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Andy and Sophie Peru 2008

Puno & Lake Titicaca

PERU | Sunday, 27 July 2008 | Views [626]

After going against our instincts and booking to travel with the unknown bus company of "San Martin", the service was promptly cancelled meaning we were bumped onto another bus run by a completely different company. Whilst not what you would call "lush", the bus got us to the bus terminal in Puno, in about 6 hours. And it was cold.

We hopped in a taxi and quickly arrived at our hostel, Santa Maria, near the centre of town. Although costing more than other hostels we´ve stayed at, the large rooms, comfortable bed, reliably hot showers and, of course, cable TV :) brought a smile to our, by now, frozen faces.

The next day, due to Puno´s altitude (3800m), we took it easy and spent the day making plans for our stay here, whilst sampling some of Puno´s finest cakes at "Rico´s Pan".

The following day, with us both feeling fine, (a nice change) we took a guided tour to Sillustani, a small site on a peninsula 30km outside Puno. Sillustani was very important to the Tiahuanaco, Pukara and Inca cultures and served as a site for burying their dead. The dead were placed in giant funerary towers that can be seen for miles. We spent the afternoon exploring the towers and admiring the beautiful scenery surrounding the site. We were then driven back to our hostel and went to explore “Calle Lima” the main street in Puno, where nearly all bars, restaurants and tour operators are located. We found a fantastic pizza place, “Ekekos” which has since become our favourite restuarant in Puno. We then fought through the crowds and made it back to the hostel with half a dozen free drinks tickets desperately handed out by bar reps. As has become tradition on this trip, we watched some American TV, and then hit the sack for our early start the next morning.

Woken by the infuriatingly loud and high pitched beeping of our alarm clock at 6am, we rolled out of bed, quickly packed our day sacks and shoveled down some breakfast before being picked up by a tour guide for a 2 day/1 night tour of some Lake Titicaca islands. We boarded our barge-looking motorboat and set of for the famous floating Uros Islands, completely made of reeds. We had a brief demonstration of how the islands stayed afloat and met some of the locals, who were so pleased to have tourists visiting the island the invited us into their houses for a quick tour! We then bought some souvenirs and headed off to another floating island, Uros-style, taking a traditional reed boat which we later discovered was filled with thousands of empty plastic bottles!

After our surreal tour to the Islas Flotantes, we headed towards Isla Amantani, a lesser visited island where we stayed overnight with a traditional Amantani family. Our hostess, Raquel, took great care of us preparing 3 filling meals and even dressed us up in traditional Amantani clothes for a dancing party with the other tourists and several locals. With inhibitions thrown to the wind, we danced the night away, executing the demanding swivels and spins with perfection! Exhausted once again we returned home for sleeeeeeeeeeep.

An annoyingly early start again meant that we had breakfast at 6.30am and headed down to the port to move off this fairytale island and onto the next, the more frequently visited Isla Taquile. We arrive in the marina at around 9am and began the breathtaking climb up the island to the main town near its peak. Luckily, we arrived on the day of the “Fiesta del San Diego”, Taquile´s largest and most elaborate festival. Although a good hour or so delayed, we watched the inhabitants of the island do a variety of dances in elaborate feathery costumes, before heading across the island for lunch, after which we climbed down the 500 steps to the harbour. Against his better judgement, Andy and some friends that we had met on the trip jumped off the back of one of the boats into Lake Titicaca (according to our guide around 10 degrees). This was executed in compete thermal gear, and when Andy was asked why he didn’t just go in in boxers, he had to admit he`d run out of clean ones and so was going commando! Shivering, but with a sense of achievement Andy reclined on top of the boat to dry off in the intense sun. The boat then headed back to Puno, where we had a brief TV/chocolate ciesta in preparation for a potentially late night out.

After heading out for another great pizza, we went to “Kamizaraky- Rock Pub” lonely planet´s vote for the best watering hole in southern Peru! With high expectations we headed to the bar and met up with our new amigos...2 bottles of rum later and having lost one guy to the booze, most people left leaving me, Sophie and a fellow medic called James to discuss (rather passionately) the intricate runnings of the NHS. We stumbled home at 3am to find the doors of our hostel locked and bolted, and had to wake the owners to get in!

We’re off to Cusco next...Talk soon!


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