The mythical Lago Titicaca.

Amantani Travel Blog

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Going to the Uros islands and Amantani.

Lago Titica has been always one of the sights I was interested to see when I was a kid. At that time it was just a dream of a little boy who wanted to see as much as possible from the world. But...some dreams really come true one day and now I was here in Peru looking forward to a 2 days tour on the famous lake.

Poor Dan, he had to stay in our hotel room. Even if he felt already a bit better that day, it was still far away from being able to join us for the tour.

Me, Marian and Pavel went downstairs to  the reception at 8am as agreed with the lady from yesterday.

She was a bit late, but soon we saw her coming.

She organized a taxi that brought us to some sort of collection point, where we got into a minibus which brought us suddenly to the port.

Our middle sized boat was full of tourist from all around the world, all of them looking the same no matter where they were from. What am I talking about, we three didn’t look different actually. The only thing that distinguished us from the others was just the language we spoke. It was just this feeling of getting into the mass tourism trap again I like to avoid whenever possible. Well, if we have had enough time in Puno we could have organized something more “private”.

On the uros islands...artificial islands on the Titicaca lake.
Maybe next time?

Short time after the departure of our boat our guide appeared and gave us some explanation in English and Spanish about lake Titicaca and the islands we were supposed to visit. Understanding both languages in such cases is very useful as I found out already in other occasions. Guides who give their explanations in two or more languages forget to translate sometimes little parts of what they said in the other language. But back to lake Titicaca.

Beside the fact that it’s the highest navigable lake, it’s also South America’s largest. Actually, the border between Peru and Bolivia passes through it.

Our first stop on that day was one of the unique floating islands of the Uros people. This small tribe began its “floating” existence centuries ago trying to isolate from the aggressive indigenous Collas and the Incas. The islands are built using layers of the “totora” reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. The Uros use the reeds to make their homes, boats and the crafts they sell to the tourists. It was a weird feeling to step on one of the islands as the ground was soft and springly. The island’s reeds are constantly replenished from the top as they rot away after a couple of weeks. They are even eatable as our guide proved us. We were sitting in a circle around him and he told us about the Uros people, their way of life and how they build their islands. Of course the island we were on looked like being built only to bring tourists there, but it was still pretty impressive. For an extra fee some of us made even a little tour on a reed boat.

From here our group continued to the island Amantani…a real island.

Our bilingual guide.
This less frequently visited peace of land is a few kilometers northeast of the more toristic Taquile island.

We stepped out of the boat and our guide leaded us a bit up hill. There were already some indigenous people waiting. We were supposed to stay at their homes that night. When suddenly our names were called as well we stepped forward to greet our temporary host mother, a bright smiling little woman who didn’t seem to be older then 30. Her native language was Quechua, but she spoke Spanish as well of course. She was really a shy nice woman always with a smile on her face. Must have been a bit strange for her to have 3 guys at her place. She leaded us to her house which was a bit aside. The house looked a bit shabby, but we didn’t expect much more. The room we were supposed to stay in was probably the best in the whole house, at least that was our impression. There were four beds (bad luck, Dan would have loved this) and a table.

Our guide explaining how they create the artificial islands.
A clean nice room, just one thing was missing….electricity. No problem, we would get candles later.

The host mother lived here with her mother and two children, a 7 years old girl and a 5 years old boy. We couldn’t see a man anywhere, later the host mother told us that she was divorced. We were told before the trip that it’s common to bring some presents to the family you’re staying in and the best would be to bring rice, noodles, sugar, etc. We bought different stuff in Puno and now we gave it to our host mother who took it with a bright smile.

Her kids inherited her kindness obviously, me and Pavel played some soccer with them in the little courtyard. A bit later we were called to get our lunch in the kitchen.

The kitchen had clay walls and almost no furniture, just a fire place and table with four chairs. It was the sort of kitchens you could see on TV when they showed the poverty of people in Africa, Asia or South America, but usually the common tourists didn’t get to see it. Nevertheless the food was really good. But I have to admit that I felt guilty that us 3 were sitting by the table and the rest of the family by the fire place. They were more then fine they assured.

After the lunch our host mother brought us to the meeting point where our guide was waiting for us already. But not before borrowing each of us a “chulo”, a typical Peruvian cap. She was right, it became pretty cold in the evening and the chulos warmed our ears. After everybody had arrived, our guide leaded us up the hill to the remains of a sacred indigenous place on the “Papachata” hill.

There was of course a “Mamachata” hill as well, hahaaha, but we opted for this one.

The view from here was amazing and we got the opportunity to see a beautiful sun down. Thanks to the altitude the air in this region is very clean and the view much better then anywhere else.

