From La Paz to Puno

Adventure Pursuit | La Paz - Puno

A bus journey in altitudes between 3,000 and nearly 5,000 meters is certainly something to remember. Especially when you come from the sea level. I was determined to do the journey in one day as I couldn’t wait to see my horses in Colca valley.

I started early, hopping on the first bus that was available. They promised to bring me to Copacabana, a small town at the shore of lake Titicaca.

We left the city center and climbed high up, to 4,000 and higher, picking up more people on the way. My culture shock from Bolivia continued. Dirt roads, mud and stone-made houses, no green plants to be found anywhere near.

But, there was a highlight to this sad-looking landscape – snow-capped mountains in the distance. Those giants surely reached up to 6,000 meters.

Adventure Pursuit | La Paz - Puno
lago Titicaca

It didn’t take too long to get a glimpse of lake Titicaca. At first I thought we would arrive in our destination soon but I was wrong, it took several more hours to travel along the lake’s shore, crossing one part of it, bus on one separate boat and us on a smaller one. It was a bit confusing to find our bus among the others on the other side of the shore as they all looked the same, quite often with some religious message printed on it.

Adventure Pursuit | La Paz - Puno
crossing lake Titicaca

One more hour on bus and we finally arrived to Copacabana. From there I had to find another bus that would bring me across the border, to a city on the Peruvian side of lake Titicaca, Puno. I was lucky to spend my last 30 Bolivian soles for this journey because there was no ATM, neither the company accepted credit card payments.

Soon, the “fun” bus ride continued, with a stop at, first Bolivian side of the border, and Peruvian later. My altitude headache and nausea was at its peak and I wished for no more than a bed to sleep and yes, a painkiller. For the entire journey, the road we followed stretched along lake Titicaca.

We arrived to Puno in the evening and it was obvious I’d spend my night there. I had no desire to continue on. So I bought a bus tour ticket to Chivay for the next day, had a meal in one local restaurant (no vegetarian options they said!) and found a neat hostel to finally get some rest.

The amount of oxygen in various altitudes:

meters above sea level oxygen percentage
0 (Sea level) 100%
2,000 80%
3,000 71%
4,000 63%
5,000 55%
6,000 49%
7,000 43%
8,000 (Death zone) 37%

Information source:

Self-help for altitude sickness:

  • Drink lots of water as your body keeps losing fluids more easily in high altitude.
  • … and coca tea, you can try to chew coca leaves as well if you want.
  • There are a few tricks to keep water in your body, such as eating garlic or any vegetables in general.
  • For headaches, use Ibuprofen or Paracetamol, there is also a medicine specially designed to help you aclimatized, called Acetazolamide (Diamox).
  • If having severe hedaches and vomiting, find the fastest way in lower altitude or a hospital, every town around here has one.
  • Adventure Pursuit | La Paz - Puno
    maté de coca (somethig to start with at high altitudes)

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