South America part 5: Peru to Bolivia


We arrived in Puno and got settled in at our Hostel. It was another very basic place. Puno is a small town that doesn't have a lot of tourism. We spent the day wandering a bit in the plaza and visiting the church. There was a festival and a lot of places were closed. That afternoon we took our tour of the floating islands in Lake Titicaca. It was very cold on the lake. We took a boat about 30 minutes out to the islands. They are a series of islands that are grouped together. The tours take turns going to different islands and the people pool their money to support the community. When we arrived we were taken to an area to sit on the reeds and a local spokes person gave us information on their life and the islands. He showed us how they layer the reeds on top of the root blocks to make the island (approx 3 feet thick). We learned that they need refreshing regularly. We learned that traditionally the reeds are edible and combined with fishing this was the main sustenance.  Now the islands have solar power, but no heat. The people we saw didn't have shoes. We had tours inside of the dwellings which were one room huts with a bed for the family.  The children go into Puno for school and people go once a week to market to buy food and supplies. Then we took a short boat ride in a reed boat. It was over all a very interesting experience, but the people are focused on getting tourists to give them money. The children sang and then asked for tips and the people in the village were selling goods to raise more money. I can't imagine how could it would be at night. We were there until sunset and the temperature dropped significantly.
our boat tranportation

trying the reeds

working with the reeds

a view of the housing

traditional boat

a map of the floating islands

our guide explaining island construction

some of the goods for sale

out on the lake

bidding farewell

out on the traditional boat

Greta and I on the island where we got our passports stamped

For dinner, we ended up at La tabla Inca for dinner. It was really good. We were surprised at the quality and how tasty the food was.  The next morning we had breakfast at Tifanyy's as we left for the Bolivian side of lake Titicaca.
Breakfast at Joyería Tifanyy - I'm eating a croissant


Our bus picked us up at 8am and took us to the Bolivian boarder. There we had to disembark and go through customs. We got on a new bus on the Bolivian side of the boarder. The Bolivan hop busses are smaller and don't have restrooms. We had all our paperwork reviewed by the Peru hop/Bolivian hop personnel and then taken into the customs office. The only trouble was the agent did not like our money. Our $20 bills were not new enough so he wouldn't accept them. This was quite frustrating. We were able to pay by credit, but Greta's card wasn't working. This ended up being ok, and it was a switch because I had trouble all through Peru. I wasn't able to take out money with my ATM card. We received our 10 year visas after paying $100 US each and providing paper bank statements, paper proof of exit from Peru (a building 50 feet away - where we had our passports stamped), a paper itinerary for while were were in Bolivia, paper proof  of where we were staying in Bolivia, 2 passport pictures, and proof we had also provided all the same information online.  We crossed the boarder and headed 25 minutes east to Copacabana. 


We had enough time for lunch and to take our money at the ATM before our boat tour to Isla del Sol out in Lake Titicaca. This was a longer trip out to the island, about an hour. It was a sunny day, so we sat outside on the boat, but we still needed our down jackets.  According to Inca legend this small island in the middle of Lake Titicaca was home to the sun god Inti, and was the mythical birthplace of the original founders of the Inca Empire. We arrived to the southern part of the island where the ruins of the Sun temple are. We then had an hour walk to the town of Yumaní. It was a difficult walk for me as we were going up hill for about half of the walk and the island is at 13451 ft / 4100 m. It was a self guided tour and I feel like I missed some things because I didn't know what I was seeing or what to look for. There were some spectacular views from the island of the Bolivian Andes.  

We set off for La Paz that night at 5.  We had to cross part of Lake Titicaca on a boat. The bus went across on a barge. It was pretty interesting to watch them get the bus on the barge. I'm very glad we were not on the bus. At our stop Greta and I had Choripan. For the first time. It was pretty delicious. Corizo (closer to Spanish chorizo than Mexican) and bread. I had a fried egg on mine and hot sauce. 
Our ride into La Paz took about 4 hours. There were a ton of fires for the San Fermin celebration.

Copacabana harbor

the Bolivian flag on our boat
More harbor

Ancient terraces on isla del sol

Where we disembarked
Part of the ruins
More ruins

The view from the ridge we climbed

Andes Mountains

close-up on the mountains

the town of Yumaní 
a map of the island

Welcome to Yumaní


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