Crossing into Bolivia

From Arequipa, we bused to our favorite town in Peru (I’m being facetious) – Puno.  We arrived just in time to watch a storm roll in over Lake Titicaca.


The next day we got up bright and early to start our journey across the border.  Our bus trips between Mancora and Lima and then Lima and Arequipa were expensive ($45-55) so we were pumped that the bus to La Paz was only $12!  Here’s our bus that pulled out of Puno at 7:30am.  It was actually really nice!

The bus

The border crossing we did a few weeks ago from Ecuador to Peru was very simple. The bus stopped at the border and there was one building that had officers from both countries. So we got into the Ecuador line to get our passports stamped out and then went to the Peru line to be stamped in. Very simple and it took 10 minutes, including filling out the entry paperwork.

The crossing into Bolivia was a lot more fun!  The bus stopped just before the border and everyone had to get out.  There were money changing stations to trade soles for bolivianos and then two offices to visit – the police and then immigration.  Once we were stamped out, we had to walk across the border into Bolivia.  Here we are!

Brandon Crossing the Border Erin Crossing the Border

Then it was on to Bolivian immigration.  Since we are Americans, we had the pleasure of skipping the long lines for travelers entering from other North/South American countries and got our own private line – the kind of private line where you have to pay an additional $135 visa fee.  We, along with one other couple, were the only ones from the U.S. crossing, so we were in and out pretty quickly.  So then we had to wait around for the rest of the bus to get their stamps.  At least it was a nice day!

Bolivian Side

Once we were back on the bus, we headed to the town of Copacabana, a few minutes down the road.  Copacabana is right on Lake Titicaca, and from everyone we’ve talked to, the better place to visit the Lake than from Puno on the Peruvian side.  The town was pretty cute and for some reason, a lot of the cars were decorated with hats.


Hats on cars

We had a hour to kill in Copacabana before switching to a different bus to complete the trip to La Paz.  There were some beautiful views of the lake as we drove.

Lake Titicaca View from the bus

About an hour outside of Copacabana, the bus stopped and we had to do a “ferry” crossing to get across the lake at a very narrow point.  All the passengers crowded onto a few boats and then waited on the other side as the bus (with all of our stuff) was driven onto a barge/raft thing and floated across.  Our gold bus is floating across in this picture with a grey van.

Bus on the ferry

After that, the rest of the ride was fairly uneventful.  Here’s a picture of our first glimpse of La Paz as we finally got in around 5pm!

FIrst La Paz Sighting


We spent our last few days in Peru checking out Arequipa, a town in the south that we hadn’t visited before.  The town was cute with some colonial buildings and a few huge monasteries.  My favorite part of the town was looking off into the distance and seeing some cool mountains and a huge volcano.  Here are a few shots from around town.

Plaza de Armas in Arequipa Mountains Park Walking Downtown Arequipa Brandon and Volcano Volcano over city Monestary Fountain

Peru 2012

Brandon and I fast tracked through Peru, only spending a little over a week in the country.  We sped through because we had already visited Peru in 2012 and spent 2 weeks exploring.  Here are a few highlights from our trip in 2012.

Paragliding in the Sacred Valley by Cuzco

Lake view

Brandon before take off

Brandon in the air

Erin Paragliding


View from the top

Hiking the Incan Trail to Machu Picchu

Incan Trail

Highest Point in the Trail


Brandon by River

Ruins along trail

Sun Gate

Machu Picchu

Visiting Lake Titicaca

Island on Lake Titicaca

B&E at Lake Titicaca

Floating Island

Brandon and Alpaca

Eating Cuy (Guinea Pig) for Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner


I love Lima!

After a long and stressful 20 hour bus ride from Mancora, Brandon and I were really excited to get to Lima.  We spent a few days in Lima 2 years ago when we did our Incan Trail trip, so we knew exactly what to expect and where we wanted to stay.  We rented a room on Airbnb in the neighborhood of Miraflores, which is the nicest neighborhood in Lima (maybe all of Peru?).  It is on a cliff that looks right over the ocean, so the views are beautiful!

Miraflores Sign


Miraflores has all the comforts of Chicago, so we made sure to take advantage of them since we are about to travel into Bolivia, where there will be few. We declared an “American Day” when we got there and headed over to Larcomar, a shopping mall built into the side of a cliff. The mall is exactly like any that you would go to in the U.S. – complete with Gap, Banana Republic, North Face and many other American stores, as well as restaurants. We had burgers and fries at Chili’s (where they even had American ketchup!) and returned to the mall later to watch a movie in English and have giant sodas and popcorn.

Larcomar from the side


One thing that I had been looking forward to doing in Lima was running. Between high altitudes, travel and packed schedules, I hadn’t run more than 2 or 3 miles at a time since getting to South America. Lima has awesome paths that overlook the ocean so I made sure to pound out a few 4-mile runs – man, were my legs sore!


There are tons of parks along the path that Brandon and I explored. One of the more famous ones is Love Park – it has a giant statue of a couple making out. Right after we snapped a picture next to it, we remembered that we did the same thing in 2012 – so here the pictures are for a comparison (first is now, second 2012). The weather wasn’t as nice as the last time we were here – but I can handle a winter that means highs in the upper 60’s and overcast skies more than Chicago’s brutal weather.

Love Park 2014

Love Park 2012

Besides Chili’s, we had a few other food cravings that we wanted to fulfill. We grabbed sushi one night and then the next day went to a different neighborhood called Barranco to try a place called Burrito Bar. Those who know Brandon know that he LOVES Chipotle – as in probably ate there at least once a week in Chicago – so I did a search to see what Lima had to offer by way of burritos. Although you ordered at the table and not at the counter, this place was pretty spot on. Barbacoa, carnitas or chicken burritos, tacos or salads with cilantro lime rice and different beans, toppings, and salsas to choose from. The burritos even came wrapped in tinfoil!


We explored the rest of the neighborhood a bit too. There were some really nice parks and even a Chocolate Museum – those who know me know that we obviously went in for a tour!

Barranco Sign

Barranco Park

Chocolate Museum

I love Lima! Out of all the places that we’ve visited so far, Lima is the place that I could stay the longest. It has all the amenities that I like – diverse food, good shopping, lots of beautiful parks – and awesome bike lanes! Check these out – there are even bike specific traffic lights! Chicago’s got a lot of catching up to do…

Bike lane


A few days relaxing in Mancora, Peru

After spending a day busing from Banos to Guayaquil and another day busing from Guayaquil across the border into Peru, we knew that we would need a couple days to stretch our legs so we booked a few nights in Mancora, Peru.  Mancora is in the north of Peru and has about 9,000 inhabitants.  Although it is a beach and surfing destination, we didn’t go swimming because it is winter here so mostly overcast and the highs were only low 70’s.

BeachResturants by Beach

"Main street"

We stayed at a pretty bare bones “tiki” hostel at the top of the hill overlooking the town.  It had a great common area (and decent internet!) so it was a good place to relax.  I wouldn’t have wanted to spend more than 2 nights in Mancora, though.  The town just felt a little dirty and there were way too many stray dogs for my liking.  But it was nice to eat seafood on the beach and to recharge before our 20 hours bus ride to Lima!


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