivia
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
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Border Crossing

Copacabana, Bolivia


It´s time to leave Puno, and Peru. We hop on a bus to Copacabana, just on the other side of the Peru-Bolivia border. Once we get there we learn there is a change in policy to Americans entering Bolivia. The border guards politely ask for a $135 visa application fee and I politely decline. Note that other nationalities do not require this.

So what to do....we work something out with the border guards where we officially re-enter Peru and then cross into Bolivia with an ¨entrance fee¨ of $20 per head. Now ¨bribe¨ is an ugly word, but we did not get a receipt for this, nor did they stamp our passports.

We finally make it to Copacabana which is a remarkably lovely town on the south end of Lake Titicaca.

permalink written by  paco on October 20, 2009 from Copacabana, Bolivia
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
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Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol, Bolivia


Isla del Sol is a three hour boat ride from Copacabana. On there are ancient Inca ruins and some spectacular views. A seven kilometer hike takes us from the north end to the south end. I´m slowly aclimating to the high altitude here, 13000 ft (3800 m). The Inca Trail is just a few days away so it´s nice to have some practice. The only sour note to this trip is the three checkpoints on the island where we had to pay a couple of dollars to continue. The amount wasn´t that big a deal but the principle of the thing ticked us off!

On the boat ride back we saw a floating island, which was suppose to be made of reeds but we could tell it was made of a wooden base. The reed boats on there were pretty interesting, though.

Later that night we enjoy a fantastic trucha (trout) dinner and watch the sun set over the lake.

permalink written by  paco on October 21, 2009 from Isla del Sol, Bolivia
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Bolivia, Copacabana, LakeTiticaca and IslaDelSol

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Cusco, Peru




permalink written by  paco on October 22, 2009 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
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Border Crossing II

Yunguyo, Peru


On the way back to Peru, we now have our second illegal border crossing to contend with. Helen (English) crosses in the usual way while Jason and me (American) kind of casually tiptoe our way back to Peru, since our passports say we should already be there anyway. A policeman sees us but doesn´t seem to care enough to stop us.

We take the bus back to Puno, have lunch, and then it´s a much longer haul (8 hours) to Cusco. We get the first place we can find near the neighborhood of San Blas.

permalink written by  paco on October 22, 2009 from Yunguyo, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Bolivia, Peru, Cusco and Copacabana

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Exploring Cusco

Cusco, Peru


The guys running the hostel are jerks so we opt to find a better place in the neighborhood. San Blas has a great view of the city, with narrow cobblestone streets and steep roads that in some cases only hold enough room for pedestrians.

We take care of our plans for the Inca Trail and start to enjoy the city. Plaza de Armas is the main square with two huge cathedrals and a giant plaza where all sorts of activity happens.

Everyone tries to catch up on email and we finally get some do-nothing time.

permalink written by  paco on October 23, 2009 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Peru and Cusco

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Inca Trail Prep

Cusco, Peru


More exploring of Cusco by going down to the market where all sorts of local food and crafts visited by locals and tourist alike.

We take care of the rest of the arrangements to start the Inca Trail on Sunday. After renting sleeping bags and walking sticks we head to the first briefing for our trek, where we meet our guides and the rest of the campers with whom we´ll be spending the next four days.

permalink written by  paco on October 24, 2009 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: High-Altitude Peru
tagged Peru, Cusco and IncaTrail

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