After our visit to Machu Picchu we took a bus to Puno, Peru to check out Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable body of water in the world. Puno sits at about 12,500 feet above sea level. About 2.5 times as high as Denver. We had heard that Puno has some of the clearest skies and one of the best places to see the Milky Way. However, upon arrival we checked the weather and it was supposed to be cloudy and rain the entire time we were there. No star gazing for us.
We both did some solid sleeping on the long bus ride over. When we arrived at the bus station we quickly found a travel agent. She was super sweet and friendly and had a really great deal (I think it was $15 a person for a 4 hours tour) on a boat ride through Lake Titicaca and a stop at the Island of Uros. She hooked us up with a safe cab ride to our hostel and told us the tour would pick us up in the morning.
Just as the taxi was dropping us off at our Cozy Hostel it immediately started down pouring and hailing. The streets were flooded within seconds and we were confined to the hostel all night. In the morning the van picked us up and off we went to Lake Titicaca. Luckily we had a short break in the rainy weather while we were on the tour.
As we approached the main water way to the Island of the Uros we had to stop to pay our "toll."
Approaching the floating islands was beyond interesting. There were so many islands with house after house on them.
We docked at one of the islands and we were greeted by the president of this island and the other women who lived there. The first thing I noticed was their solar panels. Who would of thought?
The president of this floating island gave a nice presentation of how the islands are built. She showed us the reeds that are used to build the island and how they are secured. She also showed us that the islands are about 12 feel thick as she had a hole dug and was able to measure how far down before she hit water. Families and friends build their island together and expand the size as they grow. If a family wants to go off to start their own island you can just "cut" a section of the existing island off for them to build on to as their own.
After the presentation the women of this island took small groups into their homes to show them how they live. This young lady told us about her husband (who was out fishing) and her three kids (two were with dad and the 18 month was walking around the island). The five of them live in this tiny house. She had a TV and radio that was powered with the solar panels. She was so friendly and willing to answer all our questions about life there.
We were then able to shop the small market they had set up of items they had made. They had bracelets, clay glasses, and blankets. You can tell that this island thrives on tourists and makes it the best experience for them as possible.
We were then taken on a ride on a reed boat. The "captain" of the boat was full of jokes...mostly of the titanic sort. He also showed us the schools and churches on the other islands and answered our questions about daily life.
This was probably one of my favorite unique experiences in Peru. I had done zero research on the islands before we started the tour so experiencing everything in person without knowledge or expectation was awesome!