Ride The Flavour (en)

Christmas and New Year, from La Paz to Cuzco

Jan. 6th | 0 comments

Tuesday, December 10. We moved in the “casa de ciclistas” of La Paz : a living room, a bathroom, a kitchen and, upstairs, empty rooms ready to welcome inflatable mattresses and sleeping bags… All this at the disposal of any cycling tourists stopping by, for as little as 20 Bolivianos (about 2 euros) per night. We immediately felt like home… So much that we eventually stayed there 2 weeks! 🙂

Comfort was yet not solely responsible for our settlement. We first had to rest and recover from our 3 last and tiring weeks on the road. We did well at the beginning: high-protein meals (easy: 3/4 of the restaurants in La Paz are “pollerias”, chicken fast-food restaurants!), not too much bustle in the day and sleep in the night. But this diet did not last long. Each day more English cyclotourists moved in the casa de ciclistas, and 4 days after our arrival, a fine team had formed: David, Pete, Sam, Jen (all English) and us. Our nightlife then became way more active… and our physical remission went on in proportion  😉

The team!

We also rode the beautiful bike downhills . The first from Chacaltaya, a pass culminating at 5300 m above sea level, down to the casa: almost 2000 m ascent!

The owner of the casa took us to the top in his 4×4…

… and let us do the hardest part: the downhill 😉

The second donwhill was neither more nor less than the Death Road… ‘El Camino de la Muerte’. 3600 m descent within 64km (from la Cumbre down to Yolosa). The first half is paved… and brings us to the real Death Road: a rock-surfaced, 30km-long road going the length of a great precipice, on the slope of a mountain covered by a tropical jungle. Green everywhere, waterfalls… After more than a month living in arid landscapes, what a joy to breathe this kind of atmosphere! This old road had been the stage of many accidents (and deaths, the precipice is fatal) when it was still busy. But now all vehicles use the new asphalted road and bikes are almost alone on the old one (also, everyday, tourist agencies of La Paz guide whole groups of tourists along this downhill).

Yihaaaa! It is narrow, but adrenaline easily wipes away the danger!

And then, suddently we were on December 24. So we spent Christmas in La Paz, with Pete and David, plus Paul and Lisette (an Australian couple), and Kurt (an American). The Australians and we cooked for the household: they prepared a lamb with baked vegetables, and we cooked an apple and nut-stuffed chicken… Having something like a turkey for Christmas Eve was almost mandatory, would that to approach the local tradition! We then went out into a bar/club. This allowed us to check one thing: Bolivians (mostly Catholic) spend Christmas Eve with their family… In the bar, there were only strangers, us included!

This was our Christmas Eve. With friends rather than family. Nothing to do with the tradition we have back home, but dinner and costumes yet reminded us that this evening was not like others!

We left La Paz on December 26, in order to be in Cuzco, Peru, for New Year Eve. Between these two cities, we discovered the Lake Titicaca, shared between Bolivia and Peru, and its splendid “Isla del Sol”, the Island of the Sun! From Copacabana, shuttle boats take you there for 20 bolivianos… And you truly get value for the money (perhaps even too much): the aquatic ride lasts 2 h!

To go there, we actually tested an alternative path: take a minibus to Yonpupata (30 min), then ask a fisherman to take you to the Island (15 min). Twice as fast, but also twice as expensive… So, let us give you one advice, do not hesitate, take the shuttle bus: this isn’t the most original option but it is by far the simplest. And finally, to spend 2 hours sunbathing on the deck of a boat is not that unpleasant 🙂

Our taxi-fisherman!

The Lake seen from the island

Isla del Sol

We then took a bus from Copacabana to Cuzco. 10h in a row, stuck on a seat… Worse than a bike saddle 😉 Once at the bus terminal in Cuzco, we directly headed towards a guesthouse, well known by cycling tourists: the  Hostal Estrellita. And we can now give our opinion: we recommend! In the city center, the owners are super attentive, and it is only 15 soles (≏ US$ 5) / night / person, breakfast included.

The next day, we left the guesthouse to visit The UNAVOIDABLE for whoever spending a couple of days in the area, MACHU PICCHU! Once again, we get on a bus: a 7h-drive to Hidroelectrica, and then a 2h-walk along the railway track to finally get to Agua Caliente (also called “Machu Picchu Village”). It is also possible to take the train, which sprints from Cuzco to Agua Caliente in no more than 3h30… but it is US$ 90 per person (instead of US$ 15 by bus).

After a short night in  Agua Caliente (by searching/bargaining well, we found a double room for 35 soles ≏ US$ 12), we woke up at 4:30 am the next day, and started to climb in order to get to Machu Picchu when its doors open (6am)!

When you arrive in front of this abandoned Inca city, other tourists fade… you are entirely bewitched by what your eyes are seeing…


We got back to Cuzco in the same day, December 30. Upon our arrival at the Estrellita, we met Anthony and Martin, two Belgian backpackers. We immediately got on well and, the next day, it was under the label of French-Belgian friendship that we welcomed this New Year! HAPPY NEW YEAR 2014!

Our brothers Anthony and Martin 😉

January 4, 2014. Here we are, before the Aeropuerto Internacional Juan Santamaria. We are reassembling our bikes under a cloudless sky. New year, new country: we are in Costa Rica!

Between the airport and downtown San José, we come across a very promising message. Our history with Costa Rica starts on a good footing!


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