Posts Tagged With: lake titicaca

Quest of the Gods – Day 12, Lake Titicaca

Waking at 5am seems to be a theme on this trip, and again I woke early…. this time due to the intense heat being provided in my sauna/hotel room.  After a quick shower, I headed down for breakfast and had french toast, yoghurt and papaya juice.

We all met early and at 7:15 started our trip to Lake Titicaca with a ride on some local cycle taxis to the ferry.

Cycle taxi selfie, the driver photobombed

Cycle taxi selfie, the driver photobombed

After a hair raising race through the city we arrived at the port and boarded a boat.  We were using a commercial tour company for this day, so Harold introduced us to “Clever”, our tour operator, who was guiding us for the day.  The boat would visit two islands – first Taquile, which is a “real” island, and then on to the floating islands later in the day.

Boat selfie, photobombs all over the place

Boat selfie, photobombs all over the place

Lake titicaca

Lake titicaca

Being brave on top of the boat

Being brave on top of the boat

The ride to Taquile took about an hour and Clever gave us a rundown on the life of the lake – it’s the “highest navigable lake in the world”, at 3800m and big enough that some pretty large boats ferry around people and goods from Peru to Bolivia and back.

Once we arrived at Taquile we had a short hike across the island to see how life is living in the middle of the lake.  For a lot of the people on the group tour, this was a real challenge but for all of us who had just finished the Inca Trail, this was a walk in the park, and we steamed ahead!

Taquile

Taquile

We visited another weaving project, this one based on the island, and were shown a lot of the same techniques as were demonstrated back in the Planeterra project.  Harold found me a “single” lady (you can tell by the big pompoms on her dress, apparently) and insisted we should have photos together.  She fitted me with the customary “single guys” hat, so we would match.  Awkward photo below.

Weaving

Weaving

More weaving

More weaving

Awkward photo

Awkward photo

After we finished our shopping (of course the weavers tried to sell us everything), we headed to a nearby beach for a 25 minute relax before our boat continued its tour.  Our group made the most of that time, and Steffi and Mike actually went for a swim in the lake.  The rest of us just paddled.

Archway

Archway

Beach selfie

Beach selfie

Seffi doing her Bong girl impression

Seffi doing her Bong girl impression

Mike trying to splash us

Mike trying to splash us

Group beach photo

Group beach photo

Next we re-boarded the boat and sailed back to the mainland for lunch.  We docked at a peninsula on the mainland and were greeted by a shaman who took us through a traditional food blessing ceremony.  Our food was buried in the ground and had been cooking for 45 minutes under ground, and after some ceremonial blessings it was dug up for us to feast on.

Shaman

Shaman

Kirsten and her new friend

Kirsten and her new friend

Lunch cooking under ground

Lunch cooking under ground

Lunch being dug up

Lunch being dug up

Lunch was great, although they had to cook an omelette for me in the ‘real’ kitchen since they hadn’t arranged anything specific for a vegetarian in the underground oven.  I still ate the potatoes, beans and sweet potato from the ground and it was great to try something cooked so traditionally.  The rest of the group ate trout (caught from the lake) and chicken (not caught from the lake).

Once lunch was over and we were sated, we headed on a short boat ride over to the floating islands, or Uros.

Uros selfie

Uros selfie

Uros

Uros

The floating islands are made by constructing reeds from the lake into a weaved mesh and then placing them on top of one another, until they create a floating platform.  They are anchored the same way a boat would anchor to the bottom of the lake, and people live there the whole year around.  The lake reeds eventually rot away, so every week they need replenishing.  It’s a fascinating way of life, and it was amazing and privileged to be able to walk around and meet these people.  The build EVERYTHING out of reeds, including their houses, boats, seats, and beds.  We were greeted by the residents when we arrived and given a speech by the leader of the island, before being given time to explore (and do shopping if we wished).  There were piles of cheeky children on the island who enjoyed trying to steal our trinkets and climbing over our boat.

