Puno and the Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca

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Flag of Peru  ,
Monday, December 10, 2012

We skipped through Puno, Peru on our way to Arequipa from the Bolivian border at Copacabana completely forgetting about going to see the floating islands. As a result, we decided to make a quick stop here on our way from Arequipa to Cusco. We got off the bus from Arequipa at around 2.30pm and from the bus station we booked a short tour to the islands. We also booked an overnight bus to Cusco. After making our arrangements, we got a short mini bus from the main bus terminal to the pier. Along with the other tourists, we got a 30 minute boat to the islands. We were told all about the history of the islands by our very interesting and funny guide, a Peruvian guy called Walter. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and is on the border between Peru and Bolivia. On this lake, the floating islands reside. The lake is very important for the people of Puno. They fish the waters extensively as fish is the only food the majority of the islanders eat. The islands foundations are made up of blocks of earth and clay (which float). These are spread out evenly under the base of the island. The base is made up of grass reeds (much like those used in Ireland to make Saint Brigid crosses). Hundreds of layers are cris-crossed on top of each other to form the semi solid base. The island is anchored in place with ropes tied to large rocks which reach the lake bed. The houses on the islands are made of straw, rope and some clay. These houses are not anchored down so they can be picked up and moved to other parts of the island if needs be. Although it lashed rained for the majority of our tour, we thoroughly enjoyed. Also, we met Claudina and Dean (a lovely couple from Australia and England) who were extremely nice. It was very strange as we had actually met this couple back in Bariloche, Argentina. Back then, Eoin had asked them about a bus time but that was it- no further communication. After getting chatting in the bus station in Puno, Claudina and Dean joined us on the island tour, on the bus to Cusco and are still travelling with us at present.
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