Lake Titicaca is 60% Peruvian, 40% Bolivian and 100% beautiful!
Lake Titicaca is only a 10 hours drive away on a bus that makes strategic stops along the Andean mountains and it’s the quite an amazing scenic bus ride and it’s called Route of the Sun. I took the very comfortable bus by Turismos Mer at 7am and it’s a good way to spend the day to get from Cuzco to Puno. The bus has a toilet, WiFi and a hostess that serves you coca tea in case you’re still not used to the altitude yet and there is a English and Spanish speaking guide to tell you all about the tradition and life of the Incans and also, guides you along the 4 sites that you visit. The bus ride is about US$45 – US$60. I actually got my ticket through Bamba (use discount code stella1818 to get a 10% discount from now till end October at http://www.bambaexperience.com)
The first stop on this ride was San Pedro de Andahuaylillas church, this small church has one of the most amazing and beautiful religious art inside and it’s made of cedar wood and then covered in gold leaves. You would never think a small town like this would have such an amazing church. The reason why the church is so beautiful is because the Spaniards built it over a very holy site for the Incans and they had to make it very beautiful to ensure the people convert to Catholics. So the more beautiful the church, the more holy the site was. By the looks of this, this place is super holy. You can take photos inside but trust me, it’s really a marvelous sight to behold once you step through the doors. The old organs are the oldest in South America and they still work but they get played only once a year, during Xmas so they don’t spoil 😂
The next stop on the ride was Raqchi, where you get to see the ruins of the temple of Wiraqocha which is the temple of the sun. This is a super sacred sight and remember to bring your hat and sunblock coz the sun can be hot and you walk around the site for about an hour. The views are also amazing and my guide, Marisca, was very knowledgeable and funny!
After all the walking, you stop for lunch in the middle of the mountains and it’s buffet style. The quinoa soup was amazing. You also get to take photos with the Lama and the Alpaca up close.
After lunch, the bus stops at the highest point of La Raya Pass where Cuzco meets Puno at 4300m. You can also see all the surrounding alps and this super high mountain is the start of the amazing river that runs and feeds the entire Cuzco and finally to the Amazon rivers. You can also buy crafts from the villagers there and they depend on tourists for a living.
The final stop at Pukara was at a museum which was small but rather interesting. They apparently have the best organic coffee in the whole of Peru in the shop beside it so do try it.
Finally at 5pm, you’ll arrive at Puno where you take a taxi to your hostel or hotel. I stayed at hostel Tayka which was just 3 minutes walk to the cathedral. It’s basic and cheap at usd30 for a single room.
The next day, I woke up at 6 to catch the 7am boat to Uros and Taquile on Lake Titicaca and I loved it. I think this was my favourite part of the Lake Titicaca, being able to spend time with the locals on the floating island and see how they live a simple beautiful life. You can get tickets for this day tour from any of the tourist shops in the main square of Puno. Again, Bamba booked everything for me 😄, but you can book it on your own easily. If you do book on your own, book the speedier boat because that way, you get to spend more time on the island. Travel time is cut by 1 hour there and back and it’s very comfortable with a toilet on board. The tour company was called Jumbo Travel.
I love the people of the floating island in Uros I visited. Stepping on the man made island that’s lasts them only 30 years is like stepping on a waterbed. The one we went on was about 8 years old so it was firm and they also fish from the holes on the floor. Their houses are so simple and basic, it’s only a hut with sleeping area. They’re a really tight community consisting of only 3-6 families and they depend on tourist dollars to pay for the medical emergencies they may have. The ride in the reed boats that they make also cost only 10 soles and it’s pretty fun! You can ask to take photos of them and the island I visited was ok with it but some of the other islands believes that a photo takes away their soul so always ask first. They don’t ask for money unlike on the other islands but I buy their crafts in reciprocity. If I had more suitcase space, I would have bought more things as they’re so pretty!
The next stop was the 3rd largest island on Lake Titicaca called Taquile. You’ll have to hike 1km up to the village and another 2 km down but the hike is amazing because you can see the Bolivian mountains from there. The island is Unesco because of the agriculture terraces that are 3000 years old and they are still used today for growing crops like corn, quinoa and potatoes. There are more than 300 types of potatoes at this high altitude. Isn’t it amazing? It’s the lake that makes it possible. Once you reach the square, you will see knitting men and women as that’s their main livelihood. It’s amazing how the men help the women with chores here on this island, including the very Manly job of knitting! We had a break for lunch at a restaurant that faces the Lake and at 20 soles, it’s the best meal with the most amazing view of this trip.
If you stay more nights, you can also do other day trips to other islands and they look pretty good from photos at the tour shops.
Puno town itself is really small and it amazingly has a lot of pizzerias with wood fired ovens. Follow your nose and you won’t be wrong, they are delicious. I had dinner on my last night near the cathedral square at a restaurant called Mojsa. It’s a bit more expensive but the trout ceviche and kebabs were really good you can also have Chicha here which is the fermented corn drink and in here, it’s purple!
I hope you will make your way to visit Lake Titicaca if you’re doing Machu Picchu because it is a really beautiful place and it’s very special too! The ride there was amazing and once you’re there, you will just fall in love with the beautiful sights in front of you.
Next stop? I leave the beautiful Peru for Bolivia. Singaporeans, you need a visa and it’s gonna cost you US$100! Will tell you more in the next blog.
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