Travelling Peru – Puno and the Titicaca Lake

After two nights in the Colca Valley we headed off to Puno with midday and arrived there in the evening. The touristic buses are really comfortable and driving for six to ten hours really isn’t that much of a problem. Especially because the buses stop regurlaly at different sights on the way.

In Puno, we stayed in the Royal Inn which is directly around the corner of the main square. Arriving late that evening we stayed in the hotel for dinner and went to bed quite early. The next day we met our guide again early in the morning – this became a habit on our trip –  and set off to the Titicaca Lake.

Titicaca LakeWe boarded one of the touristic boats and started our journey to the floating islands of Uros. The islands are made from sea weed growing in the lake. People layer it up until it is fat enough to carry them and their houses.

I have to admit that I found it very interesting to see how people lived on those islands. It was truly fascinating. However, I got the feeling that people only still live on those islands because so many tourists come there every single day craving to see the “original living”. The younger generations are leaving the islands to study and work in the cities if they can afford to do so.

floating islandssea weed boatAfter we had explored the islands by foot and with hand made boats of the locals, we headed towards Taquile another island on the Titicaca Lake.

Taquile is famous for its nitting men. Following their customs men learn to nit when they are little and keep nitting until they are adults. The nitted hats and clothes of the people on this island are very traditional and show for example if people are married or not. A white and red hat for example means unmarried while a red hat means married.

Taquile island - Titicaca LakeWalking up the steep hills of the island we felt the altitude. With nearly 4000m above sea level the Titicaca Lake belongs to one of the highest lakes in the world. Not only the location but also the size of the lake is impressive. From the center of the island one has a fantastic view over the lake. If the sky is clear you can even spot the mountains of Bolivia.

On the Taquile island we had one of our best lunch of the whole trip. Our guide took us to a local bar where we ate delicious grilled fish with potatoes and rise – so yummy.

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After lunch we walked back down to our boat and drove to Puno. We took the chance of a free evening and explored the inner town. Right next to the cathedral is a former kind of monestary complex where you can find nice shops and a great café.

Puno, PeruAfter just one day, we left Puno the other morning continuing our trip towards Cusco.

 

Travelling Peru – Colca Valley and the Condor

We stayed two nights in the Colca Valley. The Kilawasi Lodge is located in Yanque a little village within the Colca Valley. Like the other villages and cities, Yanque has a central square with a colonial church. But more than this, the Kilawasi Lodge is a perfect spot for exploring the surroundings either by hiking or with local tours to the colca canyon.

colonial church in Yanque - Perucolca valley - PeruDue to the altitude and all the new impressions each day, both of us were quite tired.So, I very much enjoyed the calmness and relaxing atmosphere in the valley.

After our drive from Arequipa to the Colca Valley we checked into our hotel and dropped into bed very early. The next morning we had to get up at around half past five so we were ready for our bus to the edge of the canyon where we watched the condor fly.

peruvian condorperuvian condorperuvian condorI loved those birds. They look so majestic with their wings wide spread gliding through the air. Although it is a very touristic spot and can get crowded easily, it didn’t take away the fascination of watching those beautiful animals.

We were lucky with our guide who suggested to get off the bus before the main viewing spots. Instead of driving there we walked along the edge of the canyon to the viewing platforms. In doing so, we could spot not only the condor but typical flowers and other birds of the Andes.

In the afternoon our hotel offered a guided hike to an old inca ruin nearby. Although I was quite tired and suffered from a headache, I went along.

colca valleyI just couldn’t get enough of the views. Imagine people working on those terraces years and years back in time. It left me with deep respect for all those civilisations who were able to live high up in the mountains.

The hike took around three hours and led us to an very old, probably incan or pre-incan ruin called Uyu Uyu. On the hike, I definitely felt the altitude having to stop much more often to catch may breath.

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incan ruin - colca valleyThis old ruin was my first encounter with the inca culture on our trip and I was already deeply fascinated. It’s simply unbelievable for me to see such buildings while knowing how long back in time they existed.

 

Travelling Peru – From Arequipa to the Colca Canyon

From Lima we took the plane to Arequipa which is normally a one hour trip. Well… in our case it took us five hours because the flight was delayed for four very long hours. I did get to know the airport in Lima very well.

