Tuesday, 2 June 2015
From Arequipa we set off for Puno which would be our last destination on Peruvian soil. Puno is a rather unmemorable town however it's location on the shores of Lake Titicaca means that it is a must on the itinerary. Although we had read it was possible to visit the islands on the lake unaccompanied, we were unable to find a public ferry so ended up as part of a guided tour. Our first stop was to a floating island, synonymous with Lake Titicaca. The islands are made purely from the totora, or reeds, that grow in the lake. The foundations of the islands are made with the root filled soil from the bottom of the lake then the reeds which can grow up to four metres are constructed in a crisscross format. All the huts are made with reeds, as are the boats they operate with just a long stick like a gondola. The native people, all in the traditional dress, live off a diet of fresh fish, coots and you guessed it... reeds which also act as a natural remedy to most ailments however it is common for older locals to suffer with rheumatism from the damp conditions living on a lake brings.
Our next stop was to Taquile, a land mass island that bore similarities to those found in the Mediterranean with stone built houses, colourful flowers and cobbled streets. As there are no cars, the village is so peaceful and quiet except from the happy cries of the children playing drifting in the breeze.
Lake Titicaca - pronounced Titihaha - is where Manco Capac, son of the Sun God, and Mama Occlo, daughter of the moon, rose before creating the Incan capital of Cusco in Peru. In the native tongue of Quechua 'titi' means puma and 'kaka' means grey. If you tilt a standard map upside down, the lake appears to be a puma in pursuit of a rabbit - hence the name 'Lake of the Grey Puma.' It is shared by Peru and Bolivia, it being of great importance to the latter as it is a landlocked country and the snow-capped mountains towering on the horizon provide a natural boundary. Often called the highest navigable lake in the world sitting at 3,812m above sea level, it stretches for 190km and is the life source to thousands of people. We were lucky enough to have good weather on our day trip and when the water is glimmering in the reflection of the powerful sun, it is clear to see that Lake Titicaca is much more than just the highest lake in the world.