Our first stop in Peru was Puno which is the town a few hours from Bolivia and Lake Titicaca. We had visited the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca with our visit to Isla Del Sol. Puno is the nearest town to the floating islands of Oros, which was the main reason of our visit and something we had been looking forward to since the start of planning our travels. Oros is home to 2,000 inhabitants with 500 families.
We booked a half day Tour through our Hostel but hadn’t realised the tour was leaving at 9 o’clock so had just 5 minutes from booking to leaving! We were taken to the port to board our boat. On arrival to the floating island – Oros we were greeted by some locals who were waiting for us. Our guide then gave us an insight into the history of the island and showed us how it was built and is maintained. The floor is made up of a metre of bamboo shoots. It felt very spongey but at the same time very secure. They have to keep topping it as it obviously wears away easily. We found it fascinating learning about how it started and were given a demonstration on how it was built. We were then shown around one of the houses. They were pretty cosy and had solar panel outside for light. Some of them even have electricity and tvs.
The only bit I didn’t like was been made to feel guilty not buying anything from them. The stuff they were selling was good but we literally didn’t have money on us and no room in our bags for anything anyway. But that’s how they now make their living so you can understand why they are pushy for tourists to buy things. We were then sung some songs from the local women in 4 different languages – Quechua, Spanish, English and the local language on the floating islands which I forgot what it was called! The English song was a version of ‘row row your boat’.
We did pay for a separate gondola ride which the money went directly to the families. The gondola or Mercedes Benz as the locals call them took us further down the island. It was a good experience sitting on top of the boat.
That day was mine and Kyles 9 years anniversary! Who’d have thought that long ago we’d be celebrating it on a floating island in Peru?!
We only had one night in Puno so didn’t get to see much more of the town but had a wander around and like always found ourselves in the local market. Eating lunch in the markets or on the street has become the norm for us. We got soup and a generous plateful of chicken/fish, rice, salad and chips for just £1!
Our next stop was Arequipa which was about a 5 Hour Bus Journey (we still have only taken one flight in South America!). Our main reason to visit Arequipa was to visit the Colca Canyon plus we’d heard it was a nice city. However we decided against doing it as it was quite expensive and would have involved a 10 hour bus journey in one day then another bus later that night to get to our next stop. So we instead decided to have a relaxing morning and do an afternoon Free Walking Tour of the city. However…. The weather was nice and sunny (above 20 degrees which was a treat!) and after having to wait 20 minutes for the guide, we decided we just wanted to go have a drink in the sun so left the tour after the introduction. We felt quite bad but enjoyed a couple of beers and then a Pisco Sour on a rooftop bar when the sun was setting. Perfect! But thats when we (I) should have stopped. We went in search of more happy hours and ended up at the Wild Rover hostel, which is a chain of ‘party hostels’ which we usually avoid staying at. That’s where the night went downhill – let’s just say it involved dancing (and falling off) the bar, singing with the band and playing the bongos and then getting a police escort back to town… I had got leary on the way home and got stopped by 2 policeman just avoiding getting arrestd. He told us we were in a bad neighbourhood and give us a lift to the tourist information so we could get a taxi. Funny as the next day I thought we were home by 11 and we only had one beer at the hostel!
The next day was a bit of a write off apart from going to buy bus tickets and watching premiership football on TV. A McDonalds worked wonders just in time for our overnight bus to Cusco.
Cusco was our stopping point to visit Machu Picchu. We booked a 4 day / 3 night jungle tour but I’ll write about that in a different blog. Believe me it deserves it’s own blog!
The plan after Cusco was to go to a place called Huacachina which is an oasis in the desert and where you can sandboard down the dunes, however after Machu Picchu I could barely walk due to two very swollen and sore feet so there wasn’t much point in trying to sandboard. We instead headed up to Lima and would come back once my feet had heeled. Bit of a shame as it was on the way from Cusco.
A 24 hour bus took us from Cusco to Lima and even without moving all that time I couldn’t walk so had to have a full day resting it. Shame again as it was a nice sunny day and the only one we had whilst there.
When we actually got to see some of Lima we were very impressed. It was like we had just entered a western city. We stayed in the area Miraflores which must be on of the nicest places in Peru. It’s filled with nice looking shopping centres, expensive (still Peru prices) restaurants and all the big chains – Starbucks, McDonalds, KFC etc. We took a free walking tour of the downtown area which was nice too.
The following day was the Bradford v Leeds game (if you’re not aware of the significance – it was enough to not make any other plans for the day!) so we had a quiet morning and managed to stream the game from the hostel computer. We were going to go to a Peruvian football game that night but were put off when we heard it was in a rough area and stories of ‘gringos’ getting threatened by football hooligans.
Next stop was the delayed trip to Ica and Huacachina which actually worked out well as we would be in Huacachina (a desert oasis) for my birthday. Huacachina was amazing, one of my favourite places. We didn’t book a hostel in advance as they looked expensive online so thought we’d find somewhere cheaper there. We actually went to one of the ones we ruled out online as it was expensive and got a pretty good deal with the dune buggy and sandboarding included. The hostel felt like a hotel with a pool, bar and hammocks in a tranquil setting (though I’m pretty sure there were bed bugs there).
The next day we had one of the best hostel breakfasts we’d had, then went to have a walk around the lake. We hired a Pedalo and enjoyed a birthday beer whilst pedalling around the lake. After a few hours lazing in the hammocks, we were picked up for our dune bugging and sandboarded. It was amazing! The dune buggy was such good fun. Our drivers favourite trick was to stop, point out the view to everyone and then set back off quickly down a huge dune that we were oblivious was there. We were then dropped at a big drop and told to lay down on our boards and go down. Bloody scary but so much fun apart from I cut my chin on the wood! We did a couple more then got to a point to try the boarding. My feet wouldn’t fit in the Velcro straps so couldn’t do any boarding but Kyle gave it a go and was actually better at that than his few attempts at snowboarding!
We then drove a bit further and got to a spot to watch the sunrise. A perfect end to the day! Which was then followed by a meal in one of those restaurant things, some Pisco Sours and a free cocktail!
The next day it was back up to Lima to catch another bus further north. By the time we got to Lima we just missed the bus we planned to take to Mancora so had to take another to a place a little further north then from there we would get to Mancora. After two days of travelling we finally got there! Mancora is a little Beach town pretty close to the Ecuadorian border – a good place for us to end our Peruvian travels.
We had a couple of relaxing days on the beach. We took a mototaxi to a beach a little further out from the town which was worth it as the beach was literally deserted. It made a nice change to relax and not get harassed by people to buy things. We walked back along the beach to the town and the beach got dirtier and busier so we definitely picked a good spot!
From Mancora it was onto Cuenca in Ecuador. I’ll write about that in the
The post Peru Adventures – An Anniversary on a Floating Island, Police Escorts, a World Wonder, a Desert Oasis & Beach Time appeared first on Our Big Fat Travel Adventure.
This post first appeared on Our Big Fat Travel Adventure - Blogging Our Way Ar, please read the originial post: here