5th November 2003
The drive to Bolivia around Lake Titicaca shows a different side to the lake - a lot more remote and not at all commercialised. The road is in good condition and you can see the mountains in the distance and the water is a fantastic deep blue. You get the feeling that people living around the lake are more affluent than those living further away in the mountains - we saw lots of children riding bikes to school, whilst elsewhere we have seen them trudging along by foot.
Peruvian immigration is a few minutes from Yunguyo on the edge of the lake and the border crossing was quick to say the least - less than 20 minutes. (Luckily we got there just before a bus full of people arrived). Our various documents were stamped, there was again no search of the Weasel and we were on our way into a new country. (It is worth changing your Peruvian money with the money changer here as the rates are better).
It was another short drive to Copacabana and then the best bit - the crossing of the Straits of Tiquina at San Pedro. You have to show your passports to the naval chap in a garden shed on the edge of the dock and then it is just a case of driving your vehicle onto a very rickety looking wooden barge/raft for the journey across the lake (30 Bolivianos/£2.50). Much more interesting than the Desaguadero route which is just overland.
The drive to La Paz from the border was no problem. The drive through La Paz however was a different story entirely. It is a pretty large, sprawling city with no pattern to the street layout. Needless to say we got lost. (It didn't help that it was market day and some streets were closed off.) After numerous stops to ask for directions we eventually managed to get out of town and head to the Hotel Oberland in Mallassa, south-east of La Paz. The experience was enough to put us off driving back into La Paz!
The Hotel Oberland is swiss-run and a great place to stay. They let us camp in their grounds for free - only asking that we bought the odd beer, so a fair deal! They have a really good restaurant with a huge choice, including lots of Swiss specialities, and the staff are really helpful and friendly.