Highest navigable lake in the world
Puno Travel Blog› entry 11 of 34 › view all entries
After yet another hang over plagued 8 hour bus ride we arrived in our last Peruvian destination. Puno is the main town providing access to lake Titicaca. At 3812 meters above sea level this is the highest navigable lake in the world. Dan, our guide from the Lares trek, told informed me with a large grin that the Peruvian side is the Titi and the Bolivian side is the Caca.
Our locally pedaled three wheeled carriages raced us from the hotel to the waterfront early Tuesday morning. The group was split into two because the slow moving roof riding boats could not accommodate the full lot. The size of the 8400 km2 lake impressed most of the English and Aussies but for me, the lake itself was looked like a typical Canadian lake.
A three hour ride, half of which was through narrow passages through high reeds, brought us to one of the more habituated islands. The hour long hike to the top of the island was shadowed by the recent memories of the much more impressive Lares trek. We all had trout for lunch which was introduced to the lake from Canada 30 years ago and is now the favorite fish for the area. After another short boat ride we arrived at another Island where we met up with the Quechua speaking local families who housed us in there simple homes for the evening. We took took it to the locals three to none in feisty football games. The altitude during these games affected me more than at any other point thus far. I was just playing defense and after about five minutes I had dizzyingly low oxygen in my cranium.
After a short nap to regain my wits Dan, Adam and I had supper with our local family. The entire population of 5000 on the island are forced vegetarians since there is no livestock. We had a nice meal of vegetable soup and mashed vegetables and rice with the whole family. Grandma, Mom, Dad, Son, Daughter, and three grandkids. I can not remember there Quechua names. Alfrado, the 35 year old son, was one of the very few on the island who was in the process of learning english. This along with having some young children to play with made our family the best of the lot.
After supper we were dressed up in traditional costumes and headed for the local hall for a night of song and dance with the locals.
The next morning we stopped at 2 of the 45 man made floating reed islands where people have been living for over 500 years. They originally built the islands to avoid rule and associated taxes from the mainland. They used to fish for a living but now their main income is creating souvenirs for tourists. One old lady told me through a translator that she had only left the 100 m2 (tiny) reed platform twice in her 70 years of existence. As expected most of the young people are moving to the mainland and the population of the reed dwellers is slowly dwindling.