So yesterday morning, we grin and bear it as the buses drive through the clogged Cuzco streets to an equally crowed airport for a 40 minute flight to Juliaca , the gateway airport to Puno and Lake Titicaca, our destination. We finally finish the flight and board a bus feeling fairly sick of this travel day. But then our local guide points out the railroad tracks and tells us that it is 12 hours over the Andes from Cusco by rail, and I start to feel better. And now we get to experience the largest navigable fresh water lake in the world.
A few more comments about getting here. As mentioned, this was a short flight to a slightly higher elevation. The lake sits at 12,500 feet above sea level and is the culmination of our gradual climb throughout this tour. The airport is an hour away in Juliaca, a city of 250,000, that sits on a broad, flat-prairie plane that stretches to Bolivia. The people trade with Bolivia, tend cattle and alpaca, or grow potatoes and lima beans. Puno, the gateway city to the lake, is an hour away on the first actual highway I have seen in Peru. It was only two lane but they charged a toll and are building two additional lanes. Imagine that…A real divided highway.
The pics above are Mrs Bear standing in front of the lake with Puno in the background. The other is the channel through the reeds the boats take from Puno to reach the deeper lake. More on the reeds tomorrow.