The next stop on our journey was supposed to be Puno, Peru on Lake Titicaca. B had missed this stop on his last trip and was keen to stop there on this trip and see the lake. There are two cities which are on the lake to visit, Copacabana on the Bolivia side and Puno on the Peruvian side, we had decided to visit Puno as you can visit the floating islands from there, and it was from there that we planned to take the Orient Express train up to Cusco.
On arrival at the bus station in La Paz, we were informed that the blockades which had previously been up due to strike action were back in effect and we would have to take a bus via Copacabana as that was the only company running busses at that time. We were assured that it was possible to get through to Puno this way and so bought a bus ticket for the next morning. The first part of the journey was uneventful, we had to take a ferry across a small part of the lake but it was smooth sailing otherwise.
Then we got to Copacabana (not the one from the song) a bit late and worried that we might miss our connecting bus. Now to worry we were informed, no busses were running and we would have to wait until the next day when we would need to take a 9 hour boat journey across the lake. We would also have to pay considerably more for said boat journey but as there was no choice we paid up and went to find a hotel in town for the night.
We had anticipated that there could be some issues and so had a list of possible hotels ready to go. We had them ranked and quickly found once that was nice, had a room available and took it. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the very small town and having lunch and mentally preparing ourselves for the next day when we would spend 9 hours on the water with no place to get food or drink.
Our day started early as we wanted to get to the bus stop early, we didn’t trust that they wouldn’t have oversold it and given us no choice but to stay an additional night in Copacabana. We were just eager to cross the border into Peru and ensure that we had enough time to make our way to Cusco for our Inca Trail booking and more importantly for the Orient Express train ride we had booked to take us there. The day started uneventfully enough with seats on a coach and an uneventful border crossing, however, after we got a taxi to the “dock” which was a generous name for the rocks sticking out into the lake, it became clear that that the leg which was oversold was the boat ride rather than the bus.
The scene was frantic with obviously more people there than there would be spaces on the boat, which meant that it was every person for themselves when trying to get a space on the small row boats which were rowing out to the main boats. We pushed ourselves to the front of the queue and stood out on the rocks, only to be told by a group returning in a half sunk row boat that both boats on the water were full. We got a bit nervous about our chances of actually getting anywhere that day but fortunately the lady we had bought our tickets from ensured that we all got out to the boats and had a seat inside.
Yet again there was something dodgy going on with the transport and while most of the people on the shore got onto the boat in the end, some were sitting on top and the boat was clearly overloaded. We embarked on our 9 hour journey where I finished the majority of The Corrections and ate a tube of pringles for lunch. This being the second or third day we spent with this delicacy as our lunch and although they used to be one of my favourite snacks, they started to get a bit old on this trip.
After night fall we were approaching the Puno harbour through the reeds and then suddenly stopped for another boat to pull up and take off the extra people from our boat as there were not enough life jackets on our boat… We finally disembarked the boat and made our way to the hotel we had previously booked before going out for a delicious pizza dinner that night.