I'm on a tight schdedule and only have four nights after hiking the Inca trail to get to La Paz to catch a flight. I would like to hike Colca Canyon and see Lake Titicaca, but know I probably won't be able to fit it all in. I want a challenging hike (even after the Inca trail), but does anyone have a bias toward one site versus the other? ALso, are there any places in Bolivia (near La Paz) that are worth spending my last couple days at?
Perhaps do the Colca Canyon as opposed to Puno... and then what you can do is stop off in Copacabana enroute to La Paz.
I have done both Puno side of Lake Titicaca and Copacabana (Bolivia side of Lake Titicaca) and I am a little biased because I much do prefer Copacabana to Puno. It is a lot less crowded and the views are spectacular, along with a quaint little town. You can take a boat trip out to Isla del Sol and do a 4 hour hike from the one side of the island to the other. I thoroughly enjoyed it although pushed to walk very fast due to a time limit! It was a highlight of my journey and I really do recommend it to anyone...
All the best with your travels!
I can't comment on the Colca vs Lake Titicaca question because I loved both of them. So, let me tell you about what I loved about La Paz.
You asked for a place near La Paz to spend a few days. Personally, I think the best way to spend some time outside La Paz is to do the following:
Sign up for "The Most Dangerous Road in the World" downhill bike ride from La Paz. There are bunches of companies offering the tour - I suggest Downhill Maddness because they are Bolivian owned and have good bikes.
Regardless of who you go with, they will offer to take some luggage in their support van while you're screaming down 2000 meters from the altiplano to the jungle on a mountain bike. When you arrive in the jungle that evening, you can spend one or more nights in a jungle hotel/hostal and spend a few days breating the warm, humid and oxiginated air.
When you're ready to return to La Paz, you can (depending on your bike company) arrange for a ride back to La Paz, the return trip is included in your bike ride fee.
I loved the ride, the jungle and the experience. It's a great way to get out of La Paz for a few days without mucking about on too many buses.
Please do the Puno trip to the reed beds on floating island over the colca canyon. yes the canyon is deep, and there are the amazing condor's flying about but you wil be bored after a while.
Lago Titicaca is ten times better than Arequipa, the city of Arequipa is nicer than Puno but you are only visiting for a reason, not exactly to explore the city/town.
La Paz rules and you can easily spend 2 weeks there, make sure you do the world most dangerous road bike ride, comethign you will never forget, it is for all levels of rider and f'in amazing, proper amazing!
I hadnt even read the other post saying you should do the biking on the worlds most dangerous road.
I am a downhill bike addict and I would go with Gravity Bolivia. It is run by a Kiwi called Alasdair, and crew, they are a registered Kona dealer, and the bikes they supply are around the £1500-£2000 price range in the UK. Go with them as they have the best saftey record too and it is a day you will NEVER forget
Thanks for the suggestions! The bike ride does sound amazing. My friend mentioned skipping Puno and Arequipa all together and going straight to La Paz and taking a bus to see the salt flats. Has anyone done that and highly recommend it over the other options?