After NOT trekking the Colca Canyon in Arequipa, the Bear and I board our second Cruz del Sur bus, for a 6 hour climb to the town of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. It’s a journey that leaves us breathless in places, and it’s on this trip that I begin to understand what altitude acclimation really means.
At 3,812 metres above sea level, Lake Titicaca gets a lot of attention because it’s the highest navigable lake in the world (whatever that means). Sandwiched between the borders of Peru and Bolivia, it turns out that it’s also the largest lake in South America by volume of water.
From the Peruvian side of the border, the lake is decidedly unattractive. Puno, the town on it’s shores, doesn’t fare much better. It’s a dusty town full of ramshackle buildings, unused railway tracks and women in hats that don’t fit properly. Before long, the Bears have nicknamed the town Poooooono (yeah, we’re that mature).
It doesn’t help that we’re both feeling pretty nasty. The 1500 metre increase in elevation has left us both with lingering headaches that won’t go away, breathlessness and slight nosebleeds. It takes 2 or 3 days before we’re fully back to normal. However, it’s weeks before my skin recovers from the lack of humidity in the air and the impact of the searing, hot sun. We both burn our scalps so badly, that the skin on the top of our heads is peeling off in chunks for days afterwards. Really, scalp burn?
Most people arrive in Puno to visit the islands dotted on the surface of the lake, and the Bear and I are no different.
More about our visits to the Lake Titicaca islands of Uros, Amantani and Taquile in the next posts.
Where we stayed in Puno: Santa Maria Inn. Private double with ensuite bathroom, hot water (not a given in Peru), delicious breakfast (eggs and freshly squeezed juice) and wifi in the lobby. All for 64 soles ($24). Definitely recommended.