Last Friday we left the busy, loud, jam packed city of La Paz and headed to Lago Titi Kaka (Lake Titicaca - Lake of the Grey Puma) which is an enormous lake that borders Bolivia and Peru. It´s sometimes referred to as the highest lake in the world (with some of the islands reaching over 4,000m in height) but this isn´t actually true, there are 2 higher lakes (in Peru and Chile).
Nevertheless, Lake Titicaca is nothing short of beautiful and breathtaking (quite literally due to the altitude) and we decided to check out the islands on both sides. 40% of the Lake is in Bolivia and 60% is in Peru.
We stayed on Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun) on the Bolivian side where the story goes that this is where the sun was born. The steep climb up the stone stairs and hills with our packs on was an absolute killer. We did a 7 hour hike up, around, up, down, up, over, up, along and did I mention UP! The altitude is so difficult to get used to, you just can´t get enough oxygen or air into your lungs so we took it really slowly but the views, inca ruins, people and animals we met along the way were worth every (tiny, short, hard earned) breath.
On our second night we ran into one half of the lovely English chicas from our jungle trip and also our crazy Swiss friend from our mountain bike trip so we had a great night watching the sunset, eating the local speciality (trout) and sitting by the fireplace drinking red wine to try and keep warm.
The following day Stace and I headed back to the mainland, to Copacabana, where we met a funny Italian guy and the 3 of us headed over the border into Peru (country number 3). This time we made sure Stacey got her entry stamp...(Long story and kinda funny now but not at the time. Basically she spent 3 weeks in Bolivia as an illegal immigrant by accident as she forgot to pass thru Bolivian immigration when she crossed from Argentina. When it was "discovered" on our way to Lake Tits we were in a tricky situation in the middle of nowhere with me chasing the bus down the street as they drove off with our backpacks and the police demanding, receiving then partly refunding a huge amount of dosh thanks to our lovely bus dude helping us out...)
Flying by the seat of our pants and not really knowing where we wanted to go in Peru (and convincing the funny Italian to come with us) the 3 of us ended up on a little boat headed for the floating islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Tits (as we are affectionately calling it). I discovered on the way that we could stay the night with the local villagers who live on these floating islands so that´s what we did. It is amazing and apparently, there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
The islands are made of reeds as are the huts, the boats, the beds and they can even eat the reeds (which of course we did and they tasted like...water. It was absolutely freezing as we sat in the candlelight so Stace and I tried out our new alpaca socks which are the biggest, fluffiest, wooliest, warmest socks you´ve ever seen.
We decided to check out some other islands and jumped on a tour to Amantani Island where we were billeted out to a little old local Senora for the night with our new Israeli travel buddy Reut (who met on the Floating Islands). We hiked up some more bloody big hills and that evening we had a fiesta where we had to wear the islanders´ traditional clothing. Remember those full pleated skirts I mentioned way back? Imagine how great we looked with our jeans and hiking boots underneath together with heavily embroidered shirts and headscarves. My skirt was red...I would put the photo up but I look like a big, red, toffee apple!
Stacey and I nearly got kicked off the island as we caused our second major commotion for the week. We somehow locked our padlock key in the room and poor Senora wasn´t too pleased and we had to ask the Senors at the fiesta to help us. There were saws under ponchos and more huffing and puffing up and down the bloody hill until eventually the lock was cut and the dancing in the brightly coloured pleated skirts could begin!
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