Welcome To The Floating Islands of Uros
The city of Puno doesn’t look like much at first glance. My immediate reaction was to get out of there since it was dirty and filled with mostly fast food eateries, but it grew on us the longer we stayed. The city was buzzing with lots of teenagers practicing dance routines and working on costumes for an upcoming parade. When we came to see the parade, we were offered front seats and free beer. Overall, we found the locals we encountered in Puno to be very nice and chatty with us.
The City of Puno
Anyone Want Peanuts Or A Baby?
Yearly Parade Held By University Students
Early morning, we went down to the docks where the boats leave for Lake Titicaca. We were approached by many so-called “captains” offering us their best deal. Since we had asked a few locals before what we should be paying, we knew we could do better. Later we approached a tour guide and negotiated on a price we were willing to pay. We then jumped on small boat for a 2-day tour.
Our first stop was the floating islands of Uros. It really felt like we arrived in Disneyland but it was still very cool to see. All the locals were dressed up in traditional clothing and greeted us upon our arrival. Underneath us and what was keeping us afloat were layers and layers of totora reeds. While this used to be the only way of life for the Uros tribe, it serves more as a popular tourist attraction today.
Locals Waiting For Tourists
View Of Uros
Neat Seating Area
Further into Lake Titicaca, we made our final stop for the evening on the island of Amantani. All tourists who want to stay overnight on the island have to participate in the homestay program. The program consists in pairing tourists with a participating family. This allows each family on the island to receive some money. Esther, a 17-year old girl, came to pick us up and we followed her up the hill, through multiple farmlands, up and down piles of rocks, and finally to her home where she lived with her parents. Once we unloaded our bags in our bedroom, we made our way downstairs to their kitchen for lunch. Everyone was there with Julia, the mother, cooking, Esther helping her mother, and Augustin, the father, sitting and talking to us at the table. It felt very strange to be eating only with Augustin at the table so we asked the other two to join us but they politely declined. We had potato soup and a potato and cheese dish for lunch. They live self-sufficient lives where they eat mostly what they grow and raise. They make seldom visits to Puno for things like flour, rice, and sugar. While our Spanish was limited, we were able to have basic conversations with them during meal times.
MuiMui Enjoying The Views
Views From Our Homestay
Our Host Family
Locals Eat Mostly What They Can Grow & Raise
Our Host Mother, Julia
After lunch, we met up with the rest of our group for a hike to the top of the island. It was a good uphill walk where, in case you needed something like candy bars or a warm hat, there was always a local standing by for your business. When we reached the top, we got a great view of the island and a dramatic sunset.
Reminds Me Of My Dog, Jojo
Views From The Top
Me & Frenchie
Locals Standing By To Sell You Anything
Later in the evening after dinner, we met again with our group in a town hall for some dancing. Our hosts convinced us to dress in their local attire and when we arrived at the hall, it seemed like everyone else was too. After a few minutes of dancing, I was sweating from all the layers. It was a very fun night and even though it was arranged just for us, we appreciated the warm welcome. As we walked home, we were in arms reach of the star lit sky. I have experienced many wonderful nights before, but this was definitely mesmerizing as there were absolutely no lights on the island or for next thousands of miles except for the millions of stars above us.
Dressed Up To Party
Boris & Esther
MuiMui In Layers
Dancing Around The Fire
After a good night sleep, we had breakfast with our hosts and said our goodbyes. Our first stop of the day was the island of Taquile, which is known for artisanry. While it was nice to walk around, there was nothing extraordinary about the place.
Local Girl Hanging On Direction Post
Back in Puno, we met up with Claire, who we befriended while on our tour. We were joined by a few others and all headed for dinner. I was very excited as we were going to try Cuy (guinea pig) for the first time. It was very delicious; I liked the crispiness and saltiness of the dish. We tried a few other dishes and as always, Alpaca was a pleaser.
Yummy Cuy Guinea Pig
MuiMui Eating Cuy ... I like It
After dinner, we went to a bar for what was suppose to be one round, turned into three rounds, of Pisco Sour. In short, we had a great night and a great time because of the people we met in Puno. It’s truly the people that make a place. We are going to miss our host family and hope to come back again.
We Love Pisco Sour!!
|What We Paid:
|– Flores Bus From Arequipa To Puno
|– Private Double Room At Vargas Inn:
private bathroom, basic clean rooms [no wifi]
|– Private Double Room At El Inti Hostal:
private bathroom, wifi, great family
[recommend but not the cleanest rooms around]
|– Lunch In Puno
|-Dinner In Puno
|– Dinner Splurge In Puno
|– Glass Of Pisco Sour In Puno
|– Lake Titicaca 2-day Tour
[does not include lunch on the last day]
Flickr Photoset | Slideshow