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Published: December 2nd 2008
Day 598 (16.11.08)
After a monstrous bus journey with little to report, we disembarked in Puno a little sleepy and unprepared. Meeting up with another couple Amelie and Hugo who were travelling with their 10 month old cherub Emil we shared a taxi into town and found ourselves some lodgings.
Famished from our respective journeys, we hit town to scope out something to eat. The five of us found a great local place with a 2 soles llunch menu (about 40p), and left the little restaurant feeling much more awake and alive.
We had the afternoon to figure out our plans to get out to Lake Titicaca´s islands and decided a quick trip down to the dock would clarify things for us a bit more. As we arrived we were bombarded with offers of trips and boats out there but decided upon leaving it until the following morning when the price would inevitably go down. We had heard indifferent things about the tours out to the islands so decided a DIY trip would be better.
Having all got our plans together we went back to our room, sorted out our kit so we didn't have to take
everything with us, had a takeaway dinner and fell into a deep, satisfying sleep.
Day 599 (17.11.08)
With the alarm waking us we did our final bits of prep before meeting up with Amelie, Hugo and Emil for the walk to the dock. We'd left ourselves a bit of extra time just to make sure we could get a boat and for a very important caffiene stop on the way. It wasn't long until we had another throng of people offering us the boat and managed to get our discount with very good use of the 'well i'm not sure, there are a lot of other people offering us a boat' face.
Managing to still squeeze in an egg butty and our coffee we had a personal escort to the boat to make sure we made it on time.
Our boat, albeit the slowest water going vessel in the world, was going to all three islands over our two day lake adventure. The first of which was the Uros islands. Known as the floating islands, they were originally a persecuted tribe who found refuge from their Incan agressors on the lake by making a floating island
from the reeds that grew there. Now absolutely ravaged (and many say ruined) by tourism the community who live just outside Puno on the islands are almost completely driven by the throngs of tourists to the lake. It was interesting and a totally unique place to visit, but you did get the slight feeling that by stopping there you were just adding to the 'here for show' aspect of this unique culture.
Back on our boat and we had a rather breezy journey across the lake. It is hard to really take in the enormity of the lake as you sail into what seems like an endless body of water, one of the world's highest navigable lakes.
The views were great and, sat on the boat's roof, we had plenty of time to take them in as we sped through the water at our boats 2km/h top speed.
About 3 hours later we made berth on our second island of the trip and our home for tonight, Isla Amantaní. Our captain had been kind enough to do a bit of organising on the trip and we all had a local family to stay with on the island.
We had the honour of abiding in our captain and his families house for the night.
During our research we had found that doing the trip by ourselves actually benifits the local community more than doing it by a tour, and it is much more flexible and relaxed - hence us choosing this route over the sheep herding tour on offer. Of the islands on Lake Titicaca, Isla Amantaní is also one of the most unspoilt by tourism, with the whole approach being much more sustainable - another good choice of somewhere to stay we would highly recommend.
Settling into our room (with the lowest doorway in the world) we were treated to a delicious lunch from our hosts where we presented them with a small gift of fresh fruit, before going out to explore the island a bit more. Walking through town with Mark and Hugo assisting El Capitan with his farming gear, we explored some stunning rural and shoreline views just taking in the life on the island as many of the local inhabitants went about their day. Wanting to take full advantage of our time here we continued to walk all afternoon reaching the Incan
ruins and slightly more tourist centric part of the island at Pachatata where we had great views across the lake.
On the way back to the house we stopped off at a local shop and bought a couple of beers and some wine to share with our hosts for dinner.
Having a wee tipple in the smallest cups imaginable, great fun, we had yet another great home cooked meal and chatting with our fellow guests and hosts. A lovely evening.
After dinner the walking had caught up with us and we dropped into bed in our cute little room quick to fall asleep.
Day 600 (18.11.08)
The morning brought about another great meal - pancakes for brekkie - before heading back to the boat, reluctantly saying goodbye to the island and Mrs Capitan. A rocky ride over to our next island, Isla Taquile, and we once again disembarked to explore. After a tiring climb up a lot of steps (reportedly 500) we reached the top of the island to be greeted with a much more pre-prepared tourist town dotted with restaurants and hostels. Deciding that over the last couple of days we had filled our
walking quota, we settled in for a coffee and for some, a bite to eat.
Relaxed and topped up with coffee we made our way down the steps again, stopping en-route to see some of the gentlemen of the island knitting their colorful traditional floppy hats, before boarding our boat for the long ride home to Puno. An incredible couple of days.
Back in Puno and installed in our hotel room again, we went out to catch up on a bit of internet time before a cheeky beer and dinner at a local Chinese / Peruvian restaurant.
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