So unfortunately we arrived very late in Arequipa and missed our city tour which was planned for the afternoon. Our mood wasn’t that good as you can imagine arriving so  late in a city we didn’t know. However our hotel and later our dinner compensated a bit of our disappointement. We stayed at La Hosteria which was a very nice hotel, with which I fell in love at first sight.

Having stored away our luggage we headed into town for dinner. Do go  to Zig Zag at least once. It might not be the cheapest option but is a real treat. The city really impressed me and I am definitely going back there exploring more than just the inner town by night.

From Arequipa we headed off the next morning to the Colca Valley. We took a small bus tour with a lovely guide who made the six hours drive pass very quickly. On top of his explanations the breathtaking landscape made this day to one of my favourites.viqunas on the high plateau of the andes

viqunas on the andean plateauhigh plateau of the andesWe spotted viqunas, wild lamas, and alpacas grazing on the andean plateau. Later on this trip we passed the highest point of our journey at 4830m above sea level. I have to admit, that I was a bit worried before our journey about how well I would handle the altidute. Listening to our guides, drinking loads of water, breathing deeply and just relaxing, I felt  well all the time. The first four days on high levels I had constant headaches though which then suddenly disappeared.

Another thing which fights altitude sickness, is drinking a lot of coca tea or even better a tea made out of three different andean herbes.

andean teahighest pointWhen we passed the highest point we went down into the Colca Valley where we had a great Peruvian lunch.

chivay - Colca valleyNext to Chivay a town at the beginning of the valley, we had lunch in a very touristic hotel. However, this meal was really nice because our guide taught us to make our own peruvian starter out of very solid potatoe mash and some tuna, vegetables and mayonnaise.

Apparently the local women made this dish during the war to keep up the strenght of their men.

food-colcaAfter lunch we drove further into the valley and ended our trip at some natural, hot springs. Here we finally could relax and just enjoy being on a completely new continent and in an amazing country.

Colca Valley

Travelling Peru – Lima

Finally I managed to sort through our photos of our trip to Peru in the middle of June. We were invited to a friend’s wedding in Lima and took the opportunity to explore a bit more of the country. We booked a round trip with a travel agency specialised on individual nature-focused trips here in Stuttgart. I definitely can recommend reiseAgentur brandner. However, I think next time I would travel even more independently and do the organising by myself and very spontaneous.

I realised that I do like getting a lot of information about a sight but on the other hand am not as good with having a tour guide all the time. But I guess this is a personal decision and all our guides where simply great, my concentration span just couldn’t keep up :). Another issue why I booked a complete tour was my concerns of not being able to speak spanish – in the end, that wasn’t that much a problem. Ordering food in Spanish is much fun :).

We took the plane from Stuttgart to Paris to Lima arriving late on a thursday night in Peru. My friend organised the transfer to our hostel where we stayed three nights. The hostel Che Lagarto was located in the Miraflores district which is very safe for tourists.

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The next day we met my friend, her husband and his family to explore the city. The main square is surrounded by colonial buildings ranging from churches to administrative buildings. I enjoyed the atmosphere on this square very much. I liked how it is a central meeting point for people where there are also festivals and other cultural events. It really is the center of town.

main aquare in lima

From the main square we walked towards the chinese quarter for lunch pasing by the central market. The Chinese quarter is full with restaurants serving delicious chinese food. We ordered different plates for the table and tried ourselves through all of them. And of course starting off our trip we tried Inca Cola for the first time. It’s a special Peruvian lemonade whih tasted like liquid bubble if you ask me.

pavement chinese quarter lima

-this street is made of so many weddings, births and other happy memories-

After lunch we headed to the convent of the fransiscan order and its beautiful church.

Chruch of the Fransiscan order in LimaWe took the tour through the convent where I wasn’t allowed to take photos. So unfortunately I can’t show you the old library with its very impressive collection of old European and South American books. Also the church is not only beautiful from the outside but also from the inside. A more creepy part of the tour is the visit of the catacombs below the church which have served as a public cementary from early on.

Fransiscan order LimaWe finished our tour in a nearby local bar. The interior looked very old and I was told that it was one of the oldest bars within Lima. Being stuck in the traffic back to Miraflores we drove at least one hour and returned very tired to our hotels to get some rest before the wedding the next day.