Day 6: From Arequipa to Puno

Puno Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 17 › view all entries
"Hey, you human, don't keep that food all for yourself!"
A new record for this holiday: setting the alarmclock at half past three! A record I don't hope to break very quickly... It's just a little later that we get a good impression of the excellent service in this hotel: they opened the restaurant especially for us, so we can have breakfast at quarter past four.

The reason for our early rise and departure, is that we are taking the early flight out of Arequipa, to go to Juliaca by plane. Checking in and passing the police control are much easier than in Schiphol, as the metaldetector does not start bleeping as I go through (nearly a first time for me to get through first try), and I am even allowed to take my bottle of water with me.
One last look at El Misti
.. An opened bottle! Well, maybe it did make a difference that he saw me taking a large sip out of that bottle just before the checkpoint - something not really done lightly when the bottle is filled with...

In the plane (an Airbus A319, which we board climbing stairs after a walk across the tarmac - with beautiful view of the sun starting to rise over El Misti), to my great horror I find myself sitting at the isle instead of the the window - the seats between me and a view of the Andes are taken by two Peruvians, who are asleep almost all of the time (what a waste, sleeping at a windowseat!).

In spite of the disadvantage of the location of my seat, I still manage to take a few pictures of the landscape below during the flight, which takes just over half an hour. On the facade of the airport building we are greeted by a number that seems to be there as a warning: "altitude: 3825 m".
A first glance at Lago Titicaca
It's a warning to take things slowly, even though we don't feel anything - yet!

There is a further welcome at the bagage reclaim: a group of Inca-musicians, to comfortise the waiting for our suitcases - which doesn't take all that long, as for the moment, our plane is the only one to have arrived recently. So half an hour after touchdown, we are in the bus, all our luggage returned to us, packed in the cargohold of the bus and on the road again.

The first thing we notice here, is the completely different landscape and a completely different weather. The landscape, although almost four kilometers above sealevel, is as flat as a pancake, nearly all the way to the horizon, where the Andes mountains sharply raise skywards: we are on the altiplano. The weather is sunny but chill, almost cold - the chillness is treachorous: because of the height, the radiation of the sun is so much more intense, that you get sunburned before you know it, without feeling the heat of the sun.
We´re high now!


Our first stop on the altiplano, or just on the edge of the Andes, to be more precisely, is in Sillustani, a graveyard of the Aymara people, a pre-Inca civilization. Although most of the tombs are in ruins, the site still makes quite an impression. If you didn't know any better, you wouldn't recognise the tombs as such, even if they had been still in tact. They are like windowless towers (were, I should say), with a very small door at the bottom. Each of these doors is facing east, so the sun passes through at the sunrise of the 21nd of June (midsummer).

From the parkingplace to the tomes, we have climb a hill. We climb that hill at a snale's pace, again to avoid altitude sickness.
One of the tombs (the best preserved) of Sillustani
None of us has any symptoms yet, but now, after about two to three hours of this height, we start feeling something, most of us a little short of breath. But the climb is worth it: from the top of the hill, we have a magnicifent view over a lake, the Lago Umayo. It's also at this viewpoint that I decide to take an energy bar (a snack stuffed with different grains and raisins, held together by a sticky thick form of sugary syrop - not at all bad, not at all my favourite, but very useful now), only to find out that I have competition for the food: a stray dog comes begging to me for pieces of the bar.

That not the only animal life we meet on the hill: on the way down, there's also a young boy with a baby vicuña - and of course, there again all cameras are drawn to take as many pictures as possible of that supercute animal.
That same best preserved tomb of Sillustani is not that well preserved after all...


At our return from the top of the hill to the visitor centre, I have a little run in with a local boy who tends to the toilets. The price for using the toilets is one sol, but I only have a coin of five. Suddenly he has some kind of attack of acute amnesia, for he insists that I gave him one sol. A few minutes of dicussion follow, but the threat of intervention from more of our group presuade him to give me te correct change for the use of the not-so-clean-after-all smallest room (so if you ever come there, beware of the money changing trick - one sol is a very small amount of money, but still it's quite enough for this kind of service not to be cheated out of more).

After that, I still have a little time left to wander along the stalls with hand made souvenirs, all the locals behind them begging me to look at their merchandise, trying desperately to convince me that theirs is the one that I should buy - apart from two, none of them succeed (one sells very nice chains with worked stones, the other one bottles of drink, one more thing very much required at this height).
Dogs are also impressed in the view :)


It takes us just six minutes by bus to reach our second destination: a typical local farm. We are greeted by a llama, two alpacas, a dog, four little children and the lady of the house. Our tour guide and our local guide together give us a tour around the farm, which consists of four buildings: the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen and the lavatory (yes, each room a seperate building). You can't get from one room to another without going outside. Looking at the size of the rooms, it's almost unimaginable for us westeners that a whole family of six (at least that's the count I got to) can live in such a small place.

