I sadly left Bolivia and crossed the boarder into Peru……..

Headed for Puno, a touristy jump-off town for Lake Titicaca. Had a nice stroll around the local markets before heading to the islands the following day.

Took a cutie rickshaw (or equivalent) to the harbour………

then a boat ride and a visit to the Uros Reed Islands, where we learnt a bit about island life…….

…….and got to dress up in the local fashion…..

….something tells me this ain’t going to catch on at home. By the way those things plaited into my hair were REALLY heavy!!! First impressions of Lake Titicaca were all good……

We floated on to Amantani Island where we would be staying with local families. The altitude is quite high here and so the half hour trek to our houses was a little frightening bearing in mind the upcoming Inca Trail!! Anyway we got there in the end. Myself and Ruth stayed in this house…..

……..which was a few buildings, this was just the kichen and backyard.

Had some lunch cooked by our Island Mammy and Granny in their kitchen…….

which consisted of potato soup, then fried cheese (bleugh) potatoes, potatoes, rice oh and more potatoes!! Now being Irish I can handle my starch but this was insane, myself and Ruth were trying to decide how much we could leave on the plate without it being an insult!!

We headed off in the afternoon to learn life on the island. Farming an weaving are the main activities and we even got a spinning lesson which was much harder than it looks!!! 

See my new hat, my island Mammy knitted it for me – you’ll be able to pick me out of a crowd anyway :-) After work we got to play/watch some football with the locals. As I’m not most coordinated of folk, I settled for spectator status. Have to say it looked pretty challenging at high altitude, as is a walk up to the top of the island to watch sunset.

After dinner (more potatoes – starch overload) our Mammy gave us some traditional costume to dress in for an evening of dancing.

Dancing at 4000 metres above sea level and after eating a ton of potatoes is pretty difficult. Particularly to never-ending Peruvian songs! The costume was a bit of a killer too, top, shawl, petticoats and a sash which our Mammy tied for us – felt like wearing a corset – without the slimming effect!!! Really should have took off my fleece and jeans but it was bloody freezing!

I’m not sure how comfortable I was with the whole experience of staying with a local family, to be honest. It felt a little phoney at times. You know, the western tourist staying for the night. I guess it helps them out a lot but our family seemed to be a little bored of the whole thing. In fact the Dad literally only spoke to say hi and bye but it was interesting to see their way of life.

In the morning we headed off to Taquile island which was just beautiful.

Lots of long hills and steps – again Inca trails haunt me. The men do all the knitting on this island. They knit a hat which their give to their prospective father in law, who in turn pours water into it. If the hat leaks, the “son” has to start again!! He does get three attempts before he’s out though.

Headed back to Puno on the boat.

Sweeeeeeeeet I love boat trips when it’s sunny :-)

Headed to Cuzco which is a serious party town as it is the jump off spot for the Inca Trek so it’s generally full of nervous folks and those celebrating afterwards!! Some great clubs in Cuzco so we went to check out some salsa……..

……..which was all good, well at least for those who can do it – I just muddle along :-) Next morning we took a flight to Puerto Maldonado, and then a boat into the Amazon Jungle. Was seriously debating not going after the 80 mossie bite incident. I really toyed with it but eventually I decided that I couldn’t go to South America and not visit the Amazon.

So armed with two different types of mossie repellent, long sleeves, long pants and a hat with face net, I headed into the battle zone.

Started off with a lovely lunch of chicken, veggies and rice steamed in a banana leaf….

Yum!!! Heading off for a boat trip that night to see if we could find some caimans lurking around in the water. It was a little scary being out on the water at night, listening to the sounds of the Amazon…..

…….but we soon relaxed and watched the stars. Was almost asleep by the time we came back!!!

Next day we headed off into the jungle to see what we could find.

The jungle was hot and humid which was a change from the chilly altitude of late. Our guide was pretty good too and sported this machete………

……..to cut back the greenery, which was pretty unnecessary, I reckon he just had it for effect :-) Anyhoo we saw some interesting things, including this tarantula……

……who was sleeping soundly in a tree until the guide poked him outta there. Very impressed I must say, he was an aggressive little fecker too!! Simon and Julie actually found one in their room that morning!!! That’s a bit close for comfort!!

Anyone who knows me will have heard me talking about my wish to be on Survivor (tv show) so I got a chance to prove I could do the gross eating challenge!! I ate one of those live white grubs (like a slug basically) Didn’t taste too bad to be honest – kinda like very mild coconut milk. He wasn’t too rubbery either and apparently very nutritious :-) Didn’t get a photo because I ate him too quick but he looked pretty much like one of these……..

Climbed up to an observation platform which gave nice views……

……..of the lake here. Took a little boat ride afterwards there too. We trekked on and then took another boat trip to Monkey Island. Those monkeys came straight over looking for bananas….

……they are certainly not shy!! This guy was a little scary too with his fangs!!! He was the boss around these parts too. I was glad I made the decision to see the Amazon, got play Tarzan for a while and stayed in a great place……..

……..saw some wildlife and amazing trees some of which were 500 years old!! Had a good chillax (well as much as I’m capable of).

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616343162661/  and  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157616380501967/