We were woken at 2.30am by an early morning call and were greeted by a rainy day. Dressed and packed we took the lift to the lobby where the rest of the party were already gathered. Picking up our breakfast box we boarded our coach to the airport.
Check-in procedure went like clockwork and we were soon sat in departures with around six other flights waiting for the gate to open, it was cramped but we had seats and WiFi to play on.
The flight to Juliaca took one hour and seventeen minutes and with plenty of leg room I managed to catch a few minutes of sleep. The view through the window as we flew down the length of the Andes was rugged and bleak. It is winter here so there was plenty of snow on the mountains and volcanoes. We aborted the first attempt at landing and had to go around again. It was a beautiful sunny day and not a cloud in the sky and on the second approach we touched wheels down.
Juliaca is a small airport with a very long runway set on a flat plain, surrounded by mountains which did not have snow on them and seemed quite green from a distance. The town itself is not large and you could see from the air, not very well-developed. Quite uninteresting from a tourists point of view. We were met by our Rep. after collecting our cases and escorted to a quite modern coach. The journey to our hotel in Puno took around an hour and a half, with two stops. First for bananas, essential for energy at altitude (?) and second to exchange cash.
The hotel Jose Antonio Puno, is situated alone on the opposite shore of the town of Puno some 6km away. You can see it from the town itself as it is an imposing white building easily visible against the mountainous backdrop. A lovely hotel with fabulous views of the lake, mountains and town. We had a balcony room facing the lake.
We chilled out on the balcony for a while, before I ventured down to the private jetty and took some photos.
We met our guide again at 1.45pm and as a party we drove into Puno for a city tour, First visiting the local vegetable market and then the illicit market that sells goods cheaply, smuggled in from Bolivia, just over the mountains. We moved on to an ancient archaeological site, situated in the oldest village in the area. Very interesting to see the intricate stonework set together with no gap at all. How did they do it? we saw our first Peruvian LLamas, what sweet faces, very stand-offish though and apparently don’t care for tourists.
We returned to the hotel just before sunset and I managed to grab some fine shots of the sun going down over the mountains and reflecting in Lake Titicaca. A sight well worth travelling for.
We ate well in the hotel restaurant and retired early as there is another wake up call coming tomorrow, 6.30am!