Our next stop from Arequipa was to Puno, to visit the highest navigable lake in the world – Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca sits at a staggering 3810 metres above sea level and belongs both to Peru and Bolivia. On our bus ride from Arequipa to Puno, it snowed along the way, and we saw many accidents on the road. We were incredibly unprepared for just how cold it was about to become.
We decided to do a day tour to visit the floating islands of Uros which was truly an incredible experience, and none of my words will ever do the place justice despite the cold and rainy start we had to the day. There are approximately 4000 people who live on these floating islands made of totora reeds. They can live on these islands for up to 20 years before they have to make a new one.
When you step onto the island, it feels like a giant sponge which I guess is what 10 metres of totora reeds stacked on top of each other feels like?! They constantly pile on more and more totora reeds to keep their islands afloat. These islands are anchored into place on Lake Titicaca and are mostly confined to bay areas.
Not only do they live on islands made of totora reeds, their housing is made of totora, their boats are made of totora, they make several other household items out of totora, they dry out the totora reeds and burn it for fire and warmth, and they even eat the totora reeds.
To see these people, living their daily lives just as how they have lived for the last 500 years or so is so unique to anything else we have ever seen before. A large part of their lives now involves tourism, and they make souvenirs to sell (out of totora) and use this to enhance their quality of living with items such as solar power for their islands.
We also did a short visit to Taquile Island for some incredibly beautiful panoramic views of Lake Titicaca which just goes forever and ever. After a night in Puno to dry out, it was time to continue south around the lake, and cross the border into Bolivia. Thankfully this was the most painless border crossing (unless you are an American) and we were on our way to Copacabana in no time.
Copacabana is mostly famous for those visiting Isla del Sol (Sun Island) and it is believed that the Sun God, Inti was born on Isla del Sol. Unfortunately, I don’t know much more about this, but we did do a boat ride to Isla del Sol to check it out. It was very similar to Taquile Island with beautiful views of Lake Titicaca but after seeing the floating islands, was understandably less impressive.
The part I loved most about Copacabana was this charming hostal called La Cupula which is probably the number one backpacker or any type of traveller stop in Copacabana. We splurged and booked a luxury suite which had a fireplace, ensuite and lake view. It was 100% without a doubt, worth every penny. They also have a beautiful garden with a family of alpacas that you can feed or just hang out with.
Next stop, La Paz!