After a fantastic weekend with family in Lima, we took a Monday morning flight to Juliaca and then took an hour-long taxi ride to Puno. Puno sits in the mountains at nearly 13,000 feet, so we wanted to get there early in the day in time to adjust before our busy tour the next day.
The view of Puno on the side of the mountain as we rode into town was beautiful. The homes and businesses start right at the edge of the lake and go uphill into the mountain. It is an especially good view whenever the sun hits the buildings just right.
Once we checked into our hotel, we set out to explore and find lunch.
We ate at La Casona, a highly rated place on TripAdvisor. It offered typical Peruvian food that we enjoyed by the window.
We spent the rest of the evening exploring the town. There is not too much to Puno other than the lake, but it is always neat to wander around a new place. We found the cutest little coffee shop (Cafe Bar de La Casa del Corregidor) that served great coffee and pastries. It gets dark early in Peru during this time of year, so it was nice to find a place outside of the hotel to hang out, people watch, and use the free wi-fi in the dark evenings.
For our second day in Puno, we had an all-day tour with Edgar Adventures booked. I’m going to start out by saying that we could not have been happier with our tour choice. I was drawn to this tour company because it advertised a faster boat than other tour companies, and it advertised that the tour stops were in the less crowded parts of the locations we would visit.
The tour company had a bus pick us up at 7:15 in the morning to drive us down to the lake to board our boat. Once we boarded, we were impressed with the quality of the boat’s interior. The seats were very comfortable and each had a good view out the window.
Our first stop on the tour was Tequile Island. Our boat dropped us off on a remote side of the island, so at first there was no one there except for our tour group and a few locals. The island is a really beautiful place. Our guide told us all kinds of interesting facts about the people that live there (Tequileños). The people are well-known for their textiles and handcrafts and their brightly-colored clothing. The boys on the island start learning how to knit as early as the age of 4. Knitting is a very important skill for the men of the island. In fact, our guide told us that one of the major traits a Tequileño woman looks for in a man is the quality of the hats that the man knits. The quality is determined by whether or not the hat can hold water without leaking!
One of our first stops after walking part of the island was to see a Tequileño boy demonstrating his knitting. Boys bring their knitting with them as they walk around the island so that they can get as much practice in as possible.
After relaxing on the beach for a little while, we got into the boat to head to another island for a traditional Peruvian lunch. When we arrived, we were greeted by the island community’s shaman. The shaman was preparing our lunch through a traditional method of cooking with an underground oven while performing a ceremony over the food. Afterward, we ate the lunch in a covered patio by the lake. After a delicious bowl of quinoa soup, we ate plates of fish, chicken, potatoes, and vegetables.
After a leisurely lunch, we got back into the boat to head to our next destination: the Uros Islands. These islands are floating, man-made islands made out of reeds. A group of people (called the Aymarans) actually live on the islands. Our tour group stopped at one of the smaller islands, so again we were not surrounded by any other tourist groups. With the help of some of the children on the island, our guide showed us their process for building an island. The children sang us a song, and we were again able to shop their handcrafts.
We also got to play with the children. One really liked Daniel’s phone. 🙂
See our weekend in Lima here.
See what to pack for a week in winter in Peru here.