Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

2 - 4 May Puno: 3 - 4 May Islas Amantani and Taquile

As I wrote, the main reason for stopping in Puno was to see the Lake Titikaka and to make a tour to the three islands: The floating islands of Uros, Amantini and Taquile. The standard tour is to visit all three islands in two days while you spend the night on Amantini. As soon as I arrived in Puno I was looking for a good offer and finally booked the tour through Edgar Adventuras.
I got picked up at the hostel, we were brought to the lake and with a small ferry we went to our first stop, the floating islands of Uros. Surrounded by the green-blue water of the Lake Titikaka (the water is always freezing cold at 13C), the floating islands are entierely made out of reed. There are a total of 27 islands, all floating but also tied together within. So, no connection to the land. Said so, they hardly move around and stay at one place all over the year.
When I said that the islands are entirely made out of reed, I mean so: the islands itself, the houses, even the guinea pigs have their own little reed island and a reed house.
We were greeted by the locals with hand shakes and songs, our guide told us how they maintain the islands, of course, we had the chance of buying souvenirs, made a small trip with a reed boat and when we left, the locals were singing again.
On the downside, there is the rumour that no local actually live on the island. They only spend the day there while the tourist are visiting and returning to the main land as soon as they are gone. I actually believe it. Ah, and on every island, there is a little watchtower. I think the purpose is to see the tourists boats coming.
An other two hours boat ride later, we arrived at Isla Amantani. This island is a big larger with various villages. Our village is home to 56 families and perhaps the highlight of the tour is that you stay over night at one of the families. For the locals, it is for sure one source of income, but for the tourists a welcome difference to hotels. As soon as we had arrived, some locals were waiting and our guide devided the group usually in groups of 3 or 4, depending how many beds the families have. The houses on the island are solid houses and most of them have one or two bedrooms for tourists. I learned that the travel agencies have an agreement with the island and every family on the island can receive guests; since everybody wants to host tourists, usually they get tourists only once a week.

Our host was cooking for us - only vegeterian food. They do eat meat but only on very special occasions - and we found out that all tourists had the same food. Anyway, it was very interesting to see how simply the live, cooking has do be done on the open fire, but it was really yummy! They know how to use an open fire for cooking.
In the evening, we walked up the hill for the sunset and as soon as the sun set, we could already get a feeling how cold the night might get. Later in the evening, all tourists were dressed in local habit and we met at the comunity house where two band were playing and we all (locals and tourists!) had to dance. What a fun!
The night was cold, but I got two blankets that felt heavy like one ton, but I slept really good - not only because there is NO noise! I woke up, as most of the time during my trip, at sunrise. How beautiful to see the sun rising right into my bedroom, right into my face.
We had to leave pretty early in the morning to the third island, Taquile, but just before we left, there was a little surprise in our garden: One of the sheep had a baby! When I saw it, it was perhaps half an hour old or so. How cute.
Isla Taquile is know for its knitting, which is traditional done by the men on the island. We were walking around (of course, there was an entrance fee to be paid on the island), walked through the village, had one more time to buy souvenirs, before we finally took our boat for the 3+ hour trip back to Puno.
One last word about our guide for that tour. She was in her mid 50 and my guess was that she was a former teacher at a catholic church. She was treating us like her school kids ("com´en this way, kids" or "hurry up, babies") and she was preaching her conservative opinion ("don´t get married if you are not absolutely sure"). Well, I appreciate her opinion, but preaching this to a group of people in the 20s, it was not really appropriate. But the strangest thing was that, in the end, she asked for a tip but for the boat capitan. She refused to accept tips - for Peru, this is indeed very, very strange.
But we all had our fun: the group containted only younger people and I spent most of the time with three French girls - again a chance to improve my French!

Waiting near the blue Lake Titikaka for our ferry.

Waiting near the blue Lake Titikaka for our ferry.

"Locals" from Uros awaiting their tourists.

"Locals" from Uros awaiting their tourists.

One of the floating islands of Uros.

One of the floating islands of Uros.

Locals on Amantini waiting their over night guests. And whenever woman are waiting there (or even walking), they are spinning wool.

Locals on Amantini waiting their over night guests. And whenever woman are waiting there (or even walking), they are spinning wool.

Group photo at the end of the dancing evening. I am on the top left

Group photo at the end of the dancing evening. I am on the top left

A ceran cooking field is not necessary here. And also the cat loves the open fire, she was always so close to the fire that we were scared that something happens.

A ceran cooking field is not necessary here. And also the cat loves the open fire, she was always so close to the fire that we were scared that something happens.

During the boat ride to Isla Tauqile. For the first time in days, there were clouds up there!

During the boat ride to Isla Tauqile. For the first time in days, there were clouds up there!

Last photo with the French girls on Taquile. Look at the sculputures at the top of the gate!

Last photo with the French girls on Taquile. Look at the sculputures at the top of the gate!

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Peru 3 - 4 May Islas Amantani and Taquile
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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