Escape to Coroico

As reported by dearest Hubby, we have indeed split up, well just for a few days anyway! The more hardy family members staying in Copacabana to explore further whilst Lara, Erika (Martin’s mum) and I take a bus to La Paz from Lake Titicaca (involving a short lake crossing where the bus floats across on a dubious looking ferry (raft?)
20130124-134317.jpgThe coach crossing Lake Titicaca on its ferry come raft

… passengers, thankfully take a small boat…then a cab across the city and a minivan straight on to Coroico, two and a half hours away and a massive 2500m drop in altitude!

You’ll have gathered we are now in Bolivia! The border with Peru cuts across lake Titicaca so we’d first spent a few days in Puno, Peru, a scenic 10 hour tourist bus trip south from Cusco, stopping at sights along the way. From there, a fabulous trip out to the famous floating Uros islands made entirely of reeds and the remoter islands of Taquile and Amantani where we stayed overnight with a local family… But more of that in another post.

Then another bus trip south, over the border, where Ben worked hard to negotiate the best exchange rate from the many roadside money changers, for a $20 bill to give us some local Bolivianos, and on we went to Copacabana. We started out six months ago in Copacabana, Rio de Janiero, Brazil. And now here we were back in Copacabana, but a very different one!

20130124-134557.jpgLara in the garden above beautiful Copacabana

Lake Titicaca stands at about 3900 meters above sea level. La Paz is similar and many people suffer from the lack of oxygen and high altitude effects. After Erika had spent most of our three days in gorgeous Copacabana (much nicer, in my book than the Rio de Janiero one! Smaller,safer, a bit hippy, slighty better coffee and cheap enough to stay at one of the best places in town with fab views!) it was time to do something! Coroico at just 1500masl, sits on the slopes of a deep valley, dropping down between Andes and Amazon, in stunning subtropical cloudforest.

The journey down was gorgeous. After climbing over the high point at 4200m and out of the Altiplano valley where crowded La Paz is snugly wedged, we wind down down down through cloud into deep valleys, thankfully, on the new and paved road that replaces the old ‘death road’! That still makes for an exhilarating cycle trip for many – maybe not us though, on which cyclists still regularly lose their lives! Our new road has already suffered some landslides where there are huge piles of rubble an we have to go slow over the gravelly remains.

We could feel the air getting warmer and oxygen filling our lungs, as we climbed again after dark into the little town of Coroico and through it to the muddy track that leads up to Sol y Lunar, the Eco lodge where I’d tried to make a reservation but nothing was confirmed! Its a Then the wheels of the minivan started to spin and we could go no further! The driver offered to help carry everything the half km or so up the muddy stony pitch-black track but with cases and ruchsacks, altitude sickness and a sleeping 5 yr old, it seemed beyond us! We were planning to go back to town and find a hostel if we could (though its a busy Satuday night and apparently richer La Paz folk flock here for their weekends and it gets busy – eek – when a girl appeared through the darkness on her way home from the lodge… And when she heard Lara, she said ‘oh are you the people coming from Copacabana! And said she’s been waiting for us, called a local taxi and we finally make it up to Sol y Lunar. A small climb up a couple of windy paths took us to Casa Rosasa, our little rustic cabin. She showed us the outside loo and shower and then was gone! We wondered whether we’d made a mistake as we found our way to the lttle restaurant where they reluctantly served take away sandwiches, but waking in the morning to wonderful sights and sounds of the forest, we realised we’d arrived in paradise!

20130124-135018.jpgBreakfast in paradise

20130124-135258.jpgThe amazing view from Sol y Lunar

So the three of us are having an utterly relaxing time in this Bolivian Eden, Lara swam in the (icy cold) swimming pools (although then had a fever!), now its warmed up we have all bravely swum, we’ve had superb massages and we’ve wandered around the forest paths looking at the diverse flowers and trees, listening to squawking of exotic birds… Although they’re hard to see in the dense foliage…
20130124-135441.jpgIs it a bird?

20130124-140004.jpgThe chilly but lovely pool hidden in the forest

Martin is right! Spending time with 5 and now 6, all in each others pockets 24×7 is full on and can sometimes be draining. As other gap year families attest, it can be truly refreshing to take some time apart!

The downsides are leaving Martin free to blog whatever he wants without moderation or punctuation (!) and having to do my own blogging from my phone without the usual photo editing etc. Also, having an occasional freak out when I haven’t heard from them and start to fear they’ve fallen off a rock face, been involved in a bus crash or drowned in a freak storm on Lake Titicaca (?! I have a vivid imagination at these times). Wifi at Sol y Lunar is a little patchy to say the least so that doesn’t help!

I lost Lara when she spent time playing with two other children who, it turns out, are the gardener’s children. They’d been playing in the Children’s area where there’s a little rustic house, sandpit, swing and pots to make sand cakes, then they were gone! After wandering and calling all over the place, I discovered she’d gone to their house and of course was fine!!
20130124-135810.jpgLara made me this lovely mud cake in the kids area

We have found ourselves comparing and competing on budget too but there’s little contest, with us eating at the little restaurant on site and having little else to spend money on whilst they have checked into a nice aparthotel and already enjoyed an eight course tasting menu at a fine dining establishment nearby! Although the next day I think they self catered so maybe it will even out! And I mustn’t forget to take into account our extra journeys and the wonderful massages we had.

Bolivia is pretty good value – our massages were about £12 each and a private minivan for three to bring us the 2.5hr trip to Coroico was £20. We could’ve taken a shared minivan for £2 each but were feeling frivolous! Petrol costs under 40p a litre!

Today, Lara and I will head back to La Paz for a few days to join them and we’re looking forward meeting up with anther British gap year family who are arriving from Chile which we’re really excited about. Erika will join us a few days later so she can avoid the dizzy heights of la Paz and the Altiplano as long as possible and enjoy Coroico a little while longer!

I’m already thinking of possible side trips I might take with Ben and Zoe as we continue, although I think Martin may insist on his turn with just one child!!

20130124-140243.jpgOur lovely Casa Rosada at Sol y Lunar

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. katebil
    Jan 24, 2013 @ 21:09:39

    Wow, that sounds like an epic journey to a fantastic location! Enjoy the massages while you can and before the calculations are done on who is spending the most! Kate xx


  2. Fi
    Jan 25, 2013 @ 10:20:27

    Love reading your blogs, makes me feel warm, It’s a bit like being inside a snow globe here, ..xx


  3. Trackback: From Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Bolivia | The Clark Family's Amazing Adventures

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