This is a long overdue entry, but in my apparent efforts to bolster tourism to and around Peru (or at least to provide incentive for more visitors to us), I thought posting it now was definitely better than never.
Shortly after our adventures on the chocolate ribbon that is the Amazon, we took a weekend jaunt to the city of Puno on the banks of Lake Titicaca. As my readers should expect by now, the following are some facts about the lake for those interested. At more than 12,500 ft elevation, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. And, if you are measuring by volume, it is also the largest lake in South America (though, as you might have learned from previous posts, Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is traditionally considered the largest lake on the continent). It is located on the borders of Peru and Bolivia and at its deepest point is more than 930 feet deep.
After flying into Puno (the airport is actually in a town called Juliaca) several things are immediately evident. 1) 12,500 ft above sea-level is VERY, VERY, VERY high and the change in altitude is more than noticeable. You can take altitude sickness pills to counteract the effects, but the shortness of breath, sleeplessness and dull headache usually persist in spite of the medication. 2) Puno is ugly and apart from its proximity to the lake, forgettable. 3) Lake Titicaca is an indescribably beautiful shade of blue and overwhelmingly vast.
Various islands dot the surface of the lake including Taquile, which we visited. Roughly 2000 people live and work on the island. We reached it by speedboat and then climbed, really slowly, to the top of the island and the main square where the residents congregate each day awaiting the arrival of tourists and supplies.
The most interesting part of our visit was the Uros islands, a series of literally floating islands constructed of reeds. The reeds are tamped down to form a solid base that must be replenished every 3 weeks. These same reeds are also used in the construction of all houses, communal structures and boats. These islands and the people who continue to live on them were fascinating. There are over 20 unique islands in the group and because they are floating can be moved throughout the lake if a change of location is desired or required.
Finally, we crossed the border into the town of Copacabana in Bolivia which feels a lot like Tijuana. While in Copacabana we did some shopping, sampled the local "popcorn" and visited a few historical sites.