|We arrived in Puno which is the main town on the Peruvian lakeside of Lake Titicaca which is a pretty small town but the mainland where everyone from the islands gets their supplies. We only spent a night here but that was long enough to experience a Peruvian bikini wax – the oddest experience of my life – enough said!! The only other main experience from here was the taxi/tuc tuc ride from the hotel to the harbour area which was great fun – our driver was a lunatic, and we won the race!
Lake Titicaca straddles both Peru and Bolivia and is the highest navigable lake in world at the 3600m high, so still at altitude. Some of Peru’s oldest tribes live on the numerous islands on the lake and Spanish is their second language, although the older generations don’t speak any Spanish.
The lake is 180 km long 60 km wide 280 feet deep roughly and used to be connected to the sea along with three other lakes, one of them is now the Bolivian salt flats hence the salt. Apparently Lake Titicaca is drying up too and will be salt flats one day but considering the size and depth of it, it’s hard to imagine that this will happen any time soon!
The first island we visited was called Uros and is a floating island, where everything including the island itself, the houses and boats are made of reeds. The Uros people survive largely from tourism with the likes of us visiting and the women sell crafts whilst most of the men from the islands go off fishing and hunting to survive. There are many different little reed islands with anything from 6 families upwards living independently on them.
We then went to another island which was a natural island, not a reed island. We did another homestay here which was a better experience than the one in Guatemala, although our lack of Spanish still held us back. The local food was actually really good, considering the most basic facilities each family have – their kitchen was a tiny mud hut with a tiny clay oven on which they managed to cook us up a few treats. We walked up the fairly big hill in the middle of the island which was at 4200m high for a panoramic view of the lake and another pretty awesome sunset. After dinner we were dressed up in the local traditional costumes, ready for the island fiesta! (Unfortunately the costumes were probably the most unflattering thing I have ever worn and they added at least 4 stone to everyone).This was held in a sort of village hall, with 2 local bands and a sort of bar too! The local dance on the island mainly consists of holding hands and running around the hall! Our host Mama was getting very into it and we barely got chance to catch our breath in between dances before she was insisting that we were up again. All in all, it was actually a pretty funny evening but it took me about half an hour to get out of all of the skirts I was wearing!
We took the slowest boat in the world back to the mainland and from there headed deeper into the mountains towards Cuzco.