Goodbye Bolivia, Hello Peru
07.06.2007 - 10.06.2007 20 °C
Lake Titicaca is one of the world's highest navigable lakes and is over 9000 sq meters in size, on the border of Bolivia and Peru. This was my last stop in beautiful Bolivia and where I would cross over into Peru.
Jumping off point on the Bolivian side, is the lovely town of Copacabana. Although it's a little touristy, it still manages to keep its small town charm. From here I took a day trip to the Isle Del Sol. This island is the birthplace of the sun in Inca mythology. The island has some little villages and inca ruins that can be visited by taking a boat from Copa and then doing a 3 hour walk from one end of the island to the other. The island is beautiful, with white sandy beached coves and blue waters, reminiscent of somewhere hot and tropical, rather than a lake some 3820m high!
The next day, I was off to Puno, Peru. The border crossing was very uneventful and Puno turned out to be no where near as nice as Copacabana. The main reason to stop on this side of the lake is to visit the famous Islas Flotants (floating islands) of the Uros People. Puno has built an entire industry out of visiting these islands as well as a couple of the other ones. I did a one day tour to the floating islands and another island, Taquile, famous for its Quecha-speaking islanders with a rich traditon of weaving. I was disappointed to discover the lake covered in a thick layer of green algae that according to our guide is a consequence of pollution. There was none of this on the Bolivian side. The algae cleared after a while, as we headed to the floating islands. These islands have that feeling of being there totally for tourism. The islanders are dressed in brightly coloured costumes, which seemed rather fake after the guide told us that tradionally the islanders used to be almost totally naked but started dressing this way after they became a tourist attraction! Still, it was an interesting and unique way of life! The islands are made out of the buoyeant reeds that grow in the lake, placed horizontal and then vertically on top of each other till they about two metres deep. After a quick boat ride on one of the reed boats, we headed of to the Isle Taquile. This island is also very touristy, but felt a little less set up than the Islas Flotantes. Here, they still dress in traditional costume (although I did wonder if they get back into adidas tracksuits after the day trippers depart!! ) and the men wear tightly woven hats that they take great pride in knitting themselves. Depending on which hat they wear and which way they wear it, you can tell if a man is single, married, looking or not looking! Similarily with the womens shawls. We had a lovely lunch here overlooking the lake and it felt more like I was somewhere in the Mediterrenean than Peru!
Puno was my first introduction to Peru and I have to say, after Bolivia, it was a bit of a shock. I was met by countless "agents" at the bus stop wanting to take me to hotels and book me a tour. I found out on the day of the tour that I payed much more than others! I had to get used to being ripped off again! In Bolivia, the tourism industry is such that sometimes you feel like they couldn't care less if you were there or not - kinda resfreshing! You barely feel like you are ever being ripped off and if you are, it's such a small amount that you really don't care. Boliva is by far my favourite country that I have travelled through in South America. I spent 8 amazing weeks there, through such varied and beautiful country, encountering many different experiences, not to mention the quirky Bolivians themselves, and loved every minute of it!
View from my hotel in Copa, which was about all of $2!!
Isle Del Sol
Kids on Taquile Island