Monday, 14 July 2014


By Mark

We left La Paz thi______________________________________________________________________________________________________________nking it would be an easy ride to Puno in Peru. Well it was easy except for the slight detour we took trying to find our way out of El Alto! What should have been an easy exit from the city ended up being a right pain in the arse. I have become much better and relaxed riding in large cities but when there is not a single street sign and road signs for directions I tend to become a little pissed off and sadly that’s how I ended up. Not the best ending to our awesome time in Bolivia. After riding around the city for a while and with the help from some locals we were back on track.

The ride across to the border was not so bad, not a lot of traffic but had the same usual landscape that the Altiplano offers. We arrived at the border town of Desaguadero around lunch time and were happy to find the customs office empty which meant a nice quick and easy exit from Bolivia. Luckily also for us the Peru border was just the same. Just before we took off I got talking to a guy from Ecuador warning me about the corrupt police in Peru, just what we need. So with this in mind we hit the road and one of the first things we noticed was the large police presence on the roads but all the way to Puno we were not pulled over once. I think it may have just been friendly rivalry between neighbouring countries.

Arriving in Puno we were taken back not in a good way, we thought to ourselves that we should just keep going but we were here for one thing and that was to head to the floating islands otherwise known as The Uros. We had heard how touristy it was here so we decided to head to the islands independently. It was also a cheaper option and we thought doing it this way would give us a better insight to the islands. Boy were we wrong! As soon as we got off the boat we were greeted by some locals, or so we thought who gave us a low down on island life, how they make the islands and the up keep. We were then taken into one young lady's home and showed their basic and simple home being all of one room, smaller than most peoples bedrooms! Then the sale pitch of selling goods to fund their way of living which we accepted and jumped in and bought something. Next thing we know we are being whizzed off onto a small traditional boat to be shown around the islands but without the opportunity of getting off until we get to the "capital" which has a hostel, post office and restaurants. Sadly this is where we then have to spend the majority of our time until our boat departs back to Puno. We wandered round until it was time to leave feeling a little put off by the whole experience. Maybe if we took more time to look into things we could have had a better experience and have found a more traditional island that is not built solely around tourism. The most hilarious/weird part was when the women started singing the famous pop song "Vamos a la Playa"! All things aside it was still interesting to check it out.

After our lack lustre experience of the floating islands we were hoping for greater things in Cusco, but we had one more stop along the way. Aguas Calientes, was to be our first experience of thermal hot springs since being in South America. On the road from Puno, Sanne had the lucky experience of having rocks thrown at her as she passed by, not being the first time we had experienced this in Peru, Sanne was having none of it and turned around to abuse the young boy, the young kid looked like he had no idea what was going on, I sat back watching it all thinking of the time I did the same thing all the way back in Turkey! After a right good bollocking we took off for the Thermals. The location of these thermals also happens to be the place of the smallest volcano in the world, quite a novelty! We decided we would camp the night since it was so cheap, if only we had had some hindsight as to how cold it was going to be. At least the water was warm, in fact it was hot and so good to have a dip on a cold afternoon.  At 4000m it was already cold when the afternoon sun was fading so we made the most of it. There was also a makeshift steam room that we tried out and was happy to be inside out of the cold wind. After a relaxing swim and steam bath we were hit with the reality of the coldness outside.
I cooked dinner quickly and we jumped into the tent to warm up. As the time passed it got colder and colder until Sanne had had enough and went into the Hostel and took a big thick blanket to keep us warm. Luckily we had this, early in the morning it was bitterly cold inside the tent and we were both looking forward to the sun rising and to get back into the thermal pools. When we did get up the entire tent was white, including the bikes and grass from a large frost that night. We were both not keen to camp at 4000m again anytime soon.

After another dip we hit the road for Cusco and the closer we got the worse the traffic became. We both now have quite a hatred for Peruvian drivers and their utter lack of responsibility on the road and for their obvious dislike of motorcyclists!
We found a great hostel to stay in Cusco, Hostel Estrellita, which had been recommended by many a motorbiker, and we went out and hit the streets. Straight away we noticed the huge amount of tourists here, well it is the gateway to Machu Pichu afterall. The historical centre of the city is quite nice with great architecture and a never ending supply of churches to visit. As you walk around the city you can still see the remains of many Inka ruins along with many buildings with footings from Inka times. There are so  many ruins to visit but all at a cost. Either a very large entrance fee or you can buy a ten day ticket that allows you into many ruins. After so much sight seeing of late we just stuck to doing what we could for free, which consisted of a lot of walking. I never really had a good feeling for the city, way too touristy, but was happy to come and visit all the same. We did have other intentions by coming here and that was to try and find parts for the bikes, well we lucked out here. Nothing in Cusco or Lima! We now need to plan ahead to see what we can do. Next Stop, Machu Pichu! 

Our first stop on the Uros islands

Even though there are some motorised boats out here, many people still get around by row boat

The home in the middle is the traditional style with the two others the more modern style 

Our lovely host talking to us about the islands

This young lady took us into her very basic home

We also got a fairwell song as we sailed off

You can see here the depth of the reeds that keep the island floating

Drying reeds before adding a new layer on top of another island, this needs to be done every 2 weeks!

Tradition meets modern technology

 View of the floating islands with the city of Puno in the background

A beautiful Peruvian day on Lago titicaca

Sanne made me do it!

Sanne sitting on top of the smallest volcano in the world, Aguas Calientes

And here's the crater...

Oh the joy of warming up in the thermal baths after a cold night in the tent

In Cusco

The workmanship of the Inkas is incredible

This is a 12 sided rock, doesn't look like much but when this work was done it was all by hand!

We were lucky to have another festival to check out in Cusco, with more colourful costumes similar to Bolivia

Shake them skirts

Roasted guinea pig anyone?

Plaza de Armas, Cusco

View over Cusco

Baby got back!

More Inka ruins in and around Cusco

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