BootsnAll Travel Network

Lake Titikakakakakakaaaa

December 12th – Lake Titicaca


Puno is the city on the edge of the lake. The view of the city from the bus as you descend in was not great. Dusty roads, half built houses and tiny streets, a complete contrast to the huge  mass of tranquil water that lies just beyond. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world – about 4000m high and it is enormous.


We were met at the bus station and taken to a very nice hotel. It seems full of tour groups of all ages but was very central so we went out for a walk and found a very nice pizzeria to eat. The town feels very full of people and all tourists get accosted by children selling finger puppets, women selling alpaca jumpers or restaurant owners shoving menus under your nose. A very firm “no gracias” does the trick most of the time!


Early start the next day and another tour. I was pleased to see completely new people on the minibus as we were driven down to the lake. Irish, Australian, Peruvian and French this time, a nice mix and it looks like we will have a good time. The best bit – there was a 19 year old Australian girl – absolutely stunning and wearing a skirt. I remark as her legs were showing travelling growth of about 3 weeks – excellent I could completely relax!!!

The boat took us first to the floating Islands of Uros. A community that live on these islands made of reeds – houses included. There is an extended family per island and apparently if an argument cannot be resolved the island just gets cut in half and moored elsewhere! The group had the talk by the guide about the people and their life but it was all a bit staged. There are watchtowers on each island, we asked what they were for – just the tourists to take pictures – hmmmm. There was 1 woman sewing a wool tapestry for show and many other women with these pictures for sale on theor stalls. We all joked that they shipped the pictures in from India and that one picture had been worked on for months. Sounds a bit harsh but this was the feeling that we all got – it was just a bit too much.


We had a ride in an old fashioned reed boat to another island. One new use for recycling – all the plastic water bottles the tourists throw away are put under the hull to make the boat float! The other island had a small “hotel” where you could sleep in a straw tepee overnight. There were also much smarter looking houses around the back – we all wondered if the straw houses on the other islands were for show and actually everyone lived in the better houses. We joked about there being a Starbucks and sure enough we came across a coffee shop – giggles all round. Looks like we have the cynical trip this time – but quite a laugh.


Another couple of hours on the boat and I can tell you that the lake is not always as calm as it looks. After diving and rolling our way through the waves we finally reached Amantani – our island stay for the night. We will be staying with a native family for the night. The island has no cars, only solar powered electricity for the few bulbs and live a very simple life. The islanders greet you at the dock and you are split into pairs (or 3’s). It felt like they were looking you up and down and picking you on your merits – eg that one looks like they can chop wood – I’ll have that one. We were slowly picked off couple by couple and we got a very grumpy looking old man – everyone else had a smiley woman. Help.


The houses are up a steep walk. With the altitude and the fact that our house seemed to be the highest of the lot I was huffing with my heart thumping in my chest before we got there. We had to stop twice as your legs just won’t work like you expect them to. Bet the host was thinking he picked a right lot. The island is very pretty, small agricultural plots, eucalyptus trees and 2 storey plaster houses with tin roofs. There are no roads (no cars) but walkways that have been paved with pebbles. The house was very basic but our room was cosy – with 3 beds (lots of blankets), reeds pinned to the wall to keep in the heat and a plastic sheet on the ceiling under the tin roof. There were bed pans under the beds – OMG is this what we were supposed to use – our host had just left us in the room and disappeared. Luckily as we were about to use them (really desperate for the loo now) he appeared so I dared to ask. Thank god – there was an outside loo way out back by the donkey. Think how embarrassing it would have been is we had used the chamber pots.


Lunch was with the family. They had a little room with a fire where the family (Ambrosia, Benedita and Judith) were and they invited us in. A table with 3 settings faced the fire – it was like a panel of judges. The family just sat on the floor and would not join us at the table. Judith is the same age as O so I was trying (in my pigeon Spanish) to talk about her school but the family were very quiet. Was it my bad Spanish or were they just like this normally? It felt good to escape at 4 when a walk to the summit of the island had been arranged with the tour to watch the sunset.


Back with the group of course we all compared hosts and food we were given. Our house has bulbs in the bedroom and we had cheese for lunch so the Ritz of the island as others had no cheese and candles. Looks like we have landed unfriendly family as all the others had nice chats (and their Spanish is worse than mine). The climb to the top was punishing and the drummer boy who accompanied us beating faster and faster did not really help. The view was amazing and the quality of light at the top something to behold. The walk down – great.


After dinner we were invited to don the traditional costume and accompany our families to a fiesta. Josh had poncho and hat, us girls had layers of thick butt enhancing skirts and shawls. It was fun dressing up and the clothes were nice and warm as by this time the temperature had dropped. Stepping out in the pitch black (no street lights) with our torches just made you realise how much you take for granted but the view of the stars – wow. I have never in my life seen so many clear stars – it was like looking at another world – incredible and made me trip us more than once as I just kept looking upwards. The dancing was fun – imagine 2 people holding hands sawing wood going backwards and forwards – a bit like that. It lasted an hour and then everyone was sooo tired it was straight back home to bed.


Early rise next day (villagers get up at 4!) and on the boat by 8. It was a great experience but I was glad to get back to our world of technology. The lake was also a lot calmer. A visit to the island of Taquille which is famous for handicrafts. Slight issue in that the village is a 1 hour trek (mostly uphill) from the port. All of us were again heaving by the time we arrived and the famous handicrafts were no better than on the other island. I would miss it out. The “famous” 500 steps back down to the other main port left my legs shaking. The steps were huge and snaked round – an assault course. We were all glad to get back on the boat and during the journey back sat on the top and Ian told us all about Sydney and what to do in Australia when we get there. Although we put sunscreen on we all got burned!


December 14th – Puno To Cusco


It was sad to say goodbye to everyone on the trip but onwards we must go. It was nice to get back to the hotel and have a shower!


Another early start and a bus trip with a difference from Puno to Cusco. The bus stopped at about 6 places on the way so broke up the journey. We saw ruins, an amazing church, a llama with blue eyes and the highest pass, complete with glaciers. It is at over 4000m – if you were in an aircraft the cabin would be pressurised at this height so it was the highest we have been without oxygen. I and J the Australian couple were on another bus doing the same route and stops so we kept bumping into them.

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