Je bekijkt de reis...
Reisverslag travelling through the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes
1 augustus 2016
travelling through the Bolivian and Peruvian Andes
This might be the last travelling update before I arrived back in NL, so you better enjoy it!!
Let me tell you a bit about my stay in Bolivia. First of all it’s a very beautiful country with very friendly people. Most of the women still dress very traditionally. Not because they want to be photographed by tourists, but because it’s in their culture. Apart from the colourful clothes, they also use the typical colourful cloaks to carry anything on their back and shoulders. This can be handicrafts or food to sell at a market or just along the street, but often they use it to carry their little kids to wherever they want to go. These women must be very strong. And it’s mainly the women who are selling things and carry the kids. It’s clear that the women keep the country running.
The first area I visited in Bolivia turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I’ve even seen. I made a trip through the Uyuni salt lake and surroundings. The area is part of the Andes and has an altitude between 3600 and 4900 m.a.s.l. Most of it is very dry and deserted. During the day it’s very warm, during the night it’s unacceptably cold. Because of the high amount of minerals in the soil, the mountains and hills have many different colours, which become even more brilliant because of the sun. Within this dry area there are some amazing coloured lakes full of flamenco’s and llama’s and vicuñas (family of the llama but more elegant and not domestic). The last day we visited the salt lake itself. Imagine standing in a big white field, seeing only white salt wherever direction you look, with mountains and cactus to decorate the landscape.
After this amazing experience I went to the city of Potosi. This city is situated next to a big hill called cerro rico (rich hill) because it’s full of silver and other expensive minerals. For many centuries the Indians and later the Spaniards have mined this hill and today the mining is still going on. Working conditions unfortunately haven’t improved much in the last centuries and most miners die very young because of accidents during the explosions but especially by the toxic gases that escape during these explosions. That’s why the Spaniards used especially Indian people and African slaves to work there, while they would use the silver to send to Europe and make money.
The old center of Potosi has a very colonial style and architecture, like most cities in this part of the world. An even more beautiful colonial city in Bolivia is Sucre. Although it’s a big city, the ambience is very relaxed and most streets are small and quiet. There’s a big variety in the way people are dressed, from traditional to very modern. One evening there was a procession of gay, lesbian and transgender people to promote their acceptance.
Another evening I went to see a dance performance of folkloric dances. I was overwhelmed by the different styles of music, dances and especially clothes. Some very colourful, some very basic, some very extravagant.
From Sucre I went to the other capital of Bolivia, La Paz. Sucre used to be the capital until La Paz claimed the title later and now the powers are divided between the two cities. The city of La Paz resembles me of a big soccer stadium. Its center lays in a small valley surrounded by hills and these hills are covered with houses so after sunset the hills around you are full of light.
Close to La Paz there’s a dirt road called the world most dangerous road. In former times cars had to pass the narrow windy road and often lost their way so the fell down several hundred meters down the cliff right next to the road. Fortunately nowadays there’s a better road and this dirt road is mainly used by tourists going downhill on a mountainbike, because the road starts at 4600 m.a.s.l and drops down to 1200 m.a.s.l. Of course I wanted to experience this and as you can notice, I didn’t drop down the cliff.
The last place I visited in Bolivia is the Titicaca Lake, claimed to be the world highest navigable lake, and shared with Peru. On the Bolivian side there’s a big island, Isla del Sol, in former times a place where people still lived in traditional ways but in the last years totally taken over by tourists. Still it’s nice to see the old temple ruins, a holy stone shaped as a puma (Titicaca is Quechua for “puma stone”), old houses and a very old stone road running from north to south.
After saying goodbye to a friend who accompanied me the last week in Bolivia, I continued to Peru, the last country before arriving back home. On the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca I visited the again some floating islands. Although again very touristic, I really liked to see how the build and maintain these islands, and how they combine the modern technology with the old traditions. For example, the islands themselves, the houses on the islands and the boats are still made of reed, but for electricity they use solar panels.
I found out that Peru is more touristic than Bolivia. I can’t really understand why as Bolivia has a lot to offer. One reason more people go to Peru is because of some Inca ruins somewhere up in the Andean mountains. Of course I went there too. First you have to go to Cusco, the old Inca capital. It’s not a big city, but very beautiful and all streets running from the main square are going uphill so it’s a nice exercise to walk around there. Most streets are built with cobbled stones which gives the city an even more medieval ambience. The only bad thing in Cusco is that you hardly see any real Cusqueño (inhabitant of Cusco), it looks more like a European city with all the while tourists. Again, it’s for a reason. Around Cusco I visited some smaller Inca settlements. It’s amazing how they could built all these farmlands on terraces high up on the hills.
After seeing these smaller ruins I went on a 4 day trip with another 20 people and guide through the mountains to arrive on the base of the most famous Inca ruins, Machu Picchu. The group turned out to be one of the nicest I have met in my life and we had a lot of interesting conversations and an unforgettable party one night.
To get to the ruins themselves is quite a show. The road climbing to the top opens at 5.00 am. Like a music festival people are queuing hours before to enter first. So we stand in line around 4.30 am and a bit after 5.00 am started climbing to the top of the hill to see the Machu Picchu (which means “Old Mountain” in Quechua). At 6am we arrived at the entrance, where even more people where queuing because most of them took a bus up. Luckily we got in quite fast and our guide took us on a tour all through the area before it became too crowded. The Inca ruins I had seen before are nothing compared with this incredible big and well maintained city. Apart from this the views from MP are fabulous. You can see many photos and documentaries about it; being there is something different.
At this moment I am in Arequipa, taking a relaxing day before going on a 3 day trip into the so-called world deepest canyon, the Colca Canyon. After that there are just a few days left before arriving in Lima. Hoping that nothing bad happens these last days, I will be back in Amsterdam on August 11. If you can’t wait to see me, feel free to pass by at Schiphol that day.
1 augustus 2016 21:17 | Door: stef
I am happy you are still enjoying the trip and had some experiences that were extraordinary, even after travelling half of the world this last year. I am just missing the report from Argentina.
1 augustus 2016 22:17 | Door: Hanneke
Hey Bram! Geniet nog van de laatste 10 dagen!! Geniet nog ff met volle teugen! Alvast wens ik je een goede vlucht en welkom in NL!
2 augustus 2016 09:34 | Door: Leo
Bolivia blijft gelukkig een mooi land met zijn kleurrijke bevolking afgaande op jouw reisverslag en mijn eigen reisherinneringen. Bedankt voor je mooie verhalen en alvast welkom terug op de Hof.
4 augustus 2016 15:05 | Door: Bea
ja Brammetje, nog 1 week en dan sta je weer met je voeten op NL-grond na dit geweldige, bijzondere, enerverende jaar. Zoals je weet zal ik blij zijn je volgende week weer vast te kunnen pakken en de verhalen met ondersteunende foto's allemaal nog veel uitgebreider te horen!
Geniet nog van deze laatste dagen. Alvast een dikke knuffel
En Stef: kijk eens bij het verslag van 1 juli!!!!
6 augustus 2016 14:04 | Door: Bernhard
Thanks a lot for keeping me updated with your notes and so giving me a share of your interesting and unforgetable last year.
By the way, Maren an I have a little daughter now. Born 30th of june, Henrike Lou is her name. So Hello from her to you also...
Come back safely,