Puno and Lake Titicaca

Puno Travel Blog

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Puno on a glassy morning

We enjoyed a relatively short bus ride, around 7 hrs, from Arequipa to Puno arriving around 3pm in the afternoon. Built on the shores of Lake Titicaca its Perus main port for the gigantic lake (which it shares with Bolivia) and the best place to depart for a visit to the islands on Perus side, including the famous floating reed islands.

On recommendation from Land Adventures (our tour company to Colca De Canyon) we hunted down a little hostel with high hopes. On arrival the doors were all locked up which we thought was a little strange. Never-the-less, we gave the door bell a good ding-dong and suprisingly enough, a small old lady came to greet us, cackling all the way.

Waiting for our boat to board
She was scary I tell you. Her cackle made you think there was something that she knew which you didnt. Stepping inside, we did the customary travellers thing and asked to see the room. Up one flight of stairs and to the left she opened up the door into what was a huge vinyl floored room, containing a couple of tressel tables and cupboards in the form of lockers. Now this was all very good if we had wanted to get out some canvases and relive a bit of high school art class but where was the bed? No problem, she would set it all up for us. By this time we started to get the feeling that it probably wasnt what we imagined and given the 'deserted' feel of the place, decided to try our luck elsewhere. Eventually finding a hostel/hotel which was quite expensive $US10 a night but it had a good feel so we grabbed it.
Ahhh, the boating life!!

As a place to visit, Puno was ok. It had some good eating places, a number of internet cafes (some awesome looking old style video arcades), tour agencies and some churches. It seemed to be quite a young city, with lots of children and teenagers creating a party kind of atmosphere after dark. But we didnt really come to see Puno, it was Lake Titicaca that we were interested in.

For me, the name Lake Titicaca, is synonomous with a 'magical land in a far off place' so it was quite amazing when we found ourselves standing on its shores at 7:30am in the morning ready to embark on a boating adventure, even if the water was covered in green algae that emitted a rather foul stench. Backing our spanish skills (well Annas spanish skills really) we decided to go 'tourless' on this adventure and do it all ourselves.

The snow-capped mountains of Bolivia in the distance
...and looking back on it, I am so glad we did. Our aim for the trip was to get a boat to Taquille island where we would spend a night before getting a boat back the next day. A couple of nervous moments at the ticket office, and we were aboard. Then, after being entertained by an absolutely sensational pan pipe version of the Beatles Obli-dee-obli-dah later, followed by the obligatory 'tip' (twice!! Don't get me started!!), the boat chugged off. Made of wood, it was probably 10-15 long with a large inside cabin that extended to an outdoor seating area. The boat was very much a 'local' boat, full of character and carrying mostly old men and women who had probably lived here all there lives, it felt sturdy but it moved at the pace of 'eddy the eel' in his prime.

Luckily for us, there were enough travellers aboard (5 in total I think) to warrant a stop at the famous floating islands on the way to Taquille. Made out of reeds sourced from the lake, these islands literally float on the surface of the water and they support large communities of indigenous people. Even though we only got to see the more 'touristy' islands, it was still amazing to see how these people lived. After some poor attempts at chatting to the locals on my behalf, and some photos on Annas behalf we were off again.

As we moved further and further away from land you get to see just how enormous the lake is. Deep blue and stretching as far as the eye can see it feels more like being on the open water than it does an enclosed lake. As we continued to chug along with the sun beating down, it reminded my alot of the D'Entrecasteux Channel at home in the summer time and I was suddenly very glad to be near the water again!!

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Puno on a glassy morning
Puno on a glassy morning
Waiting for our boat to board
Waiting for our boat to board
Ahhh, the boating life!!
Ahhh, the boating life!!
The snow-capped mountains of Boliv…
The snow-capped mountains of Boli…
Puno
photo by: lrecht