Day 7: Puno and on Lago Titicaca
Puno Travel Blog› entry 10 of 17 › view all entries
August 2nd, 2009 – by: davdstraat
We leave for the harbour of Puno at seven A.M., from where we are going to make a "cruise" on Lake Titicaca, the heighest navigatable lake in the world (3820 m). This cruise is a lot more comfortable than our boattrip to the Islas Ballestas (on day 2) - but we will be much longer on the ship too.
Soon after lifting the anchor, we pass through some remarkable pieces nature: vast fields of reed, where many different kinds of waterbirds live - quite a number of those species can only be found on Lake Titicaca, nowhere else in the world.
We moore at one of the Uros Islands. These islands are inhabited by the Uros Indians, a tribe that originates locally. But there is something very special about these islands: they are complete artifical. Everything is made of reed, even the islands themselves. That is why we are warned not to stay on one spot when near the edge of the island: you might fall through (and very much involutarily find out about the water temperatur of Lake Titicaca in local mid-winter).
They also have to be very careful when cooking. That's also about the only thing not made of reed: the stones, on which they make their cooking fires (and sometimes it still goes wrong, and a whole island burns down).
Each of the locals takes one or a few of our group with them, to show us their houses.
In the time that we walk around the island by ourselves, after all the explanations, the Urossians bring out the handycrafts (did you expect anything else?) for us to buy (did you expect anything else?).
Everything is made of reed here... so boats as well. That is how we sail to another of the Uros islands: by reed boat, rowed by two Uros Indians. It's even a boat with a cabin, and from the top of the cabin, we have a good view of the surroundings (more Uros islands).
After a bit of looking around at that second island (where there are flamingo's walking freely), our "own" boat is waiting there, which is going to take us a long way further up the lake, all the way to Taquili island, some two and a half hours at full speed. That is where our lunch restaurant is. We have a traditional Titicaca lunch: soupe and fish (trout, freshly caught in the lake), with a cup of mint tea (another of the Peruvian cure-to-all-discomforts).
On our three and a half hour way back, the sun is first almost blocked by the huge clouds of smoke, originating from a ceremonial fire (reed is sacrificed in honor of mother earth - from a disitance it looks like they are burning up a number of whole Uros islands), and later we can almost see the sun set into lake Titicaca.
From the harbour we return to our hotel, where have some time to have a little rest and change for dinner. Tonight we are going out to diner in the centre of Puno. The centre looks nice and cosy, all lights on in the evening and the market still going like business as usual.
We have dinner at the restaurant El Tulipo - very appropriate: a Dutch groupe eating in a restaurant of which the name translates as "tulip" - but it is not exactly a recommended dinner site: service is very slow and the food is just near cold (ok, a salad is supposed to be, but an alpaca steak is not). So after desert (fruitsalad for me - I let the mostly chosen tiramisu pass by), we return with mixed feelings about our "going out for dinner" to our hotel, where we all decide that the altitude demands another good night sleeping, so we deploy no further activities.
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