Lake Titicaca Floating Islands

Not really knowing what to do, but knowing that we should visit lake Titicaca, our airBNB host arranged a two day tour for us, starting with visits to the floating islands on lake Titicaca, a homestay on Amantaní Island, and a trip to Taquile before coming back.

So after staying one night in Puno, we were picked up early the next morning by bus for our boat trip. After a presentation by the tour guide on the boat explaining how Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, we arrived at the first floating island, where the guide explained how the islands are built by the Uros people.The islands are basically made with plant material including reeds from the area, which are also a major food source for the Uros.

Once an island is built, I think he said it lasts for 20-25 years before they need to rebuild it. Every year, more reeds need to be laid down on the island to replace the ones flattened the year before.The islands were really impressive and we got to get out of the boat and walk around on a few of them.The clothing of the locals on the island was very distinct. We were surprised that in the cold weather (we had hats and jackets) the locals were still bare foot, but they had several layers under their skirts.Still, the people in the region are much more used to both the altitude and the temperatures being outside all the time.On the “big island” with the school, we stopped for some coca tea, made from the same plant which is used to produce cocaine. We had already been experiencing some altitude sickness in Puno and coca is supposed to help against it, which we found to be true.It was impressive that the locals even have a school out on the islands for young children, but if people want further education then they usually need to move into town back on land in Puno.

Some want to go and some want to stay. I mean, they even have TV on the islands, so it’s not like they are living in the dark. I think some of the electricity was acquired through solar panels on the roofs.Kay and I enjoying the sun warming us up a little.After awhile it was time to get back on the boat and head to Amantaní island for our homestay.If you have time around Peru, I definitely recommend visiting the lake. Some tours are day trips, so you could shorten your stay, but I’m so glad that we did our overnight homestay. It was such a special experience. More about that soon!

More from our trip to Peru:

Puno, Peru

Friends recommended Puno and the surrounding lake of Titicaca as some of the best parts of Peru, so in my haste to plan our holidays, I booked three nights in Puno without much of a plan of what to do.

In reality, I should have looked into activities a bit more (usually that’s Kay’s job) because we would have been fine with 1-2 nights in Puno and been able to fit in a trip south to Colca Canyon to see live condors.

Also important, we planned extra time to adjust to the altitude in Cusco before our trek to Machu Picchu without realizing that Puno (our first stop) was actually already 3800m and our homestay took us hiking to 4200m, which we were totally not prepared for! As a result, both Kay and I suffered some altitude sickness in Puno and in the end, we didn’t need the extra days in Cusco because we had already acclimated enough for our trek.Puno was COLD. We were expecting chill in Peru, but it was downright freezing, without heating in our airBNB or homestay. They had a lot of blankets, so sleeping was fine, but brrrrr, we were so cold for most of our time in Puno!We  headed to the lake as soon as we arrived. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and it was very impressive and beautiful!The weather was a little so-so during our whole stay and shortly after we arrived for dinner the first night, it started pouring in the square outside the restaurant.At the advice of our very helpful airBNB host, we left for a one night homestay trip which was incredible and extremely memorable. It rained a lot the night we were gone and when we got back, it poured some more in Puno.

We got caught in a downpour shortly after leaving the house one night and saw first hand how the cities in Peru do not have any canalization and the water just goes everywhere.Puno by night below, on the way back up to the flat.On our last day there wasn’t much to do. We went for a lazy brunch in the morning and soaked in the nice bright plants before hiking up to the condor statue overlooking the city in the afternoon.Any hiking in altitude was quite tough. We thought that living near the Alps and hiking in them would help, but we probably don’t hike much above 1700-2000m normally, so we were struggling. Especially me, with my tough time dealing with uphills anyway. It was a nice way to work up a sweat in that cold weather!The view over the city from the condor was lovely.The condor itself was a bit of an oddity. We didn’t see any actual condors on our trip, but this guy was looking over the city, attracting tourists from far and wide.He was also huge! Look at Kay below for scale.Such a big bird meant we had to do some cheesy photos. 🙂As we watched the sky, we saw storm clouds rolling in from behind the hills again.We decided not to stay too long before the storm came, which it did. 😉 Down in town, we stopped by a local dance competition going on and watched a few routines from young women. The music is quite different from back home!After dinner we headed to the bus station for our overnight bus ride to Cusco, which was pretty horrifying for me, although it didn’t seem to bug Kay that much. The bus was overly heated and since I was sitting next to the heater, I spent the night tossing and turning, dehydrated and sweating, despite taking all my warm layers off including socks and shoes and rolling my pants off. Having not slept at all, I was in a thoroughly sour mood when we arrived in Cusco. It was not a fun way to spend the wedding anniversary with Kay, but he booked the overnight tickets for that day. 😉The first part of our trip was already quite adventurous. I’ll write more about our visiting to the Floating Islands, Amantaní Island, and Taquile Island later.

Planting Bulbs

Earlier this summer I bought these rad flower pots (yes, rad) and then went crazy and lined our whole balcony rail with them. Since then, they’ve been empty, but as fall was approaching, I decided to plant bulbs in all the pots to enjoy next spring.Planting bulbs in the autumn is something my father always does, so I was reminded of him a lot as I dug all the holes for the bulbs.I am still not sure how well bulbs will do in pots instead of ground soil, but I tried to buy bulbs that matched the depth of soil in my pots.The red dot on the packs also says “also for balconies and pots”, so I am hoping they are happy bulbs. Our balcony is pretty sheltered from wind in the courtyard, so they shouldn’t freeze too much.
I couldn’t buy exactly the kind my Dad gets because he plants deeper in the ground, but I did manage to find some varieties that are close to his daffodils.We’ll see what happens!

Have you ever planted flower bulbs? How did they turn out?

Happy New Year!

It’s still January, isn’t it? Yep, it’s been a long time since I have posted, but things got a little crazy around here with all of our end of year travel.

We had an amazing time in Peru. Immediately afterward I flew to Hong Kong for work, and then before I knew it, Kay was moving to France before our visit to Brazil for Christmas and New Year.

More updates soon! 🙂