1. Taquile Island is about an hour and a half boat ride from Puno. Because the weather was nice and the island is on Titicaca Lake, the boat ride was pretty smooth. I was told that when the weather gets bad (which it did later in the afternoon) the lake can get choppy and there have been boats that had to stay the night on the island waiting for the weather to pass. This is not meant to deter you at all, just something to be aware of when you plan your trip. You can choose to ride inside the boat (which has the same layout as a train car) or you can ride outside on the upper deck. It was cold the day I took the trip and the sun is super strong at that elevation, so I chose to ride inside the boat.
2. When you get to the island as part of a tour you will be given a choice to stay in the boat or hike up the island for lunch. Here's what they don't tell you:
- If you stay on the boat you will be there about 2 hours. The boat docks to let the hiking passengers off, then continues to another part of the island. A few older people on the tour were upset that they were not told that the boat will move to a new location. Had they known there would still be sights to see from the boat they would not have done the hike.
- The hike was intense and long. I hiked up the island with 3 girls in their 20's who seemed to be in decent shape and even they struggled at a few points. The path we took up the island was the longer path that was less steep. There is a second path, the path we took down, that was extremely steep. I would have been nervous about going down if it had been raining. And truth be told I'm not sure I could have made it up that path due to the sharp incline. Moving at a very slow pace, the hike up took about 40 minutes. The steep hike down took about 10-15 minutes.
This is the beginning of the hike. The part you can see lasted about 10 minutes. Past the gate at the top of the hill the incline becomes steeper.
Here I am thinking I reached the gate and it was almost over. I had a surprise in store!
Past the gate. No end in sight!
3. At the end of the intense hike we were brought to an outdoor picnic table for lunch. Lunch is included in the tour. We were given the choice of trout, omelette, or just veggies. The first course was soup that was served family style. The second course was your choice and it looked like this:
4. While we ate, some of the local people came out and put on a show that consisted of weaving practices, traditional dances, and explanations about their culture. One cultural fact that I found interesting was trial marriage. A couple can enter into a trial marriage for 4 years. During that time either person is allowed to bow out. There is one stipulation: if a pregnancy occurs during the trial period then the trial ends and the couple is married for life. Made me wonder what they use for birth control lol.
5. After lunch is the steep hike down to the boat. The area is beautiful so at least there was a view to distract from pain in my knees from the steep decline.
6. A note of caution about the weather- I visited in January which is rainy season. The mornings in Puno tend to be clear and sunny with an afternoon rain shower beginning around 3pm. In order to avoid the weather or any choppiness on the lake, I suggest you take the earliest tour you can find.
Have you been to Taquile? What was your favorite part?