Exploring Bolivia – Lake Titicaca

This is where the world was born.

The lake is believed to be the birthplace and home to the gods which created the world. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, on the Border with Peru on the western side of Bolivia. The lake is at 3800 metres, but due to it’s size it’s easy to believe you are sea level.

We started from La Paz on a road trip with Humberto who runs the Equine therapy for kids, Adri and Ellie. It took us firstly up to El Alto and then across the Altiplano to the great lake.

To get to Copacabana we had to get a lift across the lake on a barge. It was hard to believe what these boats carry! This was the only way across the lake at it’s thinnest point.

We arrived in Copacabana near sunset and watched the brilliant colours across the lake.

We managed to book a private boat to take us across to the Isla de Sol. Heading to the island in the twilight. It was a cloudless night, this coupled with the high altitude and lack of city light made the stars clearer than I had ever seen. There were two falling stars which seemed to hang for ages. It was easy to see why this place was regarded to be the realm of gods.

We arrived on the island in the dark and had to walk a very thin plank jetty to get to shore from the boat. We were taken to the dock used by locals. There was not enough space on the plank to put two feet next to each other, with a drop in to the lake at each side.

It was about a 200 metre hike up the side of the hill in the dark to get to the lights at the top. This really reminded us of the altitude, thankfully months in La Paz had prepared us for this.

After getting some directions to a hostel the boatman headed home himself. We threw our belongings into our beautiful island accommodation and set out for our first taste of ‘trucha’ the island trout renowned all over the country. It certainly did not disappoint!

We had arrived in the night so the morning was the first day to see the lake from the island. We were all up for sunrise and our first glimpse of the paradise we’d woken up in was breathtaking! 

The island was waking up and people were going about their daily business. There are no vehicles at all on Isla del sol so the only modes of transport are your feet, a donkey or a llama. 

We waved goodbye to the rest of our party who had to head back to La Paz for pesky things like jobs! 

We were kind of undecided as to what we should do on our first full day on the Isla as we were supposed to be chilling…..however having contemplated the map we decided to hike to the other end of the island and stay over night at the other end. Not the relaxing mini break we’d envisioned but seemed to beautiful an opportunity not to hike the 3800-4100m above sea level island now we were here. 

The track was clearly marked and we got to the top of some of the highest peaks on the island which did not disappoint us. Each and every corner we turned or peak we climbed was breathtaking and we saw probably 30 other tourists in the whole day. Absolutely beautiful day so we knew we’d made the right choice.

After a 14km of trekking we bushwhacked down the side of a 4100m peak to an island village called Challapampa. This was a small fishing village at the other end of the island. Hostel prices were between 25 and 40 bolivianos (£3-£5pp) and they were used to tourists. 

The village was a mix of the old and new. The old ways of keeping animals and island life, mixed with new tourism. Pigs and donkeys wandering freely and hostels in nearly every building. We went in search of more trout that evening but as there was a village fiesta we had to settled for pastel instead. We had another lovely hostel with another beautiful lake view to wake up to. 


The next day we decided to hike back to the other side of the island to get the boat back to the mainland. The return trail followed the coast and not the peaks so was a faster track with completely different scenery.

We met some pigs.

Then this dog.

He befriended us early on the trail and showed us which track to take when there were two options. A very smart friendly boy. However we found later the dog was hated by locals. Apparently it had killed over 100 sheep. We had befriended a killer! But he got us back to the other side of the island so what’s a few sheep amongst friends huh? 

The trek back took us through more villages where we got to see more about Bolivian rural life, vastly different from life in cosmopolitan Sopocachi, La Paz. 

The boat back in the day was a very different experience. Crammed in with other gringos, it was much better on the private charter under the stars! 

Back in Copacabana we visited one the oldest churches in Bolivia and had a wander round the town. This is a typical touristy seaside town. Still with beautiful views and amazing buildings but very much geared to tourists. 

After a bit of walking around town and two more lots of trucha (felt we should make up for missing out the day before!) we grabbed a 20 Boliviano bus back to La Paz shattered but with a renewed thirst to get travelling again! 


Just a normal weekend in La Paz…..

So now we kind of live here at the moment we’re still having an amazing time but the times are pretty similar week in week out. However, every now and then a few days come along and really remind me that this isn’t just ‘everyday life’ and I’m having an epic time! 

Saturday afternoon was the time, months of build up, months of grooming, gentling leading round his field, learning voice commands, trying on the bridle, trying on the saddle, attempting long reining (the less said about that the better…..) and Saturday was the day. First time on board Futuro, my little hero, my protege, the little spotty monkey who stole my heart. Would he be calm? Would he have a melt down? Should he throw me on the floor and try to stamp on my head? These were all the questions we all had as I gently led him to the mounting block (pile of earth), gingerly leant over him then hoisted myself into the saddle……he had a little step, steadied himself with this great weight on top, turned to look at my foot presumably wondering why I was no longer stood next to him, and off he ambled. Apparently completely unconcerned about the whole situation….! 

Well needless to say it all got a bit emotional! I was so proud of this once bossy, stampy and terribly nippy pony that I burst into tears at how good he had been. Futuro wasn’t sure what the issue was but wouldn’t take his face away to let me get over myself. But it couldn’t have gone better for the first time on board a 3.5yo stallion!  

