Lake Titicaca sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia at 3,812 meters above sea level, making it one of the highest navigable lakes in the world. I had heard it needed to be seen from both sides, so we started from the Peruvian side in a town called Puno.
Puno is about a 6 hour bus ride from Arequipa. At the hostel in Arequipa we met an Irish couple, an American guy, and a kiwi guy all heading in the same direction, so we went together. They were all awesome except for the kiwi guy but I’ll tell you about him later.
Puno isn’t the most attractive town, and it was the first time I’ve seen so much poverty up close in Peru. But it is on Lake Titicaca, therefore its also on the gringo trail.
Our first night in Puno we all walked through town together and down to the lake. I was surprised to find the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca far from impressive, it was dirty with a funky smell. The hostel however, was lovely. The Point hostel in Puno is all comfy and new and it has the one magic ingredient I have come to love in a hostel… free Wi-Fi.
The following day my travel buddy and I and the kiwi guy jumped on a tour of the floating reed islands. The others did a 2 day trip staying over night, so it was good byes for now.
So, what are the floating reed islands? As far as I discovered, in the time of the Incas another tribe built floating islands from the reeds of Lake Titicaca to escape the Incas, and there are still people living on these islands today. Which is pretty much what people go to see in Puno.
So with our one full day in Puno we went out on a tour of the reed islands. The locals showed us how the islands are made which was pretty impressive, and all in all it was a good day. The only down side was that it’s massively touristy. Like the most tourist cheese I’ve ever experienced. The day went a little something like this: the boat arrived and all the locals were standing on the edge waving and welcoming us in. Then we all sat down and listened to a talk about the islands, before small children ran up and dragged us into their houses and dressed people up in traditional clothes (I managed to break free). Then they showed us their things to buy and we boarded a local boat over to another island. The boat ride was pretty interesting as it was also made our of reeds. However, then a small child also boarded the boat and began singing nursery rhymes in three different languages before walking down the boat with a hand out. Yes, there was more tourist cheese than a cheese factory. But I suppose we only have ourselves to blame for that, at some point the locals figured out that this is what the tourists wanted and ‘Tadaaa’ that’s what they’ve made. Overall it was a pretty good day.
So that was Puno, my last stop in Peru. The next morning we left for the small town of Copacabana, the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca.