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Off to see Peru! Part 4

Puno, Cusco

sunny 70 °F

I am up at 4:30, pack and down to the lobby. Tea, bread and the Peru Hop van arrived at 5:45 am. Shuttle over to the big bus and off we go for Puno. Rest stop, bathroom and a chance to stretch your legs.. Another stop for an overview of Lake Titicaca. Our guide offers the one day Island Tour on the bus, $20 and I sign up. I would recommend using Peru Hop for rooms and tours. You just don't save enough to book rooms on another platform and tours are the same price. They are experts on Peru and it makes sense to use their services.
The bus stops on the outskirts of Puno and we are transferred to vans. Just like every city since Lima, the Peru Hop bus is too big for the narrow streets. Van shuttle to my room at Pacha Suites, $35 for 3 nites. The nicest room so far. Unpack and then off to explore Puno. I found the main plaza and buy some ice cream as it is very hot walking around the plaza. Photos, then into a travel info office. They showed me a veggie restaurant not too far from my room. I decided to walk to it and check out the menu. It was not too expensive and I would try it tonite. Back to my room, shower, rest. At 7 pm I headed out in the rain. I use my floppy hat as I don't have an umbrella. I really don't like eating alone in a restaurant but did not want another street food meal. It was 14 sols for salad, potatoes, rice, veggies. Back in the rain, exercises, read, bed.
Up at 6 am for tea, bread, van picks me up at 6:45 then drives around picking up others. Once at the dock area, our Peru Hop guide walks us as a group to the boats. Unfortunately our boat is 5th from the dock. That means you walk across 4 other boats to get to yours. I found it tough going but their were crew members from the other boats to help the women and older folks on to then off their boat. Finally we all are on board and off we go for the islands. There are several reed islands offshore and I guess the captains pick one and let the others know. That way not all of us are on the same island at the same time. We are let off on Uros island. Getting off the boat was not easy either, at least for me. Our guide and an islander help you jump down to the reed island. I was by far the oldest one on the tour and needed the help. The reed islands bob like a raft when you step on them. We are told there is about 6 feet (2 meters) of reed on each island. It is replaced each year as the bottom layers rot away. Our guide tells us that most of the families on the islands never do live on the mainland. Too expensive. Their main source of income was fishing, but now I think selling souvenirs to the tourist is more lucrative. The islanders demonstrate how they make the souvenirs, cook, weave the reeds, etc. I decide to buy a pillow cover for 40 sols. It is very colorful and will go on my bedroom wall. There is a reed paddle boat that takes a short circuit of the island, 10 sols. Everyone in my tour group take the paddle boat, another quick 250 sols for the islanders.
After the paddle boat, we get back on our boat and we motor to the Amantani Island for lunch. They dock on one side on the island and you walk to the other side for lunch. It is pretty steep going and I am last all the way. I make it but it was an hour hike for me. We are at 13,00 ft (4,000 meters) so many of us are short of breath. I have coca lozenges with me and start sucking on them. I am not sure they help but at least they keep your mouth moist. Our guide stayed with me as the rest of the group were much younger and had no difficulty with the hike. We are lead to several long tables and the set lunch is served. They have veggie and a meat choice. I have the soup, omelet, rice, bread. After lunch and bathroom break, we have to go down a flight of stairs to get to our boat. Tough on the knees but I just let everyone go ahead of me and brought up the rear. Long ride back, photos of the reeds, islands, back to Puno docks. I tip our guide 10 sols as he was helpful getting me on/off the boat plus stayed with me on the hike over the island to our lunch stop. Van back to plaza. Ice cream, fruit, room. I just have fruit, bread for dinner, exercises, read, TV, bed at 9 pm.
Up at 7 am, into the BF room. I was the only one there and the ladies fixed me eggs to go with bread and tea. There is a coca tea at every hotel and hopefully it helps with the altitude. I walk to the tourist information office to get ideas for the day. The Coca Museum is close by and I walk there, 10 sols. A few photos and then off to the overlook. A lot of stairs but a decent view of the plaza area. I look at my city map and decide to take a taxi to Condor Hill Viewpoint, 5 sols. I now have 620 steps to the top. There are benches about every 40 steps and I rest at most of them. It is hot and a long slog to the top. I made it but not sure it was worth the effort. I try to get in a decent walk everyday, but this is most strenuous so far. There is a nice view of all of Puno, but it is hard on my body. A once in a lifetime event. Photos then the long walk down. Not as bad and I rest every other rest area. At the bottom I try to get a taxi to the plaza. A few stopped but the price was silly, 20 sols for a 5 minute ride. I bought some ice cream, looked at my map and walked downhill to the plaza. There was a parade getting organized, took some photos and then more ice cream. It is really hot and I bought some water to re hydrate. Back then my room. Shower, rest. I just had fruit, bread in my room for dinner. TV, exercises, bed.
Up at 7 and to BF room for eggs, bread, fruit, tea. Clean up, pack and check room so I don't forget anything. Lobby, van to big bus, Karina is our host, off at 11 am for Cusco. They show some movies like Lion King, Gladiator, try to read. Lunch stop, 20 sols. Soup, salad, pasta, dessert. Buffet style so you can eat quickly and back on the bus. Into Cusco at 6 pm and Peru Hop pays for the taxi to your room. Arrive at Casona Regional, 8 nites for $112 on Visa card. 2 beds, share bath. I did my exercises, shower, read bead by 9 pm.

