After an overpriced bus ride with broken English commentary we arrived in Puno, on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Arriving in the evening was a little sketchy as our guesthouse was in between the bus station and the main square along some old railroad tracks. But the guesthouse was great with hot showers, comfy beds and decent security.
Staying away from the main square and touristy area made it feel like true Peru, with local markets along all the streets, traditional dressed woman, pigs on the train tracks and piles of trash everywhere. It is just a stop over town for most to visit the islands of Lake Titicaca but we ended up really enjoying our 3-night stay there.
Instead of a tour we booked a collectivo transportation service to the 3 islands that also set us up with a family stay on one of the islands. Blessed with great weather we headed out from the port for a couple hour boat ride baking in the sun and then freezing from the wind. The weather at the Lake is unpredictable and colder than you would think as it is the highest navigable lake at 3,812 m (12,507 ft).
The first island we visited was the floating island of Uros. The Uros are a pre-Incan people who live on forty-two self-fashioned floating islands made of reeds. They taught us how they made the islands, their way of life, and amazing traditional dress consisting of bright colors, weaved textiles and hats for the woman.
On the second island of Amantari we were set up with local family to stay with where they provided us a bed and 3 meals. Our family was so kind but it was a shame that we couldn’t communicate more with our poor Spanish. The experience was a humbling one for sure as they live in such simple housing and have very bland food. Since we chose not to do the tour our money went straight to the family and we also bought some alpaca textiles from them. We had a few hours to explore the island and hike to 2 sacred points with many stone arches and terraces that overlooked the Lake. They were magical areas where we got some yoga in and an amazing sunset. The next day the last island we visited was Taquile where we had to pay a tax to enter the island, which goes to support the community. It was similar with the arches and terraces but they are famous for their knitted items as they are all made by the men instead of the women. Our island tour ended with a delicious trout lunch as they are known for on Lake Titicaca.
This was our last stop in Peru as we then booked a bus to La Paz, Bolivia. The border crossing was a breeze except for the hefty 135 USD visa fee we had to pay. We then stopped for only an hour at Copacabana, which is a small touristy town on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. In hindsight we probably should have stayed here a day and almost had to as our bus took off without us! Luck was on our side as bus company agent flagged down another bus for us and we got the last 2 seats. At one point in order for our bus to cross the lake we all had to get off the bus, pay 2 Bolivianos to take a little motorboat across and our bus was taken across on a ferry that was big enough just for the bus.
The end of January marked 6 months of being on the road and sleeping in our 100th bed, crazy! We just finished 10 very adventurous days in Bolivia that we will write about soon and have now safely arrived in Chile.
More Pics: https://picasaweb.google.com/105315223482012434599/Puno_LakeTitikaka