Puno/Lake Titicaca Peru (Days 2 -3)

Peru's flag
South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca
April 15th 2014
Published: April 18th 2014
Edit Blog Post

Days 56 -57 we had a fun start to the day when our group left our hotel in a convoy of 2 man peddle powered cyclos for a quick trip down to the port for our tour of Lake Titicaca. We were joined by our guide, John, who is an expert in the history & culture for these regional communities. We started out by slow motor boat in dead calm & warm conditions although the water temperature is a constant cold 9-10 deg. After a short cruise our first stop off was to visit the Uros floating islands.

The Uros natives originally moved north to Puno thousands of years ago & were happily settled there until the Spanish arrived & who needed a constant supply of slave labour to mine the rich lodes of silver that were found in the area. The conditions were appalling & caused a terrible loss of life. The natives fled Puno and sailed to the islands by reed boats. The islands existed naturally & the natives have adapted to their current way of life.

The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. The reed root structure forms a solid base & can be cut into building blocks approximately 1 mtr square & tied together with nylon ropes. Layer upon layer of green reeds are criss-crossed in layers across the base to give a spongy water-bed like feel when walking on the surface.

The reeds need to be regularly replaced & more often in the wet season (twice a month). Islands can be moved by removing anchors, or can be sub-divided or joined to another island. The islands last about 20 years before turning into compost.

Their reed boats used for fishing ( & tourist joy rides) are no longer solely made from reeds, instead improved buoyancy has been achieved by placing used plastic bottles in the hulls. The stem of the reed can be eaten & their diet is supplemented with fishing, shooting birds (with antique rifles) & trading in Puno. In the past small king fish & sardine like fish were naturally plentiful in the cold waters & harvested using small nets. However, these fish became a food source themselves for larger introduced fish like trout & are now scarce while few trout are able to be caught by nets.

3500 islanders still live this way but now have solar panels to power tv's but not much else. Primary schools & basic hospitals exist but we did not see them. Meals are cooked in clay pots using dried root material as an energy source. Hand made crafts are now produced for a thriving tourist market.

After 2 hrs with one island family we sailed further across the lake to Llachon on an isolated mainland peninsula to meet our home stay families. Our hosts, Roxana & Orlando, (don't ask me how they got those names) are hosting 2 couples from our group in separate mud brick cabin type facilities which far exceeds our perceptions gained by the brochure description, very basic facilities. While we had no skills in the local language, Quechua (or Spanish for that matter) we had no difficulty in understanding each other & were delightful hosts.

A delicious lunch was immediately awaiting our arrival. Later we helped out with some chores which in our case was to help clear a patch of grass to grow a new potato crop. A friendly game of volleyball, locals vs visitors ended the day - should have been no contest given our size but they whipped our hides 3 nil before we had some mixed games.

We then all dressed up in traditional dress for a simple group dinner in a community hall before early to bed & an end to a fabulous day.

After breakfast the next day, we board our boat on a chilly morning for a visit to Taquile Island in choppy seas. The island is Unesco listed for its unique way of life where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. The island is also known as the island of love where some really bizarre wedding rituals occur.

We had a leisurely uphill trek of about an hour around the island bringing us to a rustic main plaza. By this time the chill was replaced by warm to hot day. The main point of interest was the fine quality of knitting available for sale & the uninterrupted view of the vast blue lake with heavily snow capped Andes across the border in Bolivia. After a brief stop we continued walking on to the other side of the plaza to the top of the island where an open air lunch awaited again with lake views to the Peruvian side.

After lunch we descend about 500 steps to the other side of the island where our boat had moved to meet us ready for a 3 hour sail back to Puno.

Puno is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances & musicians. For our last night in Peru we had a group dinner at a restaurant where we had a wonderful demonstration of traditional dance & music. Tomorrow we are off to Bolivia.


Additional photos below
Photos: 6, Displayed: 6


11th May 2014

Hi Ruth & Gerry, I have been keeping up with your adventures .... & tried to leave a comment ages ago with no success, so hopefully today will be the day it works. Gerry is a great writer and you guys are having an extraordinary time. Same, same here - missing Ms R at aqua tho' Looking forward to seeing you back again. Tootle pip, sallyx

Tot: 0.103s; Tpl: 0.017s; cc: 11; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0129s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.3mb