Inside Look at Puno, Sillustani & Kayaking on Lake Titicaca with Yampu Tours
University of Vermont student and MEDLIFE volunteer, Ian McHale, shares his experience in Puno, Sillustani, and Uros during his last few days in Peru. Get an insider look on one of the most incredible parts of Peru in his account of his experience with Yampu below. Have you ever seen a sky so blue?
Oh My God!! As I Stepped off the plane in Juliaca, the sun hit my face and I was in pure joy and also shocked how warm it was!! Everyone told me it would be colder than Lima but the sun was shining and it was so warm. I had to get shorts right away because I only brought winter clothes. On the way to my hotel my tour guide gave me all the history of Juliaca and Puno.
I explored Puno and found a great place to eat. I got chips with guacamole and salsa. The chips were fresh baked and made in front of me in the wood oven. After some food I was on a mission to find some shorts as I packed for the cold cannot the warmth. I ended up being able to see all of Puno–all the shops and markets. I started feeling altitude sickness so I just took a break for the rest of the day and drank plenty of water.
I woke up early the next day to go Kayaking on Lake Titicaca! We kayaked out to the floating islands called Uros. There are 36 islands in total on the lake. Uros is not a natural floating island. The people of Uros use reeds and roots to make many small islands that make up Uros, with each one having its own name with around seven families on each one.
The islands are about about two to three meters thick of blocks of the roots of the reeds with Eucalyptus stakes inside them tied together. Then they lay the reeds on top in many different directions about three feet thick. The islands are floating in water 60-70 meters deep. They then build houses on them, the ancient stories are that the people would live on reed boats and then started creating the islands. Young children will sneak from their islands on small reed boats to meet up and have private time. They primarily eat fish, most of which is trout. They have to go to the mainland to get rest of their food but big reed boats also come around and deliver food. The government gave the islands solar energy so they can have light at night. The sun is so strong and feels so good. The water and sky are so blue and it’s amazing to be kayaking and being able to see the layers of the floating islands. I soaked up all the sun I could get- felt so good!
The lake was so peaceful and beautiful! I had such a blast kayaking.
Driving to the saltani the next day was amazing to see the high plains and the views of the lake. My tour guide was very nice and we talked in Spanish most of the time and she helped me with it so much. She explained that the flats used to be covered with Eucalyptus trees and you couldn’t see anything but trees during the colonial times. The trees were for the mines to mine silver and copper. There are now no more trees and you can see forever.
Sillustani, a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo, is a peninsula that sticks out in the lake. The peninsula is covered in tombs, fully constructed, re-constructed or never finished. The tombs, which are built above ground in tower-like structures are called chullpas. The chullpas are mainly for the leaders of the community. the Chullpas that were not finished, were not finished because during that time the Spanish conquered the Inca people.
One chullpa I saw was around 40 feet high. To build them the Inca people built ramps that encircled the chullpas to continue to build up higher and higher. The whole tour was absolutely amazing from all the amazing facts I learned to the tranquility of Sillustani and the Umayo lake. It was picturesque and I wish I could have stayed all day just taking in the vistas. Couldn’t have asked for a better last day in Peru!! Thank you Yampu Tours for sponsoring me throughout my internship and planning this amazing week of excursions!!
This summer has been absolutely unbelievable! I have been able to connect my Biology major and Community and International Development minor through my Summer Volunteer Affairs Internship with MEDLIFE and I was accepted into my Accelerated Masters of Public Health at the University of Vermont. I learned, experienced and grew so much more than I had ever expected and cannot wait to use my experiences throughout my courses, career and life. Again I want to thank Yampu Tours who have helped sponsor me and planned an amazing week of excursions for my last week in Peru.