Then no time to sit down and relish my achievements off we went for an adventure beyond Jupapina! A vast space we’d never had the time or inclination to see before, as when you’re living your life you don’t always step out your comfort zone. Adri, Ellie and I jumped in the pick up with maestro Humberto and rattled and bumped all the way through Mecapaca. It was beautiful. The further we drove the greener it got, the warmer it got, the more colonial the buildings were until it felt like we were in Spain in the wine region. A stark contrast to La Paz with there being air and liquid so things can actually survive! We got to ‘Valencia’ where the little town square was beautiful and on the top of the hill was a big cross with a fairly windy staircase leading up. 

We all admired it from the square…..eating our ice creams……satisfied that seeing it was enough…..well all of us but one. One had different ideas and in true Ellie style with a huge smile on her face she convinced us all to climb up to the cross! 

I guess we probably had to admit it was totally worth it as we got back in the car shattered but happy with our eventful Saturday. 

But no time to rest as it was early start for hipoterapia on Sunday morning. However, we all rather a tricky time concentrating as we had tickets to see RICKY MARTIN that evening! Now not being avid fans until said tickets were purchased, Ellie and I had spent a good week watching back to back music videos on our newly fangirl purchased DVD (thanks John for going and buying it for us 😂). So we were ready! Adriana being a much longer term fangirl had organised t-shirts with our names on. So as soon as we could after hipoterapia we rushed up the hill for a Ricky Martin lunch, shower, change and if we went in the Ricky bus with Emma and Bell to sit in a mad Bolivian queuing system for 5hrs to make sure we got a good Ricky seat for the Ricky show. 

Turns out that in Bolivia they don’t bother numbering or issuing seats on your ticket. It’s sort of a free for all with rules. Or organised chaos. To get the good seats you have to get in the queue hours before the show. Then you put a chalk square where your space is, add your initial, then you pay a mildly aggressive lady to watch it for you if you don’t want to wait it out yourself. There are people selling polystyrene squares to sit on to make the queuing process more comfortable, people come along from Copacabana chicken or Burger King with heated bags selling you dinner, there’s drinks and popcorn to be purchased too. All from the comfort of your polystyrene square. 

However as queues go inevitably everyone is saving a space for 10 more of their friends and as the time comes closer the queues swell, double and triple in size. We couldn’t complain as we also had 10 more Ricky fans on route to our queue space. Grumbles from queuers and close scrutiny of who was in your group meant that when the time came to go in no one would dare queue jump and you’d made friends with your surrounding queue friends and all looked out for each other. The police formed a human queue divide and had a handle on exactly which line should be allowed in first. So what looked like madness actually was a very well controlled and polite queuing experience! 

Then we were in! 2hrs of wonderful Ricky Martin tunes, 4 of which we knew……the rest we pretended to know and sung along to regardless of the language and fact we didn’t have a clue about the words. We danced, clapped and whooped like crazy people and had an epic evening! 

So with all the weekend excitement over just back to the boring grind of helping people walk again and teaching autistic kids how to ride. Hmmmm my life is just pretty fantastic right now! 


Todos Santos & Dia de los Muertos

Halloween kids knocking at your door demanding sweets (or should we just call it candy now), if you don’t have any you may get egged. Steeped in the tradition of American culture which has made it’s way over the pond via television and embraced by the toothless smiles of our sugar addicted children. Like Easter it’s another holiday which has been overtaken by the need to sell people stuff.

Meanwhile in Bolivia…


There are actually several days where the dead are celebrated; and yes there are costumes, parties and people doing the Halloween things we are used to in the western world. However; it is also a time to remember and celebrate the lives of family members past.

Halloween, or hallows eve is the day before the dead return to earth. The following day in Bolivia (1st Nov) is Todos Santos. Todos Santos is a public holiday across the catholic world. On this day the saints are remembered and honored.

Dia de los Muertos (2nd Nov) is the day when dead relatives comeback to visit their families. In the days leading up to the holiday you can begin to see different things being sold in the markets. Loads of bread with faces embedded in them, representing the dead family members. There were also loaves of bread in the shape of horses or ladders; these are to help the dead return quickly.P1050572

On the day itself we headed to Cemetario General in La Paz like everyone else in the city. The cemetery was packed with people, cleaning the graves of their relatives before sitting down for a meal with them.



There were many people who have laid out a table which had empty chairs for their relatives. This table is often filled with the dead’s favorite food and drink. Traditionally, before it was outlawed by the Spanish ruling class people would literally take out the bodies of the their mummified relatives and have dinner with them.


There are some parallels with the western tradition, instead of threatening the cake owner with tricks people here pray for the cake instead. So you can go up to a family dinner in a cemetery and offer to prey for their dead relative for food. This preying for food is also a way to give food to those who need it more, so it is also a day for charity.

The atmosphere in the cemetery was a mixture of happiness and sadness. I saw people cry, laugh and the rest. It was a very emotional place to be; but this group grieving I suppose was a way for people to share with others; to also know they are not alone.P1050589

The cemetery was a lively place, this was a major contrast to all the times I have visited grave yards in the the UK. Much of the noise came from the wondering bands of musicians. For a few pesos you can employ musicians to sing songs to your relatives. At one point I’m pretty sure I herd Backstreet Boys on the panpipes with people crying around it, was difficult not to laugh.


The graveyard is certainly a very interesting place to wonder around, and like the city itself there are clear class divisions. Some areas had bigger tombs than others, some more ornate.P1050613

If you are in town on the Day of the Dead or not it is an interesting place to go and see.