Besides the mesmerizing Machu Picchu trek, the second week in Peru I took a side trip to one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is of fairytale reputation – pristine blue waters that match the intensity and saturation of the sky, cotton candy clouds, scarcely inhabited islands and traditional cultures and people. From Lima, I flew into Juliaca and took a cab to the town of Puno: the jump-off point for exploring Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side. I stayed at Hotel Libertador and loved how peaceful and beautiful the hotel grounds were.
The city of Puno is a regional trading hub, the city’s also considered Peru’s “folkloric capital” owing to its traditional festivals featuring vibrant music and dancing. In Puno, I strolled around the town to see the colorful architecture and had lunch at the cutest cafe, Cafe Bar de la Casa del Corregidor.
I took a tour to the Uro Islands and the lovely Taquile Island. The Uro Islands are comprised of a fewer than 5,000 inhabitants. The Uru People have lost their language about 500 years ago and only hold onto a few of their ancient customs/beliefs. The islands they live on are built entirely from the very reeds that grow on the lake’s banks. Hundreds of layers of totora reed are stacked on a floating reed root. Even though families still live on the islands, they are mostly for tourist purposes now, at least that is how it felt.
Breaching the waters of Peru’s Lake Titicaca is the little mound island of Taquile where the local villagers have created a steady industry of knit handicrafts, which are knit by the men of the community. Taquileños are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. The island was once a prized possession of the Incas which is reflected in the intricate terracing.