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Puno and Lake Titicaca

Puno, Peru

We had a great meal last night in Arequipa and a few Pisco Sours, and woke up early this morning to catch a bus to Puno - which is a city by lake Titicaca. Joe left Martin and me for the U.S., and we arrived at the crazy bus terminal around 7:30am. The bus ride was interesting and included locals getting on and off to sell food along with a Jehovah's Witness who preached to us for 20 minutes or so and then tried to get us to buy wafer cookies. Awkward. We arrived to Puno in the afternoon, and walked around a bit. It is a nice, bustling town with a good number of tourists. It's also the highest city we've stayed at - over 3800meters - so we're feeling a little short of breath again. We got some food, visited a local market, and then went back to our hotel. Exhausted from the early mornings and traveling, we passed out before 7 and slept for almost 12hrs!

This morning we hopped a taxi to the docks for our tour of the islands of Titicaca. As I mentioned before Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and largest in South America. It sits on the Peruvian/Bolivian border, though we will only be visiting the Peruvian side. It is also believed to be the sport where the Incas originated - specifcally on one island on the Bolivian side of the lake.

Our first stop was at these amazing man-made floating islands made solely out of reeds. The about 2,000 Uros people have lived on these islands for thousands of years and literally make everything out of reeds by hand - huts, boats, furniture, and like I said, even the islands themselves! It was a really crazy feeling walking around the squishy, forgiving reed - ground - it was kind of like a giant haystack. We walked around the islands and took a reed-boat to another. Martin opted for a half day tour to get on a nicer bus back to Arequipa.

On my own now, I'm continuing on to the island of Taquile which is another 2.5 hrs from the floating islands. There are two main indigenous cultures that inhabit this area of Peru - the Aymara and Quechua - each with different languages. These are pre-Inca cultures that have retained their traditions for thousands of years. Taquile is primarily a Quechua island, and about 6,000 people live there. They have their own sets of laws, and are isolated from the rest of Peru. The town square is situated at the top of the island as requires about a 25minute hike up, which is no fun at this altitude. The top of the island has fantastic views of the surrounding lake and mountain ranges in Bolivia. I decided to skip lunch (well I had no money) and ate a tangerine, banana, and Snickers I had brought along the way. I'm perched up on top of a cliff overlooking the lake now, and the view is spectacular. The lake is very peaceful and quiet. After this stop, we get back on the boat and head back to Puno.

Tomorrow morning I head back to Lima for one more day, and then it's back to the U.S.

permalink written by  bhkann on August 17, 2010 from Puno, Peru
from the travel blog: Peru 2010
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