Puno: Peruvian Titicaca

Posted on May 17, 2011

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My trip from Cuzco to Puno did not get off to a good start as I somehow managed to dislocate my shoulder while strapping into my increasingly heavy backpack at Cuzco bus terminal. So it was in substantial pain that I spent a subdued eight hours on a bus to my final Peruvian stop.

Travellers had advised me to avoid Puno and head straight to Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of the lake, but upon arrival I could see no reason for this. My first view of Lake Titicaca was a good one, and upon strolling around the small town centre I was immediately taken by the place and the friendly vibe. My hostel was homely and comfortable (though, I was to find, freezing cold at night). Moreover, I was glad to be beside water again after a hectic few days inland. After a meal of soup, grilled trucha (trout) and chocolate cake, I retired to my hostel with Fanta and bananas to watch the god-awful Children of the Corn.

This early night was due to the fact that I was awake at 6.15am the next morning to take a day-long boat trip of Titicaca. After a free pancake breakfast cooked by the motherly hostel-owner, I joined numerous other gringos on numerous boats heading out onto the lake. Coincidentally, on my boat I was to run into old friends from previous destinations, adding to the enjoyment of the day.

Our first stop was the floating islands of Uros, a community on which apparently many people still live but which now stands out as a tourist trap of epic proportions. After a short talk and being shown around a couple of houses (one with pet flamingo) we were then accosted one after the other as the locals attempted to sell us all sorts of home crafts, useful or not. Managing to escape with my wallet intact (many did not), I left unconvinced that such people still resided on the islands, thinking it more likely that they returned each day in order to fleece innocent and ignorant tourists alike.

From Uros the boat motored on for another 2.5 hours until we reached Isla Taquille, a dry and remote spot. Lunch followed, again featuring the Titicaca favourite of trucha, before we hiked one side of the island to return to the boat. It was a picturesque and relaxing island, but I was aware that fellow travellers had advised me that Isla Del Sol, on the Bolivian side, was a better bet (a view I have since been able to confirm as true). Nevertheless, as the boat ferried us back to the mainland and a boozy night of pool in a local club, I reflected on an enjoyable day and conluded I was glad that I had not skipped the Peruvian side of the lake as I had been advised.

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Posted in: Experience, Travel