Most excursions depart from Puno’s city port. You can get to Puno from Cusco, Arequipa or Lima city and there are several options: by train, by bus or by plane (in this case landing in Juliaca city, which 44 kilometers away). Puno is a médium-sized city, and it is the entrance door to Titicaca Lake. With a population of about 125.000 inhabitants, tourism services are its primary industry. Also, from Puno, you are only 2h30 away from the international border between Peru – Bolivia.
It is interesting to mention that this region belongs to what is called the « Altiplano » (high plateau)- the area where the Andes are the widest. It comprises the southern part of Peru, a big part of Bolivia and the north part of Chile and Argentina. In the past, this area was the homeland of some pre-Columbian cultures, especially the Tiwanaku culture.
Tiwanaku is a powerful pre-Hispanic empire that developed at the shores of Titikaka lake. With a unique language, the Aymara, and a unique God, Almighty Wiracocha, this culture dominated a large area of the southern Andes and beyond. It reached its apogee between 500 and 900 AD. Its monumental remains testify the cultural and political significance of this civilization, which is distinct from any of the other pre-Hispanic empires of the Americas."
Peru and Bolivia share Titikaka lake, and it contains several islands, such as the floating islands of Uros, the Island of the Sun, and the Moon (Bolivian side). There are also the charmful and ancestral islands of Amantani and Taquile in Peru. I highly suggest these last two ones because they are quite far away from modernity so you can get a more genuine experience of how the Andean life on the lake feels like. I mean there is no electricity at night, no social networks, but it is only the mother nature and yourself. It is not difficult to arrange a tour to the islands from Puno for a reasonable price. Several agencies abound downtown, or if you prefer to go on your own, pick a « moto-taxi » (tuk-tuk) and ask the driver to take you to the port.
Even if it is possible to take just a full-day tour to the Islands, try to dedicate one or even two nights to spend into the lake with a local family. You are not going to regret it at all. Your time there will be a truly lifetime experience, and it will include typical tasty food, starry nights, colorful and breathtaking landscapes, and of course, all the kindness of the people of the lake.
We start to sail into the lake in a motorboat, and immediately we are a witness of its size and its capricious weather that make this place an extreme place to live in. The waves and the boat’s swaying, the wind, the cold, the rain, and the rainbow- all of them can be enjoyed in one single morning. Later, it is sunny and cold again, but this time very intense. Sitting on the boat, I cannot avoid thinking that I have never been somewhere closer to heaven like this before. Looking at the clouds, it seems like you could touch them if you raise your hands. It is just incredible.
The ancestral way of living, the social laws, and the vestments of the inhabitants have not been affected by tourism and remained untouched in time.
Here the comforts are minimum. Housing is very simple. There is no hot water, no electricity at some hours of the day and for sure, there is no heating. But the whole experience is definitely worth it. One day without taking a shower does not kill anybody, right? You better smile and enjoy the unforgettable moments and a unique lunchtime with natural products. A very typical menu of the island is a hot Andean soup made of quinoa and for the main course, rice, dry potato, and trout: all in front of the immensity of the lake. In the evening there will not be any light except for the stars in the sky. Try to listen to the locals telling their ancient stories, enjoy the flavors and the sounds, kindly accept the typical clothing that native families will invite you to wear. And mainly, enjoy the little and simple things of living. Disconnect from the world for a while. No matter if it is morning, afternoon, or evening, in Taquile Island, you are going to be touched by spirituality and peace of soul, which is hard to explain.
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