A mobile made of reeds

A mobile made of reeds

Kirsten, mike and more cheeky kids

Kirsten, mike and more cheeky kids

Cheeky kids

Cheeky kids

Harold being attacked

Harold being attacked

Lounging around

Lounging around

Once the tour of the island was complete, we headed back on the boat to the mainland and a quick bus tour back to our hotel.  During the boat ride back we were given a cocktail of Pisco and Sprite which actually tasted great!

Pisco and Sprite

Pisco and Sprite

Bus selfie

Bus selfie

After returning we were given a bit of free time (what’s that?!) and Kirsten, Ruth and I headed towards the shops for some postcards and coffee.  It was nice to relax and we reflected a lot on the past days, since this was our last day of planned adventure.  I then settled back into my sauna/hotel room to write postcards for a little while, before meeting at 19:00 for dinner.

We were briefed on the plan for tomorrow before dinner, which involves a 6am departure since we have to catch a flight that leaves only once a day.  We went for dinner to a pizzeria which mysteriously didn’t serve pizzas, so I ended up ordering lasagne.  The rest of the group were feeling adventurous so they ordered a local speciality – Cuy!  Cuy is the quetcha word for Guinea Pig, and is a special local delicacy.  It was weird to see it presented on a plate, such a small animal, but the group tucked in and seemed to comment that it tasted okay, although as expected there wasn’t a lot of meat there!

Cuy

Cuy

Finished cuy

Finished cuy

After dinner, and a very strong Caprhinia, we went to a “Rock and Reggae” club next door for a few more cocktails.  The club had a corner of artwork submitted by Gadventures groups, so we added our own little doodle to the wall in memory of our experience.

By 9:45 we were all sufficiently merry and having played even more Shithead in the bar, we retired to our saunas to be ready for the early start tomorrow.

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Quest of the Gods – Day 11, Bus ride to Puno

After a relaxing/hungover day in Cusco, I found it really hard to sleep in the hotel.  You could argue that this was because I spent most of the previous day “napping”, but really it was noise on the street outside.  There seemed to be something going on out in the street and at 3, 4:15, 5 and various other times I found myself awake.  In the end I gave up trying to sleep and packed my stuff.  Somehow my neatly packed backpack no longer closed, so I ended up with two bags – mainly due to tiredness and lack of logic in packing, I later found out!

Once packed, I headed down for another buffet style breakfast… scrambled eggs, croissant and cereal.  Could just as well have been in europe! I didn’t go for the Tuna fruit!

We met at 7:30 to board our big blue bus for the dreaded 7 hour journey to Puno.  All the journeys on this trip so far have been relatively short and long distances are covered by plane.  But the best way to reach Puno is by road, due to the altitude.  Puno is located at 3800m above sea level, and we met a few people who had flown into it and were suffering awful altitude sickness for 24 hours from arrival.  By arriving by bus you adjust naturally to the altitude, so 7 hours on the fun-bus began!

Big Blue Bus

Big Blue Bus

Bus selfie

Bus selfie

During the journey we stopped at an Inca ruin just outside Cusco which acted as one of two gatehouses to Cusco.  This was pretty neat and it still amazed me that we could just walk all over the site, with no entrance fee, no borders preventing us touching the ruin…. the European tourism style is definitely more restricted!

Inca ruin

Inca ruin

Along the journey, most people chose to sleep but unfortunately for me, I prefer not to sleep on busses so I spent most of the journey reading my new book, The Book Thief, and was progressing through it at an insane pace.  I read slowly, and by the end of the journey I had already read 250 pages of the 540 in the book.  Unheard of for me, so I guess it must be a good book!

We also stopped at some roadside stalls, including one which sold roast lamb and was famous across the whole country.  They had apparently taken their roast lamb to Lima to a food festival a few weeks ago, which is where Harold had met them.  These are the sort of connections you miss when you travel outside of a guided tour, and the carnivores of the group all agreed it was a great tasting piece of meat.  I just watched and tried not to take photos of the lambs head wrapped in beautiful weaved fabric!

