Life on a floating island

Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
Trip End Dec 18, 2011

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, October 5, 2011

So our longest period of non-stop travel so far took us from Chachapoyas to Puno. Although we had managed to find a route from Colombia back into Peru without retracing our steps we had got to the point where we had to push on south and pass out some of the places we had visited 3 months ago.  Our first bus left Chachapoyas at 11am and deposited us in Lima at 10am the next day, so 23 hours later.  We then had to wait around a bit in the Cruz del Sur office (yes we chose the luxury option for the next 22 hours) for our bus to Cusco.  Not the most exciting place but Kevin was entertained for about 3 hours by a group of Americans playing some apparently really interesting game that involved pushing coins across a table.  That journey was obviously great, Cruzero Suite being the best buses ever, and like a plane journey we whiled away the time watching a number of films.  I was really excited to go back to Cusco for 3 reasons – the chocolate cake, the pizza and getting to see the fountain in the centre of the Plaza which had been covered up for Inti Raymi the whole time we'd been there before.  We therefore booked our ticket onto Puno for the evening and gave ourselves 9 hours in the city.  I love Cusco so not a chore at all!  We ticked off the fountain and the cake quickly but quite disappointingly found out that our favourite pizza place was shut as it was Sunday.  Boo!  Oh well we ate there 3 times last time so I think that’s enough!  We got the cheap bus to Puno so it was a bit of a downgrade from Cruz del Sur, however leaving at 10 and arriving only 7 hours later it didn’t really matter.  So having left at 11am on a Friday we arrived into Puno at 5.30am on Monday.  Not too bad.  Although we were delighted to crawl into an actual bed by 6.30am.  Needless to say we didn’t get up until lunch time!  

Puno is the gateway to Lake Titicaca on the Peru side so obviously our main reason for being there was to visit the islands.  As our next stop is Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the Lake where there are a few islands as well, we decided from Puno just to visit the flotantes (floating islands).  However as we couldn’t do that until the next day as we got up too late we decided to do an afternoon tour to Sillustani, one of the archaeological sites in the area which was used by the pre-Incans and Incans as a burial site.  The site was interesting and in a lovely setting but the best thing about the tour was the tour guide.  These things are so hit and miss but he was knowledgeable and friendly and as the group was small it was great wandering around and chatting with him

The next day we got up early for breakfast and then walked to the port to get on a boat to the floating islands.  We were expecting this to be really touristy but as we hadn’t booked it through a company we were actually the only non-Peruvians on the boat.  They were still tourists though which they proved with gusto when, after the little introduction speech on the first island we went to they bought every tacky tourist item they could find.  Definitely nothing I’ve ever seen European tourists get so excited about.  One lady was wearing 3 bags she had bought!  I don’t think the islands themselves were exactly what we expected though.  They weren’t so far out from the mainland and you can’t tell that there are 50 individual floating islands because of how close they sit together.  Kevin was also disappointed that they were so firm as he thought they would feel more like they were floating.   They seem to exist only now for the tourist industry with centre areas used solely to explain things to tourists and boats that you 'have’ to take across the river to another island, costing you more, when 2 seconds later the boat you came on follows you across the river.  In fairness it was an eco-boat made out of recycled plastic bottles covered in reeds, but still I don’t like feeling forced into hidden costs.  It was an interesting experience but definitely not a highlight. 
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