A traditional Lake Titicaca reed boat in action.
Puno is not a pretty Inca city but it has colour and life thanks to the Peruvian Andean people, the bizarre floating villages on Lake Titicaca and the surrounding Altiplano.
Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world at 3, 820 metres, and the home of alien spaceships according to Shirley Maclean.
In fact some quite alien people, the Uros, live on the lake, on floating, one metre thick, reed-floored islands, including a floating church and football pitch. The reeds rot away underneath and are constantly replaced on top, so if you put your foot down firmly you may find yourself in deep water. It’s fascinating but becoming increasingly commercialised – for a small fee a Uros man will takes tourists for a paddle in a reed canoe; the trouble is he requires a much larger amount to take them back to the island.
Taquile is another unusual and interesting Titicaca island worth visiting, where men spend their time knitting while ladies make the yarn, tho’ it’s more about tourist sales than tribal gratification these days. Lake Titicaca Photos and More Information
Titicaca’s port of Puno is an attractive town but has lively markets, colourful people and is the port from which to explore Lake Titicaca; it’s also a transit point between Bolivia and Cuzco. Puno leads the world in bowler hat wearing women, while the surrounding, barren altiplano (high plain) is llama country.
One of my clearest memories of Puno is of being beaten with a bunch of spring onions by an exotically dressed, mad Indian hatter when – after asking a couple of market ladies if I could take their photo, one said yes and one said no – so I took a picture of the yes woman and was promptly thumped by the no woman.