A journey around Lake Titicaca

Tim and I arrived in Puno, Peru late one evening a cou­ple weeks ago.  The sun was set­ting as we approached the city and we were offered our first glimpse of the beau­ti­ful Lake Tit­i­caca from the top of the hills which sur­round the city.
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Puno itself doesn’t really have much to offer other than tourist restau­rants and nice views and of the lake but it is a per­fect gate­way to the many islands we were about to dis­cover.  We decided to forgo the tour orga­nized through our hotel (cheap­est one yet at $12/night) and just showed up directly at the dock.  There we met Fran­cisco the cap­tain, bar­gained a bit for our jour­ney, which would also include a home-stay at his house, and off we were.

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The first thing we vis­ited was a small float­ing island, Uros, where we were treated to a brief les­son about life on the island.  The island was smaller than the aver­age Cana­dian house­hold and approx­i­mately 10 dif­fer­ent fam­i­lies live there.

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Next up we were off to Aman­tani, which is where we would be spend­ing the night.  The house was quite nice and com­fort­able and we were served a deli­cious lunch on the bal­cony over­look­ing the lake.  After­wards we hiked up a very, very, very, long path uphill to see some ancient ruins as well as catch the sun­set from above.  The view did not dis­ap­point, and it was totally worth the hike.

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Sun HDR Looking West

The next morn­ing we woke up really early to eat break­fast and Fran­cisco dressed us up in local attire and we were able to take pho­tos.  We were appar­ently pretty lucky as nobody else on the boat got to do this.  I have an extreme amount of respect for the local women as the cloth­ing was really heavy and uncomfortable.

H n T dress up

Our next stop was the smaller but more touris­tic island Taquile.  Once again, we hiked up a long hill and pon­dered why we always seem to be climb­ing uphill.  The answer was obvi­ous once we got to the top and stopped for a tasty lunch in a restau­rant that seemed more like somebody’s house than a restau­rant.  Here we learned about the pro’s and con’s that tourism has brought to the islands.  We we’re told that by buy­ing our tour directly at the dock we had not only saved our­selves money but we were also putting money directly into the com­mu­ni­ties instead of some tour agency’s deep pock­ets. The tour agen­cies appar­ently are very slow at pay­ing the com­mu­ni­ties for ser­vices ren­dered, if at all.  Some­thing to think about if you ever plan on going to Lake Titicaca.

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Isa, a sweet Ger­man girl we met along the way, asked if she could travel onwards to La Paz with us as she was solo for the first time.  We we’re happy to oblige. We went back to Puno for one last night and headed off to Copaca­bana, Bolivia the next morn­ing, about a 3 hour bus ride away.

Copaca­bana is a very small, chilled out, backpacker/hippy town.  There isn’t much to do here other than eat, sleep, and drink.  Luck­ily for us, this town was really cheap because our ATM cards wouldn’t work and we were quickly run­ning out of money.  One ATM even ate one of our bank cards, which is now destroyed. This was appar­ently hap­pen­ing to a lot of tourists.  This didn’t stop us how­ever, from tak­ing a day trip out to Isla del Sol, the biggest island on the lake.

Our boat arrived at the north­ern side dock and guess what?  We hiked up yet another big hill to visit a sacred rock and Chi­cana, a labyrinth-like tem­ple from the Inca period.  The views we’re some of the best we’d seen so far. Since we were get­ting so good at it, we decided to hike all the way across the island to the south side.  The walk took about 4 hours and was quite enjoy­able as we saw lots of ani­mals and really got to see every angle of the island.

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The next morn­ing we decided it was time to move onwards to La Paz.  We hopped on a $2 bus and went on our way.  Half way through, we arrived at a ferry and were told to get off the bus and take the pas­sen­ger ferry across to the other side while the bus got on the vehi­cle ferry. It seemed pretty sim­ple and easy except for the fact that on the other side of the lake they we’re hav­ing a parade and the mil­i­tary was not allow­ing any­one across the lake.  Bolivia is pretty infa­mous for road­blocks, so we weren’t too sur­prised by the situation.

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After about an hour they finally let peo­ple across so we were able to at least enjoy the tail end of the parade.  The bus how­ever was still not allowed to cross.  Finally about 2 hours later, they reopened the waters to vehi­cles and mad­ness ensued.   Fer­ries we’re strewn across the water in every direc­tion, block­ing each other, and adding to people’s frus­tra­tions.  At one point some of the peo­ple from the parade got on a boat and then stopped half way across the water to sing and dance adding to the insan­ity.  Luck­ily, we are patient  peo­ple and we’re able to appre­ci­ate the hilar­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.  Some of our fel­low pas­sen­gers, how­ever,  we’re not so impressed.

Madness at Lake Titicaca

Our bus finally made it to the other side and the dri­ver barely gave us a minute to get on the bus before he speed off into the dis­tance.  It was time to say good bye to Lake Tit­i­caca and all of its quirks and charms.

That Rain Cloud

 

 

 

 

6 thoughts on “A journey around Lake Titicaca

  1. Manoelle

    Very nicely done. I laughed when I saw you with the local clothes. The pic­tures are all beau­ti­ful. What a good job!

    Reply
  2. Suzanne

    Hey there Helene.… It is your Suzanne — Your travel story is delightful.…Maybe you should take a career in travel descrip­tion and des­ti­na­tions… :) Beau­ti­ful pics and I am so happy you and your sweetie are hav­ing a great trip. — Christina and I miss you.….
    Today appar­ently here in down town Ottawa it will be.….….….…..14 degrees !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Cheers for now and keep truck­ing:)
    Suzanne

    Reply
  3. shannon

    Helene,

    You write so well…I’m there with you or I want to be! Sell your sto­ries girl­friend. This is your calling…a travel writer.

    Reply

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