Lake Titicaca borders both Peru and Bolivia, it is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world, at 3812 meters! Around 4000 people live on the floating islands in the Lake and the Uros tribe pre-dates the Incan civilisation, these communities have preserved much of their historic way of life.
How to get to Puno – or not?
I travelled to Puno from Ica where I had been visiting Huacachina and Paracas, the bus was scheduled to arrive in Puno 17 hours later. However, due to an earthquake our bus was stopped overnight because the road wasn’t safe! I finally arrived in Puno 30 hours later! This is not unusual in South America, particularly in Peru. Transport via road, air or Sea is often delayed! I made the error of not bringing enough food on the bus, and although snacks were served, the ham sandwiches were not vegetarian friendly and I went hungry!
The Floating Islands
Due to the high altitude of Puno, I felt my lungs pinch straight off the bus! I initially thought that sitting for 30 hours, with no proper food had some how weakened me to the point of causing me to become incapable of carrying my backpack and then I remembered that I was just super high up and that’s why I couldn’t breath properly!
I booked to sleep on the Uros floating Islands Lodge Uros Aruma Uro, for my one night stay in Puno. I was collected from the bus terminal by car, where I had arranged to meet my transfer by the coffee machine! I was first driven to the edge of the lake and then transferred to a speed boat where I was given plenty of blankets and taken to the floating island I would stay on. I was provided with tea, a hot water bottle, and corn soup with Peruvian bread! I couldnt have asked for better after my horribly long bus journey.
The floating island I stayed was made entirely out of totora reeds which grow in the lake, by night I saw a crystal clear sky and a million stars, it was amazing. In the morning I was blown away by the magical floating island and the reeds everywhere, they were surprisingly springy to walk on.
Things to do on Lake Titicaca
I arranged a two hour boat tour of the islands, a fishing lesson and a visit to a traditional home on the lake. I was taken in a traditional boat and first shown the Totura reeds, our guide demonstrated how the reeds are extracted from the lake, where there is a knife stuck to a large stick on a string, stored by the reeds which they use to hack the totura that would then float allowing the person to collect it. We were then shown the reeds, and told about the healing properties of the Totura, such as reducing a fever, would healing even for a tootheache. I tried some, it tasted like cucumber, but crunchy.
On Lake Titicaca Totora reeds are a way of life, they use them to make their homes, schools, boats, for medicine and food.
I was then shown how inhabitants of the lake fish, by leaving nets in the water and then pulling it out metre by metre every day to see what they have caught.
I then returned to my island and was transferred to a larger boat and visited the home of a local family, I was told about the history of the Lake, the Islands and how they are formed and why. Its really nice. I was then encouraged to try on some traditional colourful peruvian clothing.
I spent the afternoon jumping into the lake with the other people staying on my island, before travelling into Puno in search of Pisco Sours and playing Jenga, before hopping on my overnight bus to Cusco.
It was great to spend a couple of days acclimatising to the high altitude in Puno before reaching Cusco.
Love B x