Up at 7, clean up, bathroom, clean up, to BF room, top of the stairs. There is a US volunteer named Max plus some other girls serving the pancakes, fruit, tea. The front desk guy called Edwin for my trip to Mahcu Picchu. There are basically 3 ways to visit MP. The most expensive and difficult is to hike the Inca Trail into the backside of MP. You have to book it months in advance, be able to hike 4 days up and down the Andes and sleep in a tent for 3 nites. Cost is roughly $800. The cheapest option is only for the young and fit. You really can go from Cusco, tour MP and back for around $100. Here is that option. The overwhelming majority of tourists do the 1 day or 2 day train option. Edwin and I sat down and looked at my options. Your price will be decided by what train company, where you stay in Aguas Caliente. We chatted about what options and it came out to $280. My Visa card would not work for some reason and I went to an ATM with Edwin and paid him in cash. I was a bit apprehensive about that but he has worked with Casona Regional for many years. On to the main plaza for photos, walk around. I met a couple from NYC, Joe & Alice and we walked to several of the churches together. Peru Hop has its main office in San Blas plaza and we walked there. Peru Hop gives you a t-shirt if you ride the entire Lima to Cusco route with them. I got my shirt, bought some fruit, rolls for snack and started walking back to my hostel. I spotted an e-mail shop and brought everyone up to date on my trip so far. Room, kitchen for tea, fruit, bread, socialize. Exercises, shower, read, bed by 9 pm.

Up at 7 am, kitchen and Max was again doing the pancakes, fruit, tea. There was a young Danish couple there and we got to chatting. They had walked from the hydroelectric plant into AG, then hiked up the switchbacks to MP. You can save $200 if you are fit enough to do the cheap route, I am not in that category anymore. Plaza, photos of a parade, snack. Took a tour that included a famous church, 15 sols. No photos allowed in the church and I got tired of my tour guide. We would walk maybe 15 meters and he would start his spiel. Walk 10 meters and tell us what we are looking at. I got fed up with this and left the tour and started walked back to the plaza. On the way I saw some llamas and alpacas in a small square. I got much better photos than my Colca Canyon llama shots. I gave the ladies 3 sols for using their llamas for my photos. This is how they make their living, I chatted with a couple from Holland that took the photos of me and walked back to the main plaza. It started a light rain and I headed for my hostel. It is about a 20 minute walk back and spotted a real food market. I bought some fruit, bread and waited until the rain let up. Back to the hostel I found out my door would not lock. They moved me to room 101 that has a bath and TV. $5 more/nite. Up to the kitchen to eat, chat, then exercise, shower, TV, bed.
They fixed my door and I moved back to 204. 101 had a tv, its own bath but was smaller and I could hear street noise. 204 was larger, quieter Upstairs for eggs, bread, tea. Max was off. Today was basically a repeat: walk to the plaza, snack, photos. Stop at the store on my way back to the hostel. I was going to MP tomorrow and was in bed by 8 pm. I have to be up at 4:30 am to meet Edwin and get to the train on time.

Posted by vegasmike6 07:21 Archived in Peru

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Beautifully presented...almost makes you feel as though I am the traveler!!!

by vegasmike6

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