Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
300Trip End Nov 04, 2008
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Where I stayed
Puno is very prepared for tourism, and the restaurants and its prices do reflect it. However the decoration is great and most of the food is Peruvian if you look for it. We tried this restaurant, and given we made it to Peru we decided to compare the Chilean Pisco which we had tried many times, and the Peruvian Pisco. If all the Pisco Sour in Peru is as good as in this place...there is no challenge - Peruvian Pisco wins. It was just delicious!
While we were waiting for our Alpaca (cousin of the Lllama) with pepper plate, Veronika suddenly gave a shriek, and while Marcos thought she was exagerrating with her Pisco Sour tasting, the excitement was due to a small mouse running across the restaurant and going towards the pizza over area
Deciding to play it European, we called the friendly waiter and warned him that there was an unexpected guest in the restaurant lounge. He decided to play it Peruvian, smiled and said "he is not ours! He comes from the neighbourīs house"...you canīt beat that logic!
The dinner was great, although slighlty expensive at 80 Soles (16 euros) for 2 piscos, 1 beer and 1 water 2 alpaca main courses and 2 excellent desserts...cheap for Europe, but high in comparison with Bolivia!
Anyway back to the information about our adventures in the Lake Titikaka.
Just so you appreciate how much listening we are doing during our trip (and heavy research in local libraries...) some data on the highest "navigable" lake in the World.
- Divided between Bolivia (44 percent) and Peru (56 percent)
- 176 kms from North to Sout
- 63 kms East to West
- 280 m depth
- 3,800 metres above sea level
- 47 floating Islands (artificially built)
- approx 2,000 Uro people living on the floating islands or around lake
- 100 million tourists at any given time
Apart from the beauty of the lake, and its height above sea, the main attraction is the ancient culture and people of the Uro
The interesting part is that they actually build their own islands to stay away from the mainland (in the past, and to attract tourists in the present...). The lake is full of floating islands which the Uros build on reeds (about 3 meters of roots and reeds) and then tie down.
The visit is very interesting and unique and the guide likes to explain how they surive there and how little they have so donations are welcome.
Until there the whole trip is great, from then onwards its just a chain of "give money to these poor people with nothing...". Its all, of course, a load of Incan bollocks and if one opens ones eyes soon sees it might have been like that some time ago but now its all a bit of a Disney show. Still worth the visit though to the Uros part.
The second part of the trip, was relaxing and enjoyable, but was even worse on the Disney approach to it. "Its all ancient and they havent changed for thousands of years"...what a load of Titi and Kaka.
The boat ride to Taquile took 2 hours, which is great for relaxing and walking around the boat or reading (given it travels at close to no-light speed). When you arrive you walk up to the Plaza de Armas for 20 minutes (quite a struggle for most tourists due to height, with the older aged groups having the guide carry an oxygen bottle)
All along the way there are kids dressed up in typical clothes of the island...selling, selling, asking for money, asking for money and posing for pictures (as long as you pay). Its a circus!. The scenery is well worth the visit, but somehow every time you see a tourist pay 50 cents of a Euro to a 4 year kid to stand next to them and take a picture, the whole atmosphere crumbles down.
The "we are really poor" approach starts before you even get on board the tourist boat at Puno. There are old ladies selling pencils and pens to tourists and saying "for children of Uros". It appears that after selling pencils to tourist for a decade the Uros might start building islands with them as they donīt know what to do with the damned things.
Did they really ask the Incas for money when they arrived back a few thousand years, and the Spaniards? What a load of Piscorruni.
Apart from that of course is the 25 to 1 ratio of tourists to local people.
So our recommendation...skip the Taquile part and just do the Uros. And if you do the tour make them include lunch (which was great). We got it included all for 50 soles each (11 euros), although one can probably get it for 35-40.