Thursday, 27 November 2014

0158 Tinajani Canyon to Lake Titicaca

27th Nov

Woke up to temps of about minus 2 deg C.  I knew it had ben cold because I was warm when I awoke at 4 am, but then was freezing by the time I got up at about 6.30 am !!  But thankfully the strong winds of last night had died down so we hadn’t blown away !  But there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and when the sun came out over the top of the canyon walls, it quickly warmed up – Well, as much as it ever does when you are at 4000 metres.  At these altitudes it can be really hot when you are in the sun, but if you get in the shade, or the sun goes behind a cloud, you realise the air temps are pretty low !  Anyway, the canyon was just as stunning this morning as it had been last night, and we had breakfast enjoying the scenery.  The farmer came round to see how we were, and we gave him some plantains we had bought yesterday thinking they were bananas !!  Yuk when you try to eat them raw like bananas, but fine when they are fried like crisps / chips !  Anyway, the farmer was pleased with them, and we left to drive out of the canyon and back to the main road to continue our way to Lake Titicaca.

It seems we were the last people up this morning, because we had some hikers walk past us while we were eating breakfast, and then we saw several farmers with their cows / sheep / llamas letting their herds feed in the fields.  Out on the main road, it was more of the flat altiplano, and the stunning clear views of the hills on the sides.   At one stage a freight train past us and it was funny to see the train on one side, a stray dog by the road, mud brick huts on the other side of the road, and an old lady sitting on the edge of the road – A complete mix of new technology and the old way of life.

We then came to a fairly sizeable town called Juliaca – Large font on the map makes one think you  are coming into some big city.  Well it was big all right – but the highway, which in the country was a really good two lane highway, suddenly disappeared and we were swallowed up in really rough dirt roads, road works, absolutely no signs, and roads which just stopped in the middle of a crossing and left you to decide whether you would like to go left or right !!  Of course, today Garmin had lost the plot, and Google Maps didn’t even know what country we were in, so it was back to the old standby – Ask for directions every hundred yards !!  The easy way to do this in a RH drive vehicle in a LH drive country is just to ask the driver next to you because of course he is right beside you.  And that system worked well, and eventually we got out of Juliaca.   Stupid place !

Not long after Juliaca we reached Puno, the main city on the edge of Lake Titicaca. We planned to book a tour to the floating islands on the Lake, but it was lunch time when travel agencies are closed so we decided to go and look for a campsite first.  We had one that looked good, so went about 15 kms S of Puna and after lots of asking we were directed to go 5 blocks into the village and it would be on our right.  Well, the roads for those 5 blocks were goat tracks – We almost needed 4 WD to get up them – But they are classed as roads round here !!  So we bounced 5 blocks, with the roads getting narrower and narrower, and then turned right, and sure enough, there was this lovely little hotel that had a spot for camping !!  You really never know what you are going to find down here !

We then went back to find an open travel agent, and I had to park and stay in the car while Janet went off to see what she could find in the way of tours.  To cut a long story short, she came back with an option of staying in a hotel for a very good rate which included breakfast and secure parking, and then going on a morning tour on the lake before coming back to pick up the car and head off down the road.  This had so many advantages over the 20 km distant camp site that it didn’t take too much to persuade me, so next thing you know we are in the hotel and enjoying hot showers, wifi, and a set dinner for about $12 including a whole avocado entrée, local lake Titicaca grilled trout, and a serve of chocolate ice cream !  Washed down with a local dark beer or three while we chatted to a very nice couple of Danish guys, Sten and Mike, and we then retired to our warm hotel room ready for an early wake up for our tour on Lake Titicaca.

One night in the freezing wilds of the altiplano, and the next in a nice warm hotel room with hot showers ! I wonder where we will be tomorrow night ? !!

Pics are here :-

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