We spent the last two days on Lake Titicaca – touring some of the islands and staying with a local family. The lake is the highest navigable lake in the world (I’m not sure what that really means) and it is huge. It forms part of the border with Bolivia and contains numerous islands populated by communities that maintain separate lives from those on the mainland. The problem for us was that our Lonely Planet warned us that some tour operators exploit the islanders, but as we have a flight booked out of Lima in a week’s time we didn’t really have time to navigate the islands independently as they suggest.
In the end we decided to book a tour and try to counteract any negative effects by buying things direct from the islanders when possible and taking small gifts for our hosts. Nevertheless I found it a stressful time, as well as physically strenuous trekking around the islands at this altitude.
We both arrived back in Puno exhausted: me from stress and sunburn (apparently the sun reflecting off the high altitude water catches travellers out all the time) and Mr K from yet another round of traveller’s tummy.
We had planned to venture to Arequipa this afternoon but it remains to be seen if we will make it. On the positive side, if we don’t, food and accommodation here in Puno are cheap and we have seen very little of the town itself so we’ll be able to amuse ourselves if necessary. I plan to visit the textiles co-op behind the plaza to see if there are any knitted goods I can’t resist and we may go back to the ingeniously named “Machu Pizza” for vegetarian pizza and vino calliente.
Later: we made it to Arequipa – despite an unexplained delay of nearly 2 hours shortly in to our bus journey – and have checked into a charmingly decrepit hotel. Fingers crossed they have hot water.