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.