On the Peruvian side of the lake we visit Islas Uros, Amantani and Tequile, and on the Bolivian side we spend time in Copacabana and visit Isla del Sol.
13.11.2011 - 19.11.2011
Arriving at Puno we enjoyed seeing my name on a board (well near enough anyway with 'Devora'), and this ensured a swift delivery to our hotel (San Antonio, which we would highly recommend). We left our main bags there, munched a massive breakfast and downed some coffee before making our way to the Port and sorting out our tickets on a colectivo boat over to the Islands Uros, Amantani and Tequile. We were impressed by our first views of the lake and by all the bustle of the port. We bought some gifts for our host families on the islands (fruit, rice, tuna and soap) and boarded our boat.
First stop was the floating islands of Uros. These are little islands built of reeds which form a large comunity. The islands are a bit springy and squidgy, rather odd to walk on, and the reeds are used for everything - the houses, food, boats...But it has a bit of a Disney feel about it with the welcome and touristyness of it all. Still, it was worth a peek.
It's three more hours on the lake over to Amantani. We arrive famished. Our host is Stefani, the wife of our boat's captain. Stefani shows us to our simple but comfy looking room and a few minutes later we are called for lunch - quinoa soup followed by a quechuan style salad, potatoes and 'oka' (like little yams).
Later we walk with Stefani into town and buy her a coke - she seams chuffed by this simple gesture. We then head up to 'Pachamama' for fantastic views over lake Titicaca, back to Mt Saltankay, and our first glimpse of Bolivia and the Cordilleria Real mountain range.
The next morning we're back on the boat and heading over to Isla Tequile. We are dropped on one side of the steep island and we walk up to the little pueblo slowly. It's hot work and so after traversing Tequile we both take a dip in the lake to cool off. Only 30 seconds in the freezing water is enough for me, but Matthew managing a few minutes more, clearly missing his swimming!
We're the only tourists on the boat who are staying on Tequile and a man on the dock sets us up with a beautiful casa in the hill with great views. Julio and Fransesca are our hosts, but Fransesca is out for the day so Julio walks us into town so we can find some lunch. We're shown to the community restaurant (a co-operative) and are served quinoa soup then trout from the lake - Muy Rico!
It's hot and our search for a shady spot to sit and chill in leads us to a small field shaded by eucalyptus trees where the local pigeons swoop and play. Watching the beautiful sunset over the lake we feel like the luckiest people alive.
Julio arrives home with 10 litres of water on his back - it is a scarce commodity here, despite being surrounded by an enormous lake. Fransesca greets us with hugs and kisses and then starts work preparing our dinner while we light a candle in the dining area and enjoy the peace and quiet. Without any light pollution the stars are really bright and clear. Que bonito y tranquillo!
Dinner is quinoa soup (yet again, but thankfully a dish we both enjoy), then a spanish omelette, fried potatoes and rice. The salsa that accompanies this looks tame, but packs a punch! We give Fransesca our small pressy of mandarines, tinned tuna, rice and soap. I'm not sure if they really need this, but Fransesca is grateful and I'm sure it will all get used.
We spend the morning eating pancakes and enjoying the views until it's time to board our boat back to Puno where a welcome hot shower is waiting for us.
The following morning we are on a bus across the Bolivian border to Copacabana. The border crossing is easy and after 30mins of queuing in various spots we're back on the bus.
In Copacabana we get a lovely room in a beautiful guesthouse called "La Capula". There is a communal kitchen and we get chatting to some other guests over a cup of tea, then some Bolivian vino and we all head out to the nearest viewpoint for a spectacular sunset over the lake
New friends made, we all trundle into town for dinner and a few drinks at a bar with great live music. I can't help but have a boogie despite wearing walking boots.
La Capula has hammocks and lounge chairs and so invites us to stay for a lazy day. We also decide to make use of the kitchen and buy lots of fresh veggies for dinner - tomato and avocado starter, veggie stir fry and mangoes for dessert. Giles and Marie join us and provide several different bottles of wine for us to sample. Nick and Melissa join us after dinner and we play cards and drink more wine until well into the early hours.
Armed with hangovers, M and I just make the 8:30am boat to Isla del Sol. The ride is rough and doesn't mix well with last night's wine. But we make it to the north of the island without any messiness.
Walking up the first hill, the sun pounding down on us is tough. We watch a storm in the distance and hope it moves in the opposite direction...but an icy wind arrives and tries its best to sweep us off the exposed ridge we find ourselves on. White tipped waves have formed on the lake and we are grateful that we are not still in the boat. While the 5 hour walk from the north of the island to Yumani isn't as beautiful as we had hoped, it is a great hangover cure!
In the town of Yumani we find a simple room with fantastic lake and mountain views and then stumble on 'Las Velas', a candle lit restaurant that cooks up the best food in town - we have trout cooked in white wine, muy rico!
Back in Copacabana we try La Capula's fondues - the meat fondue comes with a small couldron of boiling oil to cook your beef and chicken in, and the cheese fondue has loads of veggies and bread for dipping and comes with salad and potatoes too - luckily there are six of us to share and devour this yummy feast!