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Published: November 4th 2015
2015-10-26 14.56.02How I got there:
Floating Islands Uros
So after the success of Peru Hop I decided to go again with the company to do the "Bolivia Hop" from Cusco to La Paz it cost $59. It has stops in Puno & Cococabana before it gets to La Paz.
We met at 21:30 outside the Bolivia hop office (about 20m from my hostel!) & they checked us in & photocopied our passports making sure we still had our Peru immigration form from entering the country.
Then minibuses took us to the main bus (Cuzco streets are too narrow for it). Once on we headed to Puno & arrived for breakfast at appx 5:45 getting to the port at 6:30. What I did
: I was doing a homestay so stayed on the bus waiting for my guide whilst everyone who was doing the 2hr tour had to get off in the rain haha. I wrote some more of my trek blog & chilled out (*TIP: there was a toilet where you paid 50c to enter & get loo roll which was pretty tidy on the main road before you turn down by the harbour*)
At about 8am the guide picked me
up and ushered me down to the harbour, here I waited whilst he ran around boats seemingly having no idea which one I was on -_- … but then a boat was found & I got on, on my own for about 15mins before anyone else other than the captain who appeared for a few minutes before leaving again. I felt much better once people appeared I was starting to get bored & not long after we were under way towards the floating islands of Uros.
On the way our guide explained that this part of the lake was polluted due to an exceptionally high level of rainfall one rainy season which resulted in the lake levels rising above the sewage levels causing sewage to spill into the lake, turning it green. I'm not sure if there is anything being done about the pollution or they hope it will bio-degrade eventually. He also pointed out the most expensive hotel in Puno (used to be a prison) & told us about the most expensive hotel near the lake which was a bit random. I think he was space filling quite a bit at this point.
Women on the island of Amantani
at the floating islands & got off on 1 for an explanation on how the islands are made then invited into the homes to see how they live. We also got the opportunity to purchase their handmade goods, on the island we stopped on they weren't any more pushy than normal sellers but it is mentioned that you will support the local economy. To cross to the next island we had a choice of going back onto our boat or onto the reed boat for S/.10. I chose the reed boat & even had an attempt at rowing it, which was harder than it looked! On the next island I got a cup of coca tea with monay, a passport stamp for lake Titikaka & a local quinoa bread for S/.8. We then got back on the motorboat to head out to the Island of Amantani.
On the way we saw waterfowl and the sun was shining, sitting at the back of the boat was bliss. Coming from an uncomfortable night bus where I didn't get much sleep I fell asleep on the bench on the boat… unfortunately I hadn't put sun cream above my knees thinking my shorts
Port on Island of Taquile
covered it but whilst asleep my shorts rolled down & I ended up with nice sunburn! The sun is extremely strong on the lake due to reflection and the high altitude & you need to make sure you apply plenty of sun cream!
After about 2.5hrs we reached the island of Amantani where we would be staying for the night in our homestay. We got sorted into groups depending on how many rooms the family had & whether we were solo travellers / couples or a group of friends, as we would not be sharing rooms unless we knew each other. I was with 3 other people a Dutch lady called Michelle & 2 German sisters called Astrid & Christine. Our family was very nice with a 4yr old daughter called Isabella & the parents of the mother lived next door (I can't remember the names of our "mother" & "father").
Our rooms were very nice with plenty of blankets on the beds as obviously there is no heating here! There was also no running water so you had to flush the toilet with a bucket of water. We got a nice lunch of quinoa, veg & potato soup followed by Grilled cheese (similar to Halloumi), rice, potatoes & salad & then we had a bit of free time before we were meeting up to watch the sunset. So Michelle & I took the chance to have a short walk around the island. Once back we headed up to the meeting point to walk up to the highest points of the island with the rest of our tour group. There are 2 temples on the island & most of us decided to walk to the temple of Pachamama which is the highest point but the longer walk. From here we got amazing views across the lake and of the sun setting.
I watched the sunset for a while and storms across in Bolivia but when the sun went behind a cloud I decided to head back down before it got pitch black as I had forgotten to bring my head torch with me. Once back at the meeting point the had set up a couple of stalls one selling hot chocolate S/.5 (which had a spice I couldn't quite distinguish) & quinoa cakes with a honey sauce 3 for S/.3. Pretty good way to wait for the rest of my 4-some to arrive. Once we were all back we went down to the house for dinner, which was soup followed by a bean & pasta stew with rice. Whilst we were eating it started to thunder & pour with rain which made the evenings activity look less enjoyable.
Time for the evenings entertainment which was a dance in the village hall but first to dress up in the local dress which was surprisingly warm & kept the rain off but the belt felt a bit like a corset crushing my ribs! Me & Michelle went to the dance but the other ladies were too tired to join in. At the hall people from all the tour groups which had landed that day turned up & everyone was dressed traditionally which was good. A few dances and chatting to other travellers before we decided on an early night and walked back home to bed. It was so quiet with no dogs barking or traffic that I could have stayed there for another night just to get some rest!
Unfortunately it was an early start for a 6:30am breakfast but the view from my window when I woke up was pretty fantastic. Breakfast consisted of pancakes with jam & coffee - which was much better than most hostels have. After it was time to say goodbye as we walked back down to the port to get on our boat & head to the island of Taquile. This took about 1hr and then we had a tour of the island, from our guide who grew up there before moving to Puno. We walked up to the main square & had a look at the local handicrafts - the men knit on the island - then walked up to the high point past the schools to the temple. Here we got an explanation of how couples get married on the island including asking for permission & the ceremony itself. It was about 11am at this point so we headed back down towards the islands other port & our lunch, on the way we even bumped into our guides grandma!
Lunch was S/.20 and was soup followed by a choice of omelette or trout served with veg, rice & chips. I went for the veggie omelette which was very nice. We then continued on down to the port and back onto our boat for the 3hour journey back to Puno.
I found the homestay very enjoyable and interesting although I wish I spoke more Spanish which would have added to the experience (the main island language is Quechua- with Spanish taught in the schools). I would definitely recommend it to anyone that has got a couple of days to spend on the lake. Back in Puno:
We got taxis from the port to our hostels & I checked into Kantaya hostel which was recommended by Peru hop for Puno. I got moved from the 10bed room I'd booked to a 6 bed which was empty when I arrived for the same price S/.25 which was good. The Wifi was strong & I took the free afternoon to do some washing before jumping in the nice hot powerful shower! Even the pillow was good & the lady at reception gave me a map marking on the local banks & supermarket so at this point I was very pleased with the hostel overall.
I then went to withdraw some soles to change at the border to Bolivia & get some snacks from the supermarket ready for the bus journey tomorrow & my salt flats tour I was hoping to book in La Paz. Puno is not a great town although I didn't feel in danger walking around after dark I wouldn't want to be out too late & the town is a bi dingy for the most part.
I went for dinner at Inka Rumi where BBQ Alpaca & a small beer came to about S/.30 I left most of the change in my pocket as a tip as I wouldn't be able to exchange this at the border. I returned to the hostel and started up on my blog/uploading photos & at this point I sat on the bed.... where I found there was a massive indent running the middle where I could feel all the springs unfortunately the room had filled by this point & for 1 night I thought I'd live with it. A disappointment after everything else being good though.
My nights sleep wasn't too bad although I woke up with a dead arm a few times but not fully rested I went down to breakfast which was actually pretty good. It consisted of pancakes, jam, juice, bread, cheese, ham & coffee which made up slightly for the bed.
I got picked up by Bolivia hop & put on a minibus to the harbour at 8.15am. Where next?:
La Paz via Copacabana
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