Courtesy of Eugenia Pactitti, read on!
We began our expedition phase with a 5am wakeup only to be told that the bus wasn´t showing up and there was an unexpected last minute change of plan meaning that rather than trekking in the Apolobamba ranges, we were going a short 2 hour drive out of La Paz for a 3 day trek including a 5,300mt summit.
After about 15 minutes setting up camp, we realised that we were in for a shock due to the freezing cold weather. Dinner and hot drinks did little to warm us up, with most of us shivering our way through the night that our local guide Pedro estimated had got down to -7 or -8!
The next day´s trek was fairly straightforward, ending at the base of the peak we were to climb the following day, at the shores of a beautiful lake.
The following day, we were up early, leaving camp set up and beginning the roughly 5 hour journey to the summit of Peak Austria. Despite the 5,300mt altitude, everyone did exceptionally well, exceeding their own expectations and made it to the peak just as it started to snow! The journey back down was a bit of fun, with us shuffling, shoe skiing and occasionally sliding on our arses down the steep slope! A great day all round!
The final day was just returning to Tuni, the small village where we started the trek and returning to La Paz for rowdy St. Patrick´s Day celebrations at the local English pub.
We then dropped our Bolivianos and found some Soles as we took the bus across the Bolivian-Peruvian border to Puno. Upon our arrival we busily set about doing our laundry and booking restaurants for the night´s meal. Crazy stuff! We found Puno, the city by the shores of the incongruous splash of sapphire that is the majestic Lake Titicaca to be very charming, especially the taxi ride on a non-motorised tuk-tuk to the dock! Next up was the 2 hour, very slow boat ride to one of the floating reed islands out on Lake TC. After a short stop here, we headed to the island of Taquile, where we passed back through time in a vortex. Our accomodation was a wonderful homestay. After a thorough tour of the island and a sunset covered by clouds (which did not disappoint), we donned the Peruvian traditional dress and partook in a night of dancing and festive singing (Bohemian Rhapsody) around a fire.
The following day we kayaked for an hour and a half (at a very speedy pace) back to the mainland where we were met by another local Peruvian family who gave us accomodation and excellent traditional cuisine. We had glorious weather, so much so that Max, James and Gen even took a dip in the world´s highest, largest, deepest, widest, longest, shiniest, wettest, bluest navigable lake in the world. But to warm up, we played some ultimate frisbee and then took on the locals in beach volleyball! The beach volleyball attire was not quite as flattering as the Brazilian team…
That night, we again danced and sang our way into the local´s hearts. It was a really rewarding experience to see the way that the local Peruvians live in one of the world´s most beautiful places.
Max and Gen.
ps. thankyou for reading