16/04/2012 - 19/04/2012 16 °C
The bus journey from Cusco to Puno was what can only be described as painful. A 7.30am to 5pm bus journey with 5 ‘tourist stops’ along the way. We have been on our fair share of tour buses on this trip and have developed an extreme dislike for them...from being herded on and off buses like cattle to waiting for other tourists that can’t seem to tell the time (there is a surprising volume of these people) to being forced to listen to the most boring explanations of anything and everything. We vow that this will be our last tour.
Arriving into Puno, a town not winning any prizes for its beauty, we set out to plan our independent trip to the islands of Lake Titicaca. There is apparently a local ferry that can take you to the nearby islands (according to the LP) but if it does exist they must have set up a scheme to keep it a secret from tourists so we were forced to go ahead and book yet another tour!
The star attraction of the area are the floating islands of the Uros people, a series of 50 islands all built from tortura reeds. The islands were built by these people hundreds of years ago in a bid to escape the aggressive Inca people at the time. They are now, of course, very commercialised and appear to serve more as tourist stops, with small markets on almost every island, than actual homes. Despite this they are an impressive sight and so unlike anything else we have seen that we still enjoyed the morning learning how they are built, sailing on a reed boat and watching the women in bright traditional dress sewing, knitting and making the other craft items for sale.
The second island we stopped at, the island of Taquile, appears to just be a lunch stop. There is nothing worth seeing on the island itself and given the 5 hour round trip to get there it is most definitely not worth it!
The time we had in Puno itself was spent just trying to catch our breath most of the time. The 500m increase in altitude from Cusco took a little getting used to and we found we were out of breath after just a few steps of walking!! We did also find an amusement arcade to pass some of the time and I enjoyed beating Lach at the simulation bowling!
Time to come back down a couple of hundred metres and venture into our final new country – Bolivia for 3 nights!