It already snowed in El Alto (La Paz’s high neighbourhood). So I had to leave Cochabamba earlier. I need to get to Cuzco before it gets colder there. Eight hours rather a chilly bus trip takes me to La Paz at the early hours .
Although Sucre is the Capital on books , administration, congress are all in La Paz. The town is settled on two sides of a valley. Higher spots are stormed with slums. Then there is El Alto… Higher, older and much more chaotic. Local people call two parts “upper” and “lower”. Around Sagamaga street there is the touristic area filled with shops, travel agencies, bars, hostels. I stayed at 3600 hostel which is little more expensive(14$) but well maintained and have comfortable beds. The Cathedral and Congress are only preserved buildings at Plaza Murillo though all others are magnificent too. The indigenous majority of La Paz are Aymara people. They came from Titicaca area. The towns at south like Cochabamba, Sucre house Quechua’s , ex. Inca’s. Some intellectuals I talked to said that makes difference in daily life. It must be correct as Quechua towns like Sucre, Cochabamba were by far calm, worth living cities.
There are number of places to visit around. Madidi National Parc in the north is border of Amazonas covered with jungles. To the west there is Tiwanauku. An early settlement and major archeological site. It is said that with the new findings in Pyramids Pre-Inca history dates back to 4000 B.C.. Yungas are on east of La Paz. Sort of lowlands of humid and rich soil. My preference happens to be altitudes. I shall get to Sorata and camp at high skirts of stunning Cerro Illampu . Although there are rumours of rubbery, theft on mountains all people I came across proofed that was not true at all.
Traffic in La Paz is so crazy you may want to leave town immediately. It takes over one hour to leave just the town. Trans cordillera mountains ( From Illampu to Huyana Potosi there are 7-8 summits) look so picturesque I can not wait to get there. The indigenous girl next to me takes out two cellulars one for playing music other receiving calls ! Hopefully these people get their share of education from technology while enjoying multimedia… Sorata is a cute little village high on mountain. There is a beautiful big house looking at village square. Built by Germans around 30’s the house is not well maintained. A big chest stamped by German border officials explaines how these people left Germany at the time. Even the copper bed I sleep is German made. During 1930’s number of German and Chez people arrived South American countries building houses, farms. Unfortunately Bolivianos could not maintaine these places after their deaths.
Buying food for tree days makes my backpack even heavier. Well, there is nothing I can leave behind. I leave Sorata around 7.30 am in the morning. Villagers are busy setting up for sunday market. Heading to south I climb number of steps before hitting the dirt road. After facing Illampu summit road turns to north and snakes around valley reaching a meadow at 3600 mt. It was so nicely situated, Illampu summit on shoulder and villages down in deep valley in the front I decide to camp here. Having met number of villagers on the way most of them claimed they were guides and would help me for the road. In fact trail was obvious and I had my apps. “Viewranger” which is quite professional help for trekkers. Having said that I lost trail twice during 3 days trek.But did not cause big time loses. It is always helpful checking your trail even you’re on the track !
Heading to meadow I ask the shepherd girl if there was some water source around. Her reply was more of pointing a spot not far from where I was planning to set my tent. That was good news! Setting up the tent I went to water source. Clear waters always impress me. So did the andien eagle circling over my tent before I get back. Resting on my own on the skirts of Andes makes me feel relaxed as well as distinguished. Clouds move in and out of the valley making the scene look like a fyord on a cost. I was so impressed with the scene I hardly heard two shepherd boys approaching. They were rolling tyres while looking after sheeps. At age of 8 and 10 those two brothers look after 70 sheeps.I share my biscuits before we take pictures together. Clouds cover sky at sunset. Consequently it rains and winds almost all night not getting too cold. Sleeping time on the mountains depends highly on weather circumstances. So I partly sleep during night. Waking up to bright sky next morning I took pictures before the sun rise. Colours change so rapidly during morning hours I could not stop taking photographs. Boys appear ones again. I pay them each five Bolivianos and promising another five asking to look after my tent. Hiking to 4150 mt takes another hour this time without too much weight on my back. Here I make a mistake and hike to wrong hill assuming Glacier lake was there. It happens because it is same altitude and straight line with lake. Well, as said one should check apps constantly. So it takes another 45 min. to reach actual hill where the lake lies. Another heavenly spot ! I feel more close to nature when I am on altitudes being in total coherence with rhythm and wilderness of the place. I really do not know where else I may feel that…
Returning to the tent I find the boys waiting. They help me to pack before getting their reward. I leave all my food to them. Well some for the wandering eagle as well. This was my first greeting Cordilleras in South America. I assume we shall meet again…