After this little excursion we returned down and the host mother took us back to her house to get us the dinner. Being here with a nice girl would have made the candle light dinner we had (remember? No electricity) quite romantic, but sitting with two guys by the table was just a completely different thing. The locals prepared for us a little fiesta that night (I prefer not to know how often they do this kind of fiestas for the foreigners) we were supposed to join.

The Uros islands are amazing.
For that the host mother brought us some “ponchos” and “chulos”. I have to admit that we looked quite funny, hehe.

Was a bit difficult to follow the road to the fiesta place in the darkness, at least there was some moonlight. When everybody arrived the party started, the musicians started playing their instruments and the locals started dancing. To involve the foreigners the families took their guests to dance as well. So did our host mother. The first victim was Marian, next song me and then Pavel. The people danced here all the songs the same way and it was easy to follow. But to be honest, due to the altitude we got out of breath quite quickly, hahaha. We noticed that some of the foreigners bought a coke or something similar to their host parents, so we decided to do the same. Our host mother thanked us with a bright smile again.The fiesta didn’t take very long, most of us were just tired and wanted to get to bed early.

A boat.

Early morning the young girl woke us up at around 7am. We needed to catch the boat back to Puno, so we wouldn’t join the rest of the group anymore. Our host mother decided that she would come with us to buy some stuff in the city. After the breakfast we said goodbye to the kids and the grandmother and followed the host mother out. Unfortunately the regular boat connection to Puno departed from another side of the Amantani island, so it took us some 45 minutes of walk to get there. We got to the boat and waited for the departure. We were told that the captain will tell us the price for the trip later…obviously foreigners didn’t travel in his boat very often and we would have to pay a higher price as the locals. Suddenly it was some 15 soles each, more then we expected but well…could have been worse. Later I noticed that the captain gave some money to our host mother, maybe some kind of provision? I didn’t mind, she was a divorced young woman with 2 kids who had a hard life.

Me...

Back in Puno we said goodbye to her and took a taxi to our hotel where Dan was already waiting at the reception. He looked better already and as he said he did some little sightseeing of Puno already. Good. About half later the woman that organized for us the trip arrived and organized a taxi to bring us to the bus terminal. There she asked us to wait and went to get us the tickets.

Didn’t take long and soon we were sitting in our bus direction Bolivia. A new country, a new experience. Hopefully there won’t be any trouble at the border.  

yadilitta says:
have to go back there and spend one night in the islands...
Posted on: Feb 09, 2009
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Going to the Uros islands and Aman…
Going to the Uros islands and Ama…
On the uros islands...artificial i…
On the uros islands...artificial …
Our bilingual guide.
Our bilingual guide.
Our guide explaining how they crea…
Our guide explaining how they cre…
The Uros islands are amazing.
The Uros islands are amazing.
A boat.
A boat.
Me...
Me...
Marian enjoying the view.
Marian enjoying the view.
Sellin souvenirs.
Sellin souvenirs.
Heading to the island Amantani.
Heading to the island Amantani.
Passing another boat.
Passing another boat.
On the island Amantani.
On the island Amantani.
Following our host mother.
Following our host mother.
In our room.
In our room.
Me in front of the door to our roo…
Me in front of the door to our ro…
The kids of our host mother.
The kids of our host mother.
Pavel playing football with the ki…
Pavel playing football with the k…
Playing with the kids - picture fr…
Playing with the kids - picture f…
Pavel, me and the kids - - picture…
Pavel, me and the kids - - pictur…
Pavel with the kids of our host mo…
Pavel with the kids of our host m…
Me and the kids.
Me and the kids.
Having lunch.
Having lunch.
Me and Marian...
Me and Marian...
Pavel trying to communicate with l…
Pavel trying to communicate with …
Climbing up...
Climbing up...
It was pretty cold up here.
It was pretty cold up here.
Pavel taking pictures.
Pavel taking pictures.
Sun down...
Sun down...
In our room in the evening.
In our room in the evening.
Our hostmother borrowed us some po…
Our hostmother borrowed us some p…
Marian and Pavel looking local.
Marian and Pavel looking local.
A local boy band, hehehe.
A local boy band, hehehe.
Marian dancing with our hostmother.
Marian dancing with our hostmother.
Pavel dancing with our hostmother.
Pavel dancing with our hostmother.
A performance of the locals.
A performance of the locals.
Me dancing with our hostmother.
Me dancing with our hostmother.
Going to take the boat back to Pun…
Going to take the boat back to Pu…
Amantani
photo by: marg_eric