Normal service has been resumed after my capitulation in Puno. With a few pills safely lodged inside me we were able to take to Lake Titicaca and see the floating islands of Uros. It was a funny experience with the inhabitants now totally supported by tourism, which gives the impression that whilst the landscape is amazing, something has definitely been lost here.
With their income derived from tourism it is a strange place as the entire history of the community seems to have vanished replaced by the need to sell brightly coloured things to us tourists. Even the guide provided very little history or a feeling for the traditions of the islands.
It was amazing to see how they built the islands using the roots of reeds with then tops of the reeds then layered over to create a cushioned platform which they lived on. They made pretty much everything with these reeds including the islands, their houses and their boats (the ones not powered by outboard engines that is).
We had a good explore around Puno as it really isn’t very big but were very ready to leave and head to Cusco aboard the Andean Explorer which has to be one of the best train journeys in the world. Forget the 14.52 to Nuneaton, this thing was epic.
It was an early start but well worth it as the train cut through this glorious country skirting mountains, valleys, streams and more. With a bar at the back and a viewing carriage offering sumptuous views we were rarely in our seats (which were huge padded armchairs). They put on live music, a fashion show and taught us how to make Pisco Sours but Jen was a little more interested in drinking them than making them.
The views throughout were breathtaking and a good preparation for our trek in the Andes:
We made it to Cusco pretty late and soon realised that Cusco is a different beast altogether to Puno. Checking in to our hostel we were greeted with a sign that read “Get ready to party” – at this point it dawned on us that we may be staying at the wrong place!
The next day we met up with our group for our 5 day trek to Machu Picchu having taken in the sights of a huge procession driving through the heart of Cusco. From dancing godfathers to bumbling gorillas this procession had it all. Our wonderfully small trekking group also had it all, with Jim and Mary aged 66 from Canada and Cushla closer to our age from New Zealand. The five of us would be taking on 60km over four days scaling heights of 4,600m.