Via the Altiplano of Peru to Isla del Sol, Bolivia

The itineraries of most Peruvian tours include significant historic and scenic destinations. On this Travel Enriched Tour our aim has been to give participants an appreciation also of the local culture, both in urban and rural areas. Our visit to San Benito, the pueblo on the outskirts of Lima, enabled us to learn something of how rural migrants to the city are trying to build a new way of life. High up on the Altiplano we were afforded a similar opportunity when we visited people in the small Quechua speaking village of Yanaoca. This gave us some understanding of the way of life of communities in this remote region. The warm welcome that we received over a traditional lunch cooked in a handmade earth oven and the display of traditional dancing by the youth will remain important highlights of our Peruvian experience.

A traditional Huaita earth mound oven in Yanaoca‏

A traditional Huaita earth mound oven in Yanaoca‏

Our co-host at the traditional lunch in Yanaoca‏

Our co-host at the traditional lunch in Yanaoca‏

 

The main organiser of our Welcome lunch in Yanaoca‏

The main organiser of our Welcome lunch in Yanaoca‏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making a hole in the top of the mound to pour in vegetables

Making a hole in the top of the mound to pour in vegetables

Collapsing the mound to cook the vegetables‏

Collapsing the mound to cook the vegetables‏

Delicioso!‏

Delicioso!‏

Spuds a plenty!‏

Spuds a plenty!‏

The smiles are a good indicator of the quality of the food!‏

The smiles are a good indicator of the quality of the food!‏

After our overnight stop in Yanaoca we travelled via the sprawling city of Puno, beside the shores of Lake Titicaca to the border of Bolivia. Our journey across the Altiplano took us to our highest point, 3,438 metres above sea level. Lake Titicaca is the highest situated navigable lake in the world. Some would call it an inland sea. Our bus deposited us on the Peruvian side where, after passing through immigration, we pulled our luggage across the border and navigated the Bolivian customs authorities. Fortunately we had left most of our luggage at our hotel in Puno to travel by small motor boat from the small port town of Copacabana to Isla del Sol, the Island of the Sun.

The snow capped peaks of the Bolivian Andes‏

The snow capped peaks of the Bolivian Andes‏

Time to relax and enjoy the magnificence of Lake Titicaca‏

Time to relax and enjoy the magnificence of Lake Titicaca‏

On arrival on the Island we were treated to a welcome lunch in a most idyllic setting beside the lake. Little did we know what was in store! A slow climb up a steep and rocky slope while our luggage was transported by donkeys and mules over even more difficult terrain. Despite the discomfort of the moment we all agreed that the reward that we received when we arrived at our ecolodge La Estancia, was well worth the effort! Two relaxing days were spent visiting nearby villages and other significant local sites, all with superb vistas of the snow-capped peaks of the highest of the Bolivian Andes mountains. Our lodge at almost 4.000 metres above sea level seemed dwarfed against these rocky giants of over 6,500 metres.

Estancia Lodge on Isla del Sol‏

Estancia Lodge on Isla del Sol‏

We climbed to great heights on Isla del Sol!‏

We climbed to great heights on Isla del Sol!‏

Donkeys and mules are central to life on Isla del Sol‏

Donkeys and mules are central to life on Isla del Sol‏

And so back to Puno, with time to pack and enjoy a Farewell Dinner. Some chose to dine on Alpaca or guinea pig, others opted for less exotic fare. Most enjoyed a final Pisco sour or a glass of freshly made lemonade. A tour related quiz and prizes awarded for astounding achievements, such as improved Spanish vocab provided a little light entertainment and laughter. A fitting end to a fantastic small group holiday!

Farewell dinner in Puno – Enjoying a final Pisco Sour!

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