Hi everyone! The first article for our Colourful Peru blog is dedicated to one of my favorite places in the Peruvian Andes: the Lake Titicaca – Puno.
The Lake Titicaca is shared with Bolivia and it is located at 3,812 meters above sea level (12, 506.56 feet), between Puno (Peru) 56% and La Paz (Bolivia) 44%. It is known as the highest navigable lake in the world and the second largest in South America with an 8,400 km2 surface area.
Legend has it that Manco Cápac, the first Inca, and Mama Ocllo, both children of the sun, emerged from the Titicaca waters to build a great empire as ordered by the Sun god.
On the lake we can find several islands among which the floating islands of the Uros, the Taquile and Amantaní islands and the Sun and Moon islands in Bolivia stand out.
Now, I am going to tell you a little bit about the experience of living a two-day trip to this impressive lake.
On our first day, we woke up early to get ready and have breakfast at the hotel in Puno. Our guide, Willy picked us up before 8 a.m. to take us to the port. It is important to take with you warm clothing, a windbreaker jacket to take onboard, sunscreen and a cap.
Our first stop was at one of the Uros islands. The Uros are several small floating islands built by its own inhabitants with totora which is a plant that grows on the lake’s surface. There, our guide with the help of the island’s inhabitants, told us about how they built their islands and houses and the story of how the island’s first inhabitants started 500 years ago. Then, we had the option of sailing on a totora raft and we had free time to enjoy the view, to take pictures and even to speak to the inhabitants to know more about their culture and lifestyle.
We heard our guide’s call to get on the boat and sail a few meters to get to an island where we found several stalls to buy crafts handmade by the inhabitants. I enjoyed a lot the intense colors this place offers us combined with the lake’s blue and the totora straw.
We got onboard once again, and continued our trip for two more hours until we got to the Amantaní island. This island has a 9.28 km2 surface area and it is inhabited by a little over four thousand people. Upon arrival, our guide allocated us with a host family with whom we spent the night and ate. There, you won’t find hotels, lodges or restaurants, so it is the best place to live a day as a local. Mrs. Rosita, our hostess, gladly welcomed us and took us to her home: A small two-story house that was very clean and – above all- had an amazing view.
We left our backpacks in our room and went to the dining room to have lunch. There we met two Irish girls that were also staying at Mrs. Rosita’s house.
At the top of the island we found two temples: Pachatata and Pachamama. After lunch, we began a trek to the Pachatata temple. We took amazing pictures of the island and lake while our guide told us about the temples’ history. After walking for more than an hour, we arrived at the top where we could watch a beautiful sunset.
Once the sun set, we left the temple and arrived home to enjoy a dinner prepared with local ingredients. After dinner, we had the option of going to the island’s party where we got together with other visitors and their hosts to share our experiences and make new friends from around the world. Mrs. Rosita lent us beautiful Amantaní’s traditional costumes that we used to go to the party. On our way to the party’s place, we could admire the sky full of stars. Don’t forget to make a wish if you see a shooting star, I did so :).
The island is very cold at night, the temperature can drop to -10°C (14°F) depending on the season. Even though the beds are dressed with several blankets, I suggest taking a sleeping bag that will allow you to rest and replenish energy for the next day.
On the second day, the sunlight woke us up very early. After having a delicious breakfast of pancakes and muña (a mint-like Peruvian herb) tea Mrs. Rosita came with us to the port to say goodbye.
We boarded our boat and we arrived at Taquile after an hour. This island is at 4,000 meters above sea level (13,123.36 feet) and has a 5.72 km2 surface area. It is inhabited by 2,000 people whose policy is based on the Inca’s moral code: “Ama sua, ama llulla, ama quella” which means “you shall not steal, you shall not lie, you shall not be lazy”. We walked about 30 minutes uphill until we got to the viewpoint. We spent some time there watching the lake and charging energy.
Then, we took a stroll with our guide while he told us how people in Taquile live. Before arriving at the port, we had a delicious trout for lunch at a local restaurant. If you are a vegetarian you can also find meat-free dishes.
Before we got onboard to return to Puno, we took the opportunity to take the last pictures and admire the amazing landscape the island offers.
For me, the Lake Titicaca is a magical place, full of energy and wonderful landscapes. If you come to Peru, you shouldn’t miss a visit to this lake. There, you will live the essence of the Andes and share two days with its inhabitants getting to know their lifestyle, culture food and traditions.
Check out this suggested journey: Puno and Lake Titicaca in 4days
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