Roadside stalls

Roadside stalls

The "high point" of our trip

The “high point” of our trip

At one point we stopped at what was declared the high point of the whole trip.  This pass, we were told, is the highest we would reach during the whole trip – 4335m above sea level.  Of course, that meant we had to get a group photo!

There isn’t that much else to say about the 7 hours… it passed, we got to Puno.  Puno, and neighbouring Juliaca, are both pretty basic cities – Juliaca has 250,000 people and Puno has 150,000.  Unfortunately I would summarise them to be primarily shanty town cities, with a lot of poor housing and dirt roads.  It was really interesting to see the other side of Peru, with both Lima and Cusco reminiscent of European styles.

We checked into the hotel in Puno, and were given rooms on the top floor.  I say rooms, I wondered if the hotel had messed up and checked us into the Sauna instead… the heating was on and the rooms were upwards of 25c.  Figuring that they must know what they were doing, I left the heating on incase it got super cold in the night time, and we headed out for our orientation walk.

Harold took us to the main square in Puno, just a few 100ms from the hotel, and we headed to a market to try some more local foods.  Here we saw the Tuna fruit it its native form – it comes from a Cactus and is actually quite tasty.   Apparently the red variety we had in the hotel in Cusco is very expensive… so now I know I missed out on that!

Harold also ordered us some sort of ‘strength’ drink which a lady at a stall happily prepared for us, including some syrup with half naked movie stars on the bottle!  The drink also included a raw egg, some mystery powder, carrot, banana, papaya and a whole bunch of other stuff… it didn’t taste too bad, but none of us wanted to finish a whole cup of it!

Strange syrup

Strange syrup

Strength drink

Strength drink

Drink consumed, we went down to the market proper to buy some supplies for tomorrow.  Since we will be visiting the floating islands, where produce is very difficult to grow, they rely on donations from visitors of the basics.  We each set about buying something of a staple – rice, pasta, oil, spices – for a very small amount (I spent S6 on some cooking oil) which would make a huge difference to the community we were going to visit.

We also stopped at an ATM and thankfully I was able to withdraw S400, which means my money worries of the last few days had gone away.  After finishing our orientation trip, we headed back to the hotel and had 90 minutes to freshen up. I spent most of it reading my book!

At 19:00 we met for dinner, and Harold had promised us a spectacular experience… a dinner show in a local style.  It was a pretty fun affair but definitely low key… one spotlight lit up the stage, and the performers just ran off stage and changed costumes between songs.

Dinner show

Dinner show

My dinner at the dinner show

My dinner at the dinner show

Mike and his "captain" cocktail

Mike and his “captain” cocktail

More dinner show

More dinner show

Still more

Still more

Group selfie

Group selfie

After dinner as we walked back, a jovial Harold serenaded us with his impression of famous singers including Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.  My ears still haven’t forgiven him for that.

We played 3 rounds of ‘sheathed’, and then headed to bed in our saunas.  And no, the hotel were not correct… it was crazy hot.  Turning the heating off, opening the windows and praying… I lay in bed awake for a long time before the temperature eventually normalised to boiling point.  Tomorrow we would set off at 7:15am for our trip on Lake Titicaca!

Peru key in the hotel

Peru key in the hotel

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Lake Titicaca

The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca

The floating islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca

Part of the trip to Peru includes two days at Lake Titicaca, which is known as the highest navigable lake in the world and also the largest lake in South America. It’s kind of dazzling to think that this massive lake sits at 3800m above sea level, and even more so when you read into the populations who live on the lake on ‘floating islands’. I believe on the trip we get to visit one of these islands, which are made from totora reeds.

It’s amazing to think how whole societies have grown up in completely different ways to our own.  I can’t really imagine how life is for people like that.

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