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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Peru Vacation Day 7: Taquile Island

Taquile is a rocky island in Lake Titicaca that lies about 40 km offshore from Puno. It is about halfway between Puno and the international border between Peru and Bolivia that runs through the middle of Lake Titicaca.

Taquile is about 6 km long by 1.5 km wide. The maximum elevation on the island is 4,050 meters above sea level (which is about 230 meters above the surface of Lake Titicaca). The southern end of the island has some sandy beaches, but the rest of the island has rocky shores. The orientation map of the island below shows its location with respect to Puno, and Puno Bay.
Taquile orientation map Taquile island is located at the mouse cursor on this orientation map.

The island has two docks, one on the eastern side and one on the western side of the island. We rounded the northern end of the island and docked at the eastern dock. Passengers were expected to climb a long trail to the village of Taquile (at 3,950 meters elevation), and then climb down 530 steps to the western dock at the end of their visit for their ride back to Puno. The boat ride from Uros to Taquile took about two and a half hours. We reached Taquile around 11:30 AM.

TaquileƱos are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, which are regarded as among the highest-quality handicrafts in Peru. In 2005, "Taquile and its Textile Art" were honored by being proclaimed "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO. Here are some photographs from Taquile for your enjoyment.

Top deck of tour boatThis is a view from the top deck of the boat as we left the Uros Islands behind. Our boat was the first to leave the Uros Islands, so you can see the rest of the boats in our wake.

Tour boat with Peruvian and Bolivian flagsOur boat sported flags of both Peru and Bolivia (just to be safe, I guess), though it probably never crossed the border into Bolivia for any reason!

Capa Chica and Oyuyo peninsulas, lake TiticacaA view of the peninsulas that enclose the bay of Lake Titicaca that Puno is located on. The one of the left (that direction is north) is the Capa Chica peninsula. The one on the right is the Oyuyo peninsula. Our tour guide liked to refer to them as the Qechua and Aymara peninsulas respectively.

Lighthouse on Oyuyo PeninsulaA view of the lighthouse on the Oyuyo peninsula as we passed it on our way out to Taquile.

Taquile island viewView of the Western side of Taquile Island. Our boat rounded the left corner of the island (the northern end), and docked on the opposite side of the island, at the dock on the eastern side of the island.

Eastern dock of Taquile islandView of the eastern dock of the island. We had to clamber over multiple boats to get from our boat to terra firma.

Welcome to TaquileWelcome sign on the eastern dock.

Sheep on trail to Taquile main squareSome sheep on the trail up to the village main square.

Trail from eastern dock to main squareA panoramic view of the trail up to the village main square. Taquile, interestingly, has no vehicles at all because of the steep rocky trails and the lack of flat roads.

Main square of TaquileA view of the main square of Taquile.

Distance signs in Taquile main squareDistance signs showing distance and direction from Taquile to various cities around the world.

View of lake from main squareView of the lake from the main square.

Spinner in main squareA taquileno spinning yarn in the main square. Most taquilenos spin and knit fabrics to earn their living. We bought some locally made scarves and shawls at Taquile. Taquilenos do not like to bargain, so we paid pretty much the price we were quoted to get the merchandise. Some persuasive shoppers in our tour group succeeded in getting 10% discounts on their purchases!

Narrow alley on Taquile islandOne of many narrow, uneven alleys on Taquile island. Because of the surface and narrowness of alleys like these, all transportation on the island is on foot, with no vehicles of any sort.

Arch on Taquile islandArches like these are very common throughout Taquile.

Live music during lunch on Taquile islandOur tour group had lunch on the island. The restaurants are not real restaurants with menus, but just home-based businesses that serve tourists. Tour guides are told which restaurant they have to take their tourists to, and the restaurant selections are rotated so that one restaurant does not get all the business at the expense of another. The only choices for lunch at this restaurant were a vegetable omelet or a fish dish. We were told about these choices the previous day, and since we did not like either of the choices we chose to bring our lunch of bread and fruits rather than eating with the tour group. The lunch is not included in the tour, and tourists had to pay 20 soles per head to have lunch.

Steps down to western dockAfter lunch, we made our way to the western part of the island where we had to climb down these steps to reach the western dock of the island. There are 530 steps down to the dock from the top. Some tour groups started their tour on this side of the island and ended up on the eastern docks, forcing their tourists to climb up these steps rather than climbing up a sloping trail.

Western dock of TaquileA view of the western dock from the steps above it.

View of Taquile from western dockA view of the western side of Taquile island, including the steps leading down to the dock, from the dock itself.

View of Taquile as we leftAnother view of Taquile, right after we left the dock, headed back to Puno. The trip back to Puno took two hours and 20 minutes (we left Taquile at about 2:30 PM and reached Puno just before 5:00 PM). On the way back, we used the main shipping channel leading to Puno's port rather than going via the Uros Islands.

Lake Titicaca pleasure boatersFamilies paddling around in the shallow waters of Lake Titicaca in pleasure pedal-boats near the Puno dock.

We reached our hotel around 6 PM on this day. We spent some time visiting the main square of Puno, and did some shopping for souvenirs. There is a large pedestrian, open-air mall of sorts next to the main square of Puno (which itself was just a couple of blocks from our hotel, La Hacienda) with lots of stores selling souvenirs to tourists.
La Hacienda hotel orientation mapOrientation map showing the location of our hotel in Puno. Notice its proximity to the Plaza De Armas, which is also filled with tourist-oriented stores selling all kinds of souvenirs.

Plaza de armas, Puno, PeruMain square (Plaza de Armas) of Puno. The Puno cathedral dominates the main square of Puno.

Pedestrian mall near main square of PunoThe pedestrian mall near the main square of Puno.

Hotel spiral staircaseOur hotel was a six-story structure with the restaurant on the 6th floor. This is a view down the hotel's spiral staircase from the 6th floor.

Hotel lobbyView of a part of the main lobby of the hotel, with flasks of hot water and coca leaves provided for guests to make their own coca tea. We used the hot water to make hot chocolate on the two days we stayed at this hotel.

After dinner, we packed up and went to bed early. The next day, we were supposed to leave the hotel at 7 AM and take a bus back up to Cusco. More on that trip in the posts to come!

1 comment:

Terence said...

Peru vacation is a remarkable one with lots of adventurous experience. Taquile Island is a beautiful island with sandy beaches and rocky shores. The more interesting is the hotel Lima Peru where we can enjoy the beauty of island with delicious dishes.

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