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Published: December 5th 2012
The bus to Puno turned out to be pretty straight forward. We weren't sure how it was going to go, with it being a Bolivian bus and also an overland border crossing, but we needed not have worried! The bus was very comfortable with fully reclining seats, the border crossing pretty painless, aside from a bit of queuing. (No extra "admin fees" demanded or anything like that) and after about 30 minutes we were back on the bus and winging our way across Peru. On arrival at the bus station, with no maps available to work out our route across town, we hopped in a taxi and went straight to our hotel. This turned out to be another nice, clean well run hostel. After checking in we went out for a walk and some lunch. The town centre is pretty small, with an obvious tourist strip full of shops and restaurants offering cheap set meals. We did a bit of souvenir shopping and booked ourself on a morning boat trip on Lake Titikaka for the next day. The main draw here is the lake, so there is not so much to do in town. On the evening we just went out
for one of these cheap set meal dinners, about £3 each for three courses, and a couple of capriniahs and back to bed.
We were picked up at 9 the next morning for the boat trip. Due to time and expense we had elected just to do a half day tour, which takes you to the nearby Uros floating islands. There is some controversy about some companies exploiting these people and concerns it has become horribly touristic, so we did some research and booked with the most ethical company we could. The boat trip actually exceeded our expectations. We cruised out about 20 minutes into the lake. This is only a really small distance as Lake Titikaka is huge (the biggest high altitude lake in the world) and we were a bit disappointed we could not see more of the wider lake, the village is surrounded by dense reeds. When we arrived, we were quite astounded by how big the village was. There are about 1000 people living on the lake, and about 5 families per island. We were taken to one of the islands, where the guide explained to us how they were made. It involves strong reeds,
piled on top of their floating roots. The reeds are replenished from the top every few weeks, but it leaves the island feeling somewhat like a water bed when you walk on it. The blocks of roots are tied together with string and then anchored to the lake bed with ropes and sticks. We were then divided up into small groups and taken by individual family members to see the huts where they live. As you would expect these are very basic ( however due to some recently gifted solar panels, some had tv's!). The families spend their time fishing, or doing handicrafts, the women were selling some items they made, pillow cases etc depicting island life. We were then sold the opportunity to ride to the other island on their hand made reed boats. They were pretty nice, double decked catamaran style boats for punting. The women of the families row the boats, and at about £2 a person, worth a go! The other island was more of the commercial island, featuring both stands with handmade crafts and a bar restaurant. I suppose they have to cash in somewhere! After this we cruised back to Puno for lunch time.
After a quick trip to the bus station to book our onwards trip for tomorrow, we walked back to the hostel, aiming to find some lunch on route. We passed by lots of small restaurants, full of locals, which appeared to be serving a choice of about 3 things, and for once not all meat. So we thought we would give it a go. We sat down, expecting someone to take our order, when a bowl of soup was plonked I front of us both, turns out that's a freebie! Unfortunately that was a meat filled soup, so two bowls for James. We then got our choice of main and a random soft drink and when we got to pay we discovered it was a total of about £1.20 for both of us, crazy! After this we just had a mooch around for the rest of the day. We tried to visit the cathedral, but again it was closed, we are not having much luck with these places!
The next day we were off to Cuzco, we are meeting up with our inca trail group the day after, can't believe itis finally time to do this, and that we only
have 3 weeks left in our trip! Crazy times!
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