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We had a very pleasant trip to Puno, where we would later visit the Uros Islands. Our bus, provided by the company Turismo Mer, was very comfortable and the long journey was made short as we slept for almost the whole journey.
The only inconvenience was the wrong information which we were given by the agent who sold us the ticket. Not that this would be a deal breaker, but he informed us that we would be on the 1st floor of the bus, that an internet connection was available (although this is more the bus company’s fault, as it wasn’t working at the beginning and end of the trip), and that each seat had an individual TV screen. We think that having an individual screen is better so that we can make sure Noah isn’t watching a movie which is inappropriate for his age.
We left Cusco at 10pm and arrived in Puno at about 4:45am the next morning. Unfortunately, the person with whom we were supposed to rent a room did not show up at the terminal and we had to quickly rent another room. As we hadn’t had confirmation that he was coming the night before, we prepared a plan B and wrote down a few other hostels and hotels that still had rooms available for an affordable price.
We called the one we liked the most which was cheaper than the room we were supposed to rent, and as they only had a suite available we got a large room for only about US$18 with breakfast included.
At about 5:30 we were there and still had some time to get some sleep before a tour to the Uros Islands and the city. Puno is a small city, located 3,800m above sea level next to Lake Titicaca.
One of the most sought-after activities in Puno is a boat trip to the floating Uros islands. It is not an expensive activity, but we admit that we could’ve paid less than the S/ 25 per person that we paid. It was early in the morning and we simply booked one of the tours available at the bus station, but visitors can get it for around S/ 20.
As we wanted a quiet day we booked the short tour which started at 12:00pm (so plenty of time for us to sleep) and ended at about 2:30pm.
Our guide arrived at the hotel at 12 o’clock sharp and drove us to the port where we, along with another 6 people, would take a small boat to the islands. We noticed that Noah was still tired, and perhaps he did not enjoy the tour that much, but luckily it was a short one.
The boat takes about 20 minutes to get to the islands and we passed the most expensive hotel in Puno which is located on an island on the way.
The Uros are 89 islands inhabited by families whose ancestry dates back to before the Incas and who speak the Aymara language. These are floating islands built from totora rushes and which have houses made from the same material. Because the material floats the islands can be moved to different places, as was the case recently because they thought they would be safer closer to the mainland.
We arrived at one of the islands and were told about how the houses and islands are built, the material, and even that that same material, totora, can be eaten. They also told us that the Uros islands take about 1 year to be finished. Afterwards, one of the inhabitants invited Ruth, Noah and me to visit her cabaña. It is a normal hut with a bed, electricity (from solar panels) and small hangers for clothes. Afterwards we even got to try on their traditional clothes. Noah did not enjoy this part very much – probably he was not comfortable wearing different clothes from what he usually wears – and he went outside to play with another kid. We were just concerned that he might get too close to the water. One of the inhabitants told us that it is very common for kids from the islands to drown in the water if their parents are not taking care of them, so we had all eyes on Noah at all times!
After that we went on a better-designed boat that they compare to a “Mercedes” 🙂 which took us to another of the Uros islands, where visitors can have a meal (such as grilled fish and fruit) and rest a bit. We thought that the prices were a bit high compared with what we have found in some places in Peru (for instance grilled fish cost about S/ 18), so we just took some fruit to re-energise before having some lunch in Puno. During this small inter-island trip (for which we had to pay an extra S/ 10 per person!), they showed us a place where visitors can sleep for a night to get an authentic experience in Uros.
It was interesting to visit the islands and the inhabitants but, like in any other touristic place, the impact that tourists have on the region is noticeable, with lots of goods being sold and accommodation experiences being offered, etc. Still, this is a tour that is worth taking but we just recommend negotiating hard on the price in advance.
After this pleasant trip to the Uros Islands we still had some time for a late lunch at a local restaurant in Puno. Noah slept almost the whole time while we were at the restaurant, but once he woke up he enjoyed the dishes.
It was a short day for us, although very pleasant. We left Puno the next day with the impression that, despite being short, this trip was worth the time we spent on it.
Next stop, Lake Titicaca and La Paz!