Days: 312 (3 May 2015)
Total distance travelled: 59,669.6 kilometres (37,061.86 miles)
It was a quiet morning in our La Paz hostel, as most other inhabitants had either only just crawled to bed, or were just about to do so when we rose, ready to partake of our free pancake breakfast (courtesy of the hostel).
We were joined by a young Dutch girl (Simone) who’d just arrived in the city, and when we mentioned our plans for the day, which were to venture out to the pre-Incan ruins of Tiwanaku, she was eager to join us.
Minutes later we met downstairs at reception, where our party of three was now four, as Michael, a bit of an oddball German had latched himself onto out group as well.
Although Michael was eager for us to get a taxi to where we thought the colectivos ran from, the rest of our group was more than content to walk and as he’d been most eager to procure some bananas, it (the walk) proved beneficial for him in any case!
After a couple of false starts (we kept getting directed to different street corners), we eventually found our ride and got on our way.
Once out of the city, it was essentially wide open plains all around us, but the horizon, it was the star attraction with long ranges of snow-capped mountains proving irresistible, at least to my eye…
We got dropped off on the main highway, as this main thoroughfare doesn’t actually pass through the small town, from which it was a pleasant, slightly fresh walk to the main ruin site and the accompanying museums.
The long disused railway line passed right through this area, and it was the former station that we were actually required to visit, as it was now re-purposed as the Tiwanaku ruins ticket office.
It was something of a surprise to us when we discovered the entrance fee was an expensive $80.00 Boliviano’s per person (we’d failed to double check this in advance) and it was sheer dumb luck that saw me with sufficient cash to pay the entrance fee for the both of us.
Our experience began at the pair of nearby museums, home to a few nice pieces, however by now, given the volume of archaeological museums we’ve visited already, we did find it difficult to get so excited by the many ceramics that inevitably make up the bulk of most collections.
The star of the show was undoubtedly a huge statue of Pachamama, a large monolith over seven metres in height, which unfortunately you are not allowed to snap photos of. All of my slightly rushed, sneaky attempts were a little blurry, so unfortunately we can’t share that one highlight with you.
Now, it was time to tackle the ruins proper, a sprawling site built from an earthy red stone, reminiscent of the soil around.
Gone for over eight hundred years, the civilisation that built Tiwanaku is apparently quite a mystery to archaeologists, therefore much remains unknown and accordingly, there wasn’t a great deal we were able to glean from the occasional information boards.
Michael was eager to follow a tour group and eavesdrop on their guides spiel, but neither Simone or ourselves felt comfortable with that.
I know personally if I’d forked out cash for a guide, and somebody came along freeloading, I’d be pretty pissed off…
So we wandered, enjoying the fact that this place certainly looked more decorative than any Incan site we had visited throughout Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia.
The centrepiece of the site (given that the main temple structure looked more like a grassy hill) was the well excavated complex known as Kalasasaya. Perhaps I should term it more our highlight than the centrepiece, as it housed the Puerta del Sol (Sun Gate), a pair of ornately carved statues, and the quirky Megafono (Megaphone).
It was this rock carved megaphone that actually lead me to speculate that we’d spied another earlier within the Incan ruins of Pisac.
An example near the main entrance to the site, allowed visitors to experience for themselves how this small aperture could be utilised for voice projection.
We did our best to time our wanderings so as to avoid the larger tour groups, as they made the opportunities for clean photos few, however it was often a case of our group being just three, as Michael would dawdle along, intent to try and catch whatever tid-bits of information the other groups guides might throw up.
For us, even without much information (after all, we find it just as easy to research a site afterwards, as how much do we truly retain whilst both marvelling and trying to listen?), it was an impressive place to simply wander about.
Slightly removed, in a more overgrown part of the complex we found the Puerta de la Luna, the Moon Gate after which our explorations were essentially done…
But wait, there’s more!
No, I’m not auditioning for a home shopping channel, as we’d walked into town, we’d actually passed a smaller archaeological site, and this additional ruin, was accessible with our Tiwanaku ticket (tickets can only be purchased at the main site).
We enjoyed it, however should you not decide to pop in, it’s in no way going to detract from your overall Tiwanaku experience.
It was outside its gates that we were able to hail a passing colectivo headed back to La Paz, Sarah inquiring of the driver if he’d be dropping us back near the cemetery, which he confirmed.
As such, the four of us were a little annoyed when we did finally reach La Paz, only to be dropped on the outskirts (essentially in the heights above the city)!
Eventually, we found another colectivo that was finally headed our way.
We paid our fare, reached the neighbourhood of our hostel, then our group of four parted, each to continue on their merry way.
* It cost us $15.00 Bolivianos each for the colectivo ride to & then from Tiwanaku.
* Entrance to the ruins was a whopping $80.00 Bolivianos per person!
* Our extra colectivo from the heights above La Paz, back down into the city cost us $2.50 Bolivianos each.