A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about andes

Getting Dizzy in La Paz

sunny 17 °C

The sprawling Andean metropolis of La Paz is booming, vibrant and rich in history and culture. The chaotic streets are exhilaratingly bursting with life, with reggaeton and cumbia blaring from every corner along with crowd-pleasing pan-pipe classics, and in the distance, through cracks in the city skyline, the snow-capped peaks assert their dramatic presence.

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A fascinating mix of people call La Paz home, and a modern latino culture vividly blends with timeless indigenous customs, the fashion alone bringing this to light. Ultra-tight jeans and dangly earrings are seen as much as the humungous, rainbow skirts, bowler hats and brilliantly beautiful, woven shawls. A sense of historical wrong-doing and political discontent is forever present in the air, seen simply in the roles played by different city folk, the mixture of skyscrapers and shacks, or manifested in spectacularly striking murals.

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The heart of the centre is occupied by the Iglesia de San Francisco, a dominating reminder of Spanish influences. From here streets spread like veins in every direction, the rhythm of the city pulsating through them, old, new, rich and poor in a melting pot of contemporary culture. Smart, colonial buildings stand frozen in time, as modern, dynamic La Paz inundates around them, taking on a new lease of life. Traffic howls in the air, and overflowing, rattling mini-buses tare up and down the hills like wild toy cars, dodging random boulders on their way, designated location-shouters adding to the civic hum.

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The colourful and atmospheric markets are a souvenir paradise for visitors to the city. The locals are friendly, the colours vivacious and our shopping eyes are welcomed by a kaleidoscope of possibilities. Bright, stripy trousers, llama wool jumpers, pompommed hats, jazzy satchels… All tourists end up looking the same, adopting the must have trends of the Latin-American trip, and oh do we love it!

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A short drive away from the city we find the mountain of Chicaltaya and the Valle de la luna. Both are exceptional examples of the astounding geography of Bolivia and well worth the day trip. The views from Chicaltaya are amazing, stretching to infinity and offering an array of landscapes, whilst the Valle is curious and mesmerising in itself, and satisfies the Indiana Jones in all of us.

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All in all, La Paz is a spellbinding place to visit, providing unforgettable experiences, dramatic environs and an insight into the real Latin America.

Posted by lauracerys 12:50 Archived in Bolivia Tagged markets la_paz andes latin_america valle_de_la_luna boliva chicaltaya Comments (0)

In Search of The Inca Footprint

Machu Picchu

all seasons in one day

Swirling veils of mysterious mist. Majestic, domineering heights. Violent, winding rivers. And above all, the promise of an unforgettable moment. I will never forget the journey from Cusco to the timeless jewel of the Inca Empire, Machu Picchu. Upon leaving the city, you notice at once, traces of a once glorious past, of a lost kingdom. Through exotic flora you catch a glimpse of broken ruins that whisper of times of opulence.

As you climb higher and still higher again, it feels as though you are about to reach the summit of the world, and the distance between earth and the vast grey-blue canvas above seems increasingly shorter. Low, moody clouds enchant us visitors and the dramatic shadows of dawn compete for our attention. They tell us that we have nearly arrived. That soon we will lay our eyes upon it. That just a little further on, a giant awaits.

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And all of a sudden she appears, her majesty, Huayna Picchu. She guards her city with her head held high and congratulates the humble traveller. Like a well loved sovereign she poses for the cameras of her loyal subjects and greets them with grace. ‘Welcome to my kingdom’, she announces, ‘my beloved Macchu Picchu, my Inca footprint’.

And there, us visitors spend the day amongst echoes of an empire, where mysterious and wonderful pieces of the past paint a picture of the splendour that once was. Vast boulders suggest a mighty fortress and empty houses a vibrant population. Sun dials and strange shapes delineate a powerful, mysterious and unfamiliar culture.

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Here and there wander a lama or two, who today are well accustomed to their daily audience. Their bored expressions have a pompous air about them and their posture demonstrates proudness in knowing that it is now they who govern this ancient imperial throne.

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Visitors have the option of climbing to the highest point of the landmark, the peak of Huayna Picchu. From there, you have what seems like an infinite view of the world. You feel as though you are sitting at God’s side with the sky at your fingertips, gazing at the world below. You can see for miles and miles, and in a sense you can see for centuries as you contemplate how the history of the area has unfolded. And as you sit at the summit the dream of you and many more adventurers comes true, as you look out and in awe, and feel that you too have now experienced a part of the great Inca footprint.

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Posted by lauracerys 09:23 Archived in Peru Tagged peru machu_picchu cusco empire inca andes peruvian huayna_picchu Comments (0)

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