In the yard, we are presented a local dish: boiled potatoes and cheese. Peru could well potato-country number one: they grow no less than 4000 varieties in Peru, of which more than 1000 grow on the altiplano.
Baby vicuña
So no suprise that we get a taste of that: a small potato (about the size of a pingpong ball), boiled, cut in half and covered with a slice of the local cheese (a white cheese with a very soft taste).

There's also some kind sauce we are invited to try on our potato. Then we must guess what sauce we have eaten. It looks like a bit of very dark mustard, more olivegreen than yellow, but has a very similar texture. It tastes very different though: it's mostly tasteless, but the little taste you do get from it, is a little sandy... not surprsingly, considering the answer we get a little later: it's clay! Clay mixed with water... The saying goes that we Dutch created our own country... Peruvians are litterally eating theirs!

And of course, our visit finishes with the lady of the house, together with her sister and eldest daugther, showing us their handcrafted object, which, of course, are for sale.
And because they are so very hospitable to us, none of us has the heart not to buy anything... And, honestly, their handywork does look very nice indeed and of very fine quality.

From there on, we go non stop to our hotel. We arrive there shortly before noon, so we can have a quiet afternoon to get acclimatised to the height. I have to wait a little while before I can go to my room: mine's not yet finished (I was the last to book for this trip, so I am always bottom of the list, even when it comes to hotels preparing rooms). But in the end I can go to my room with a view, a view over the Titicaca lake.

I do spend the afternoon very relaxed, phoning home, have lunch, writing postcards and drinking coca-tea. At lunch it becomes clear the the height is making victims in our group: three of us require some time at the oxygen, two more are very sick (too sick to appear at lunch of dinner), but can go without extra oxygen, half of the group feels at least a little sick, and we all feel a bit off-colour.
Lago Umayo
One of our groups describes it as having a bad hang-over without having had a drop to drink. I escape without the very worst symptoms, but in the end of the afternoon, I too get a bad spell: after a little nap I feel so horribly cold, that I can't stop shivering violently for about half an hour, in spite of taking place against my heater-on-full-power.

But it subsides after a while (at the moment it seemed like ages, but it wasn't really all that long), and the dinner buffet helps even further, after which I even have enough energy to play a few card games with two of the group to end this first day in the Andes.
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Hey, you human, dont keep that f…
"Hey, you human, don't keep that …
One last look at El Misti
One last look at El Misti
A first glance at Lago Titicaca
A first glance at Lago Titicaca
We´re high now!
We´re high now!
One of the tombs (the best preserv…
One of the tombs (the best preser…
That same best preserved tomb of S…
That same best preserved tomb of …
Dogs are also impressed in the vie…
Dogs are also impressed in the vi…
Baby vicuña
Baby vicuña
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Our plane
Our plane
The Andes from the plane
The Andes from the plane
A volcano
A volcano
Juliaca airport
Juliaca airport
The welcoming committee
The welcoming committee
The altiplano
The altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
On the Altiplano
Alpaca
Alpaca
At the foot of the hill of Sillust…
At the foot of the hill of Sillus…
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Stray dog
Stray dog
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Thats how the tombs are built: st…
That's how the tombs are built: s…
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
A close-up of the building techniq…
A close-up of the building techni…
The east-facing entrance of the be…
The east-facing entrance of the b…
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Sillustani
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
Lago Umayo
What a view!
What a view!
Oh, give me something
"Oh, give me something"
Baby vicuña
Baby vicuña
Llama and alpaca
Llama and alpaca
Vicuña
Vicuña
Our tourleader prepares a snack fo…
Our tourleader prepares a snack f…
Loal Peruvian food
Loal Peruvian food
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
Grinding quiña
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
The kitchen
View over Lago Titicaca
View over Lago Titicaca
Puno, on the banks of Lago Titicaca
Puno, on the banks of Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
View over Puno and Lago Titicaca
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
Puno
A look into the ktichen of our hot…
A look into the ktichen of our ho…
Row row row your boat...
Row row row your boat...
Puno Hotels & Accommodations review
Comfortable large rooms with a stunning view
A very welcome luxury, when you have to get acclimatised to the height. The rooms are very comfortable and large, beds are comfortable and the view… read entire review
Puno
photo by: lrecht