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Discover Bolivia: Tiwanaku Day Trip


So I had made my decision to see La Paz and although I didn’t have a set itinerary, I was sure of one thing, I had to visit Tiwanaku. But Belle, you might ask, why Tiwanaku? The answer is simple. Tiwanaku was one of the most important precursors of the Inca Empire and as a good lover of history, I could never miss visiting a place like this.

The archaeological site of Tiwanaku, Tiahuanaco, Tiahuanacu or Tihunaco was the capital of a vast pre-Columbian regional empire that predated the Inca empire with its origins dating back to around 400 BC. It golden years were between 500 and 900 AD, but there is new evidence to indicate that it may have been established in the year 1500BC. Shocking right?

This archaeological site is one of the oldest of the Andean cultures. Its historic ruins, mysticism, craftsmanship and the perfection of construction and decoration techniques are all unique characteristics of the site. It is located at more than 3,800 metres above sea level about 72 km from La Paz close to the banks of Lake Titicaca. Its area is administered by the Bolivian government and since 2000 is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

How did we get to Tiwanaku?

My cousin and I hired the Tiwanaku Day Trip through Bamba Experience. The tour began at around 8:30am when our guide came to pick us up at the hostel. He was very knowledgeable and an excellent host explaining everything in Spanish and English. We travelled in a safe micro-bus and as a plus lunch was included as well!  

 Nosso guia na entrada dos museus de Tiwanaku explicando o lugar...

How can you reach Tiwanaku on your own?

There are 2 cooperative vans that depart from the street in front of the La Paz Cemetery near the flower shops. The buses cost around 15 Bs and take about 90 minutes, departing once the van is full of passengers. Upon arrival in Tiwanaku, the van will drop you right at the road that leads to the ruins. To come back, do the route in reverse.

Be aware that there is no direct road from Tiwanaku to Copacabana. If you want to take this path, you will first need to return to La Paz where you took the bus and then connect to a different bus heading towards Copacabana. These run every 30 minutes from 6:00am to 6:00pm and take about 4 hours (including the ferry crossing) and cost about 35 Bs.

Eu e a minha prima tentando tirar uma foto com as alpacas

Upon arrival to the archaeological site, you must purchase a ticket for about 80 Bs at the entrance. You can access the ruins of Kalasasaya, Puma Punkka, the Lytic museum (which has the largest sculpture found in Tiwanaku – The Monolith Pachamama) and the Ceramic Museum.

After that, I just have one thing to say, it was a great ride!

Templo Kalasasaya
Kalasasaya Temple
In this photo we are 2 meters below ground level, in the Temple Semi Underground. Formed by supporting walls with 57 pillars of red sandstone blocks, this space forms a perfect drainage system designed with stone channels and running today. That’s where they found the largest piece of Tiwanaku, the monolith “Pachamama”, which measures 7.30 metres and has a weight of 20 kilos. Next to us is the “Monolith Barbado” or “Kon Tici Wiraqocha” (Lord of Waters, bearded and dressed in a long skirt) carved in sandstone and accompanied by two stelae (carved stones).
Also in the Templete Semi underground what really draws your attention are the 175 mysterious stone anthropomorphic heads embedded in the wall. No head is equal to the other and scholars argue that they correspond to different ethnic groups from remote places.
The imposing Porta del Sol, one of the most impressive monuments. Known throughout the world as an example of the high degree of perfection achieved by pre-Columbian culture in South America. The beautiful portal worked on the rock is a unique and imposing stone block weighing about 10-13 tons. Considering the door position, and comparing it to the orbital and Earth’s axial tilt changes by making a comparison between the sunrise in the past with the present. It is estimated that the Sun Portal would have been built in the year 200 BC.
My cousin and I freezing in the bitter wind …
Nossas novas amigas e o Monolito Ponce
Our new friends and Monolith Ponce.
Também conhecido como "Estela Ponce" ou "Estela 8", o monólito Ponce está localizado dentro do recinto do templo de Kalasasaya (kala = pedra e saya ou sayasta = parado), também chamado de Templo das pedras paradas. Ele mede 3 metros de altura e foi esculpido a partir de uma única pedra andesita. Acredita-se que ele representa uma poderosa autoridade de Tiwanaku.
Also known as “Estela Ponce” or “Estela 8”, the Ponce monolith is located within the grounds of the Kalasasaya Temple (kala = stone and saya or sayasta = stopped), also called the Temple of the standing stones. It measures 3 meters high and was carved from a single andesite stone. It is believed that it is a powerful Tiwanaku authority.

What did I enjoy most about this site?

I had the feeling that it was a little abandoned, but I liked it a lot! I was completely fascinated by and and would recommend it as a must-do from La Paz.


Source: Le Belle Tour