PUNO

Going from Arequipa to Puno is fast and easy, and even here you risk to pay more when you pre-book. 

Puno itself is not that great, there is the cathedral and you can climb up to the Mirador El Condor. But mind you, this will be one of the highest points of your Peru-trip, and you mind feel it. They even had oxygen bottles at my hotel just in case. 


I suffered a big deal from the altitude, stumbled around like a zombie and was hardly able to eat something. The recommended coca tea did not help, the drugs I'd bought - some tablets they sell you from an open pack, something totally unthinkable in Europe - did a good job; but they dried out my nostril, so that after a while I got a nose bleed. One pays a high price for all this awe.





lago titicaca
Traditional boat on Lake Titicaca.

However, the trip to the self made Uros Islands and especially to the famous Isla Taquile is just wonderful! Visiting the islands is very touristy, the boats reaching the islands like trains at Grand Central, the information rattled off, and at the end you can buy some souvenirs - such as wind chimes and containers made of the straw.
Isla Taquile is a jewel in the incredibly blue water of the Lake Titicaca (no, don't make the joke!).


isla taquile
A Taquileño overlooking the deep blue lake. I wonder if he's dreamily enjoying the view - or just dreams of getting away from all the knitting.

knitting on isla taquile
Besides the natural beauty of the lake and the island, it's the knitting Taquileños who attract daily boat loads of tourists. 


The day trip's part on the Uros islands depends strongly on your guide, and mine was not good at all. Much show, little information. I got the tour really cheap, though: I just walked in at the first tour shop at the corner Jr. Lima and Jr. Deustua at the Plaza de Armas.

One of the best dinners I had in Peru was served at the "Tradiciones del Lago" at Jr. Lima 418. It was their special "Alpaca a la romuñay con guarición de puré de quinua" - Alpaca with quinoa in mashed potatoes; it's melting in your mouth!


Going from Puno to Cusco (or the other way around, for that matter) you can easily add a handful of really nice sights on the way. There is a tourist overland bus stopping at


1. Pucara, about 100 km/60 mi from Puno, with a nice cathedral at the town's plaza where you get guided through a archeological museum. If you'd like to get some ceramics for souvenir, do it here, the vendors around the plaza sell nice pieces for really good prices.



pucara
Iglesia de Santa Isabel de Pucará

2. La Raya, the highest point on your way - 4.335 meters/14,222 feet above sea level.



3. Lunch at the the Pascana II restaurant at Sicuani, where you cannot only sample Peruvian food, but buy all sort of knitted wear and take cheesy pictures with llamas and alpacas and Peruvian kids dressed as...Peruvians. That part is a bit tacky, but the food is really nice, considered that it is a tourist trap.



pascana II at sicuani
Racked up animals and disguised kids - how tacky and touristy can it get?!

4. And off you go downhill - from La Raya you'll have dropped 1.200 meters/almost 4,000 feet - to Raqchi to visit the archeological site with the remnants of the Great temple the Incas had built for God Wiracocha. Souvenirs also here - I bought a really neat woolen wall hanging. Don't forget to bargain a bit.



raqchi
A majestic Inca Temple made from clay and volcanic rock.

5. Your getting close to Cusco, only one more stop: Andahuaylillas (no, there is not one single typo in this word!), where you find the really beautiful church of St. Paul and St. Peter, quite rightly also referred to as Latin America's sistine chapel.



Yes, it's a nice baroque church - but sistine chapel? Really? Have you been to the sistine chapel? Because that's another place that overwhelmed me so much that I almost cried (yes, I do cry easily, I could make a living as a professional mourner) - and lo siento mucho, but this cute little church cannot compete with it. 

And finally, in the late afternoon, you arrive at Cusco. ¡Feliz Viaje!



To read a post on the mountainous region around Arequipa and the Colca Canyon, Puno and Lake Titicaca as well as Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas and Machu Picchu, go to this special post.
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I've visited in Peru? 
Then go to the main post and take your pick!



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