While Colca Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, at just under 4000 metres above sea level.
Today we visited the floating Uros islands (picture 1) located on Lake Titicaca, which are still inhabited by the Uros people today. Almost everything on these islands are made out of totora reeds, which grow in abundance in the lake. Houses, kitchens, boats, the island itself, etc. While I felt the set-up a bit too touristy, it was still neat to see these islands and understand the history behind it.
Our second stop was at Taquile island, which I loved! It took about an hour’s hike from our boat to the ‘city centre’, and the view was unbelievable (picture 2). What I love about this island is its rich culture that exists even today. Only the males do the knitting, and females weave. The males also wear special hats that signify whether they are single or married, and wear a mix of Spanish and Andean garments. Most notable to me about Taquile island is their collectivistic view of tourism. Family restaurants for tourists are offered on a rotational basis (e.g. family 1 serves lunch to tourists on Monday, family 2 on Tuesday, etc.) and there is a central market where everyone can sell their handicrafts at a fixed price. Very cool!
A view from yesterday’s bus ride from Chivay to Puno: Lagunillas Lake just before the rain hit :)
I still cannot get over the amazing agricultural terraces in Colca Valley.
The primary purpose of visiting Colca Canyon in Peru is to catch a glimpse of Andean condors - huge birds with a wingspan of 3 metres and a lifespan of about 50 years.
Condors usually fly early in the morning and use heat thermals to aid in lifting off. We woke up early today and after about 2 hours of bumping up and down on rocky roads in our van, we were lucky enough to catch a good dozen or so condors at the viewpoint Cruz Del Condor! At first I confused a hawk for a condor, but I’ve since become a bird expert and can now distinguish a little hawk from a big condor :P
In Chivay: mom walks up to the front desk of our hotel and asks, “If we walk to the main square, are there a lot of dogs running free?”
Man sighs, “Unfortunately, yes. Welcome to the third world.”
Guess we’ll be eating dinner at the hotel :P
Yesterday was our first day taking a local tour from Arequipa to Colca Canyon (which was excellent). Along the way we stopped at the highest point of the road, which is called Pata Pampa and is just under 5000 metres above sea level. Altitude sickness often occurs at 2000+ metres so we prepared ourselves that morning by drinking many cups of coca tea, eating coca candy, and drinking lots of water. Nonetheless, I still felt the altitude - a short walk left me gasping for air like I’d just finished a 30min. run! It was a really strange feeling. The rock formations you see in picture 1 show one the ways the Incas used to worship their gods.
After arriving in the town of Coporaque, our guide took us on a short 1.5 hour hike along the agricultural terraces. Did you know that these terraces were built in pre-Inca times and are still used today?
More alpaca and llama pictures for your viewing pleasure. Peru rocks!
Let it be known that alpacas are really freakin’ cute!
This picture is inside the cathedral at Plaza de Armas in Arequipa.
Today’s highlight was checking out the Museo Sanctuarios Andinos, which houses Juanita, the ‘Inca ice maiden’ who was killed as a sacrifice to the Inca gods. She is one of the most well-preserved mummies ever found! It was super cool and yet kinda eerie seeing her in her -22C chamber, completely preserved and yet 500 years old. Unfortunately no pictures were allowed, but google “mummy Juanita” and you can read all about it!
Bucket list #162: get photobombed by a pigeon.