(Day 136 - 138)
05.04.2010 - 07.04.2010 24 °C
We thought we were clever finding the cheapest bus ticket through an agent in Cusco. We were promised the world, Semi Cama (comfortable reclinable seats) in a double decker bus like we had used throughout South America. Some would call it a local bus; others call it a hellish lump of metal. It was the kind of bus that smelt like wet mildew dog and cooking oats porridge, the kind of bus where the door had to be tied with rope to keep it closed, the type of bus that the luggage doors opened while we were travelling and it took 10min before someone noticed (!!), the kind of bus where toilet stops are prohibited, the type of bus that when you sit down bugs devour your body. The kind of bus YOU JUST, WANT, TO GET, OFF!!!
We’ve had to lower our standards a fair bit since the start of this trip but this hoot-loving-bus took the prize! We were more than pleased to finally arrive in Puno.
At 3870 meters above sea level, Puno is a large cold town on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The sky is a crystal clear blue which is reflected in the placid lake. It’s also the biggest high-altitude lake in the world, about 15 times the size of Lake Geneva.
We spent one night in Puno before starting a 2 day tour of the lake visiting 3 of the islands on the Peruvian side (as Bolivia shares part of the great lake).
We left early by boat and headed straight for the Uros Floating Islands. These man-made islands have been inhabited ever since their construction centuries ago by Uro Indians who were retreating from the more powerful neighbours like the Incas.
The islands are made from the totora reeds. They use the roots of the reed which float, lay these with the actual reeds to form a spongy base on which to build their homes (also with reeds). It’s very impressive but unfortunately very touristy too. As soon as you arrive on one of the islands you are greeted with songs and waving women who also try to sell you handicrafts or invite you on a tour of one of their boats also made of reeds.
From here we headed to the more authentic island of Amantani where we stayed with a local family in their modest home. Here the communities still wear traditional clothes and follow ancient local traditions. We had time to go for an afternoon walk to their pebble beach for peaceful stroll. It was a great experience on a quiet, undisturbed island with no cars, sirens, horns or dogs, just the clear sky and the lake below.
The following day we setoff for the 3rd island on our trip, Taquile where again, the locals still wear their tradition clothes (slightly different to those worn on Amantani). Here we had lunch and walked the island before setting off back to Puno.