Lake Titicaca: Puno, Uros, Amantani, and Takile

After much deliberation, my Arequipa gang and I decided to go at the Peru-side Lake Titicaca circuit independently (without a tour agency). Good thing, too, as it turned out to be really straightforward and cost efficient.

1. Booked an overnight bus from Arequipa to Puno 2 days in advanced.
Good thing, too, as it was Peru's independence holiday weekend, and all the seats on our bus sold out. We decided not to spring for the top-of-the-line bus company, Cruz del Sur, and went with Julsa instead. It was only S./50 to Puno and S./40 coming back (as opposed to Cruz del Sur's S./75 each way), and the only difference was no meal, no pillow and blanket, and no media console. Oh, and it departed 30 minutes later than its scheduled time.

2. Took a taxi from to the bus terminal ~10pm on a Friday night.
Crammed 1 taxi driver, 5 passengers, and 5 backpacks into (what should have been) a 4-passenger hatchback.

 3. Slept on the bus in 160°-reclining chairs from 11:30pm - 5am.
Only after taking an anti-nausea, drowsiness-inducing pill and altitude sickness pill.

4. Arrived Puno, hung around the bus terminal waiting for civilization to awaken, had breakfast, watched the sunrise, and waited 15 minutes in line to use the toilet.
A slice of toast, choice of pineapple/papaya/mixed freshly squeezed juice, choice of coffee or tea (including coca tea), and an egg.

5. Walked to ~15 min. to the ports.
Paid S./30 (10 USD) for a boat tour that would take us to Uros and Amantani on Day 1 and to Takile and back to Puno on Day 2.

6. Boated to Uros, an island village made entirely (including land, buildings, and boats) of reeds.
You can even eat the reeds.

7. Boated to Amantani, met our guesthouse hostess, Sofia, and her 5-year-old son, Sebastian, wandered about the island, marveled at the immensity of Lake Titicaca, and watched the sunset from Pachamama island.
I'd never experienced such a simple way of living--we had minimal electricity (just one lightbulb in the bedroom, but no other appliances and no electrical outlets) and no on-site shower. We paid only S./30 (10 USD) for our 1-night stay, lunch, dinner, and breakfast.

Potatoes, some kind of root vegetable, some kind of beans, and fried cheese.

At night, we participated in the super-duper touristy activities of trying on Amantani traditional clothing and dancing to traditional music in a little fiesta (of tourists led by their tour guide).

8. Woke up at 6:00am for breakfast and to catch the boat to Takile.
Said tearful goodbyes to Sofia and Sebastian... though admittedly, the tears were mostly on Sebastian's part and due to the fact that he had just tripped and fallen after a morning of play and roughhousing.

By the way, holy crap, Lake Titicaca is massive. Looking out across the lake while on any of the islands felt like looking out across the stillest ocean... except that instead of the ocean disappearing into the expanse, there was a snowy capped mountain range at the horizon (Bolivia, I think).

9. Boated to Takile; hiked up and up and up; watched a fiesta; ate anticucho and trout; hiked down and down and down; group got split up, one member got lost and was late for our boat, we napped at the docks with the beautiful view and managed to hitch a ride back to Puno on a later boat (3 hours later).
Luckily, I didn't roll off the dock into the water while napping.

10. Watched the sunset from the boat; arrived Puno just after dark. Walked to a chicken rotisserie restaurant, where we ran into the captain of our first boat.
Small world/small town.

11. Walked to Plaza de Armas, attempted to decipher the curiously shaped/shaved bushes, and rested at a nearby hostel.
Pooped, showered, napped, and got lost in the internet--all highly necessary after 1 night away from civilization.

12. At 10pm, taxied to the bus terminal; departed at 11pm, arrived Arequipa at ~5am, got home at ~6am.
Snoozed for an hour. Got ready and left for my Spanish lesson at 8am.

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