14 June 2010

La Paz and the Cordillera Real

After Lake Titicaca, we arrived at the lung-busting capitol of La Paz. Brady, our friend from Sacramento, met us there. Together we explored La Paz, which is a gritty, messy city, but still has some great museums, markets, and decent culinary options. We gave Brady only one day to acclimatize to La Paz's altitude of 4000 meters, before we skuttled off to Sorata to begin our four-day trek in the Cordillera Real.

Brady got the real deal. Everything about the trek was true to South American form. The transportation was cheap, scary and uncomfortable. Maps were hard to find, outdated and still expensive (we bought a German-made map from 1987 for $10 - one of the better deals we have gotten for maps here). The trail was really a hodgepodge of animal tracks, locals trails, and such. We hired a driver to take us to the trailhead, but he drove us to a completely different area. The views were unbelievable. The hiking was difficult but rewarding. We camped by ourselves every night and rarely saw anybody, local or backpacker. There were many mines throughout the mountains, legal and illegal. We never got to our final destination but had an excellent time nonetheless. The diversity of what we saw, made this one of the best hikes we've had in South America. Still, we only saw a small portion of this range and I'd love to go back and spend two weeks there.

We returned to La Paz on Friday with just enough time to buy a few souvenirs and feast at an amazing Arabian restaurant, run by the cutest old couple. Brady flew back Saturday morning. Kristin and I stayed in town to explore some great museums, eat well, buy a few hard-to-find products for the next week of traveling, catch up on emails, and research our future travels (this week and post-California July). You know, the usual.

Today we leave for Oruro and Salar de Uyuni. In a week or so we will be in Santiago, Chile and then back in San Francisco. I don´t have my pictures up, but you can check out Kristin´s blog for photos of our trek in the Cordillera Real or our time in La Paz.

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