Taking a boat from Copacabana, Bolivia across Lake Titicaca to Puno, Peru was much slower and more expensive than taking a bus. But I didn’t have a choice. The roads were closed. A group of striking Peruvian miners had shut down the Bolivia-Peru border at Desaguadero in order to draw attention to their situation.
Along with about 50 other tourists I boarded a bus in Copacabana at 7:30am for the very short ride to Yunguyo, where we checked out of Bolivia, made a brief walk through no-man’s-land, and then stopped at the Peruvian immigration office to receive our entry stamp. Two large groups of Israeli backpackers made the process much more difficult than necessary. Up until then all the Israelis I’d met on this trip had been pleasant and easy-going. But every country has bad seeds, and both of these groups were pushy (literally and figuratively), loud, and unreasonably demanding.
Once our passports had been stamped we marched towards the muddy shore of Lake Titicaca, where several rickety rowboats were waiting to shuttle us to the larger boats that would take us on to Puno. We were joined by another throng of tourists and the scene became chaotic. The two Israeli groups shoved their way to the front of the line and refused to back up when a representative from the boat company tried to organize us. “¿Por qué siempre hay problemas con los Israelíes?” the representative asked.
“No!” yelled one of the Israelis. “Israelis bueno!”
Eventually we all made it on board one of three motorboats and our little fleet set off for Puno. Lake Titicaca is beautiful, but after nine hours I’d had more than enough. It was dark by the time we docked in Puno. I found a hotel room, ate dinner, and crashed. The next morning I opened my curtains and was happily surprised to discover an incredible view of the sun rising over the lake.
I’d heard mixed reviews of Puno’s most popular tourist attraction, a trip out to the floating totorareed islands of the Uros people. Another boat ride didn’t appeal to me so I just started walking around the city.
At mid-day I stumbled onto the beginning of what turned out to be a large parade. There were marching bands, kids dressed up in all kinds of costumes, groups of businesspeople in suits, and contingents from the Peruvian military. I took advantage of the distraction caused by the parade to sneak in some street portraits.
Parade on the Streets of Puno (Video)
I enjoyed the parade, but one day in Puno felt like enough. I bought a ticket to Cusco on a tourist bus leaving the next morning. That evening I climbed to the roof of my hotel for sunset photos, and I went back up again before dawn the next morning.