Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol and Uros Floating Islands

Published: February 24th 2011
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After spending a great 3 weeks in La Paz mooching around the witches market, visiting the fun fair and eating out a lot, we set off on our short 4 hour bus journey to Copacabana, the jumping off point for Lake Titicaca and where we would later cross the border into Peru.

Lake Titicaca is a lake located on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It sits 3,811 m (12,500 ft) above sea level, making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. By volume of water, it is also the largest lake in South America and is bigger than Lake Tahoe in the USA.

After finding ourselves a hostel (which appeared to be run by children as we didn´t see anyone over the age of 14 there!) we had some dinner and booked ourselves on the boat ride to Isla del Sol the following day. Isla del Sol is one of the larger islands on the lake and is said to be the birthplace of the Incas. Upon arrival, we had to lug our backpacks up 206 original stone Inca steps before trying to find a hostel at the top. There are no roads on Isla del Sol and the island does not have a water supply, therefore all the water used in hostels and restaurants has to be carried up from the lake by donkey! This made for some interesting (and cold) showers!

The next day we hiked the 4 hour trek to the North of the island where we saw some inca ruins:

"On the north end of the Island of the Sun is the town of Challapampa, home to the fascinating Chinkana (labyrinth). A huge stone complex full of mazes, it is thought be a training center for Inca priests."

After walking around the labyrinth we headed off to the small town to find a place to stay. Hostels were thin on the ground and we ended up settling on one that was semi-completed, rooms on the top floor building site on the bottom! I wish we had taken a pic of it as it was pretty ridiculous! It´s unique selling point was that the mattresses in our room still had the labels on and smelt of paint, so we figured we would be the first to sleep in the bed! In the evening we went for a meal with a couple that I had met on the pampas tour and James had the local Lake Titicaca trout, followed by a bottle of red wine on the freezing beach with lights out at 9pm!

The following day we headed (by boat) back to the South of the island and made the quick(ish) dash up the 206 steps again to pick up our bags and back down to catch the boat to the mainland where we booked ourselves on the bus to Cusco (Peru) the following day which also made a quick detour to the Uros floating islands.

The Uros floating islands are probably one of the most bizarre things we have seen since being in South America. Still on Lake Titicaca, there are 42 islands made out of reeds that roughly 1000 people live on. Everything is made out of the reeds - their houses, furniture and boats - we took loads of pics so you get the idea - they even eat the stuff!! They gave us some to try and it tasted like fluffy celery - definitely an aquired taste! We were greeted on one island by all the inhabitants who first gave us a presentation (in spanish) about how they make and replenish the islands, after this a young girl grabbed my hand and led me off to her house to see inside. It was pretty basic, as you can imagine made out of straw, but she had a tv and dvd player which was solar panelled! We did not expect that!

Our tour lasted a couple of hours, then it was back to the bus station for a quick bite to eat and our overnight bus to Cusco in the middle of the biggest thunderstorm complete with massive hailstones that I think I have ever witnessed!

Additional photos below
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28th February 2011

You two look like a pair of pirates! Much love xxx

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