Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   South America (
-   -   Puno, Lake Titicaca & Islands/Sleep on island with family? (

JanetteC Jul 10th, 2011 08:54 PM

Puno, Lake Titicaca & Islands/Sleep on island with family?

My husband and I will be visiting Peru in about 2 weeks. We will be starting at Cuzco, making our way through the Sacred Valley, visiting Machu Picchu and then we are taking the Inka Express to Puno. We pretty much have everything ready - hotels booked, train tickets, bus reserved and a guide for 2 days while we are in the Sacred Valley. However, I have some questions about our time in Puno & Lake Titicaca. We arrive by bus around 4/5 pm. As of now, we are checking in to Hotel Intiqa that night and taking a full-day tour of Lake Titicaca, the Uros and Taquile Island the next day. We will be resting in the same hotel in Puno and flying to Lima the following morning.

We would really love to stay on Taquile Island with a family. Our questions are: Should we sleep on Taquile Island the very same night we arrive to Puno? Are there boats available to take us to Taquile Island after we arrive at 4/5pm to Puno? Is it worth it? Our other option would be sleeping in the hotel our first night and on the island our second night. BUT, our flight to Lima leaves at 11:15 in the morning from Juliaca. Will we have enough time to make it to the airport if we wake up on the island that morning?

It feels a little complicated for us to do this. However, we will probably only visit Puno this one time and we want to make the most out of it. We don't want to have any regrets or feel like we "should have" done something. PLEASE HELP!

Thank you!

Also, is it best to reserve the full-day tour of the islands in advance or when we arrive? Is it best to travel in a tradional boat for the experience, or by speed boat to make the most of the day? Thanks

crellston Jul 10th, 2011 11:54 PM

Personally, I would go with your first plan and stay in a hotel in Puno both nights. Puno is by far the highest place you will visit on your trip and it is highly likely you will be affected by the altitude even if it has not been a problem elsewhere. We had been in Peru at varying altitudes for a couple of months before we visited Puno and still noticed the increased altitude. We had intended to stay overnight but my wife got affected quite badly on our trek around the island (sickness, dizzyness headaches etc.) So we returned to Puno for the night. if you are affected, the last place you would want to be would be on the island.

I really would not recommend trying to get a boat to the island on your first night (even if there are boats available) you will arrive in Puno late afternoon and the bus station is renowned for scams so best to arrange for you hotel to collect you if poss. I really would not want to arrive and sort out a boat and then arrive on the island in the dark.

The Inka Express is a great choice as there is a lot to see along the way plus you even get a decent lunch included!

We booked our trip online in advance and, as you are only there for one full day it is probably best to get things sorted out beforehand (that said here are dozens of operators in Puno so it won't be too hard to do it on arrival. In fact you could even just turn up at the dock and grab a trip there (it does help if you speak basic Spanish though!)

I am not sure what you mean by "traditional" boat - if it is one of the straw boats then no, go for the "speedboat" option you will get the opportunity of a straw boat trip at Uros.

Here is a link to our blog entry with some photos and a bit more info;

Have fun it is a great part of the world (I wish I was going back!)
Entry #

JBX Jul 11th, 2011 05:30 AM

Agree that it'd be best to stay in hotel in Puno while visiting Lake Titicaca & islands. Especially if you've never experienced that altitude .. (just over 12,000 ft). I was okay in Cusco, albeit walking a bit slow ...... however when we got up to Puno, I really felt a difference, and that was my 1st time at that altitude.

As many of hotels have oxygen, I went downstairs to front desk after a restless night. They pulled out their O2 tank, and I sat in lobby having my "oxygen treatment" for about 15 minutes. Was significantly better after that. Then able to go on our planned daytrip to Uros & Taquile Islands. During our boat ride back, there was a young man in group, who didn't feel well at all ...... he was hurting, w/ bad headache. I was still feeling okay, whoever did elect to do another round of oxygen after dinner ..... want to ensure I'd be able to sleep that night (did so). Next morning, I was fine.

qwovadis Jul 11th, 2011 07:11 AM › ... › Peru › Lake Titicaca - Puno Hotels - CachedThis Amantani Inn offers an authentic Peruvian stay and of course Peruvian hospitality. The Kantuta Lodge is accessible by short boat ride

Might have a look at Kantuta really the nicest lots

close to Puno than Taquile several hours by boat

would be quite difficult to structure in the short time

you have but if

you decide to try to cram it in.

Personally Kantuta for me you will see Tqquile on your

tour just not stay there.

Cusco is 11000 ft you should be pretty adjusted to altitude

although everyone huffs and puffs some climbing all the steps

on Taquile... beautiful though views to forever so worth it.

Happy deciding,

Eschew Jul 13th, 2011 03:21 PM

Please excuse my ignorance, is Puno the ighest point? even higher than Machu Picchu? I was told we will be somewhere around 13,000 ft at the highest point on our Peru trip but don't know where. We are also taking a small plane charter flying over teh Nazca lines. Anything I should prepare for?

JanetteC Jul 13th, 2011 09:10 PM

Thank you all for your input. I think we have decided to stick with your advice - stay in our hotel in Puno just to be safe. It makes more sense with the time we have. We also don't know what to expect as far as altitude sickness. To be honest, I think I have read too many stories about people getting sick on their trip and it's really beginning to frighten me. As much as one can prepare, I guess you just don't know how you will react. We are hydrating ourselves already, we are young and pretty fit (or I'd like to think we are)... any other suggestions as to how to prepare for the altitude change?

We are looking forward to our trip to Peru! Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts and opinions.

crellston Jul 13th, 2011 11:27 PM

The best way to prepare for altitude is to ascend gradually. In your case this means flying into Cusco and going straight to the SV, which is at a slightly lower altitude, and then returning to Cusco.

Apart from this, keep well hydrated, and avoid alochol and heavy meals at least initially. Also avoid exerting yourselves too much on arrival until your body gets used to the lack of oxygen. If displaying symptoms of AMS (as opposed to breathlessness, headache etc. that most people get) then it is essential to descend to a lower altitude immediately.

Some take diamox but do take medical advice before travel and be aware it does not work for everyone. Coca tea is the local remedy which is pleasnt and does help a little. On our trek we chewed coca leaves on the high passes which helped a lot.

Most people will experience some level of discomfort but very few will go on to get AMS but it does occassionally happen. Taking precautions is sensible but I really would not let it worry you too much. Age sex and fitness are no guide to who will or wont be affected.

Take care and you will be well rewarded by experiencing one of the more amazing areas on the planet.

JBX Jul 14th, 2011 08:21 PM


Yes, Puno / Lake Titicaca are HIGHER than Machu Picchu. MP is at 8K, an elevation that is usually okay for most people. It's when you get to Cusco (about 11K) that you may feel impact of higher altitude ... i.e. take it easy, walk a bit slower, drink coca tea and/or chew leaves. Finally, Puno - Lake Titicaca may be your highest point at about 12.5K. And as prior poster stated, whether someone experiences altitude issues has little to do with age or fitness level ...... simply, some will have more difficulty than others.

Really no way to know until you are at altitude, of

JBX Jul 14th, 2011 08:38 PM

Ooops, hit submit too soon.
Also, you may see some people suggest taking diamox ..... it's a med that works for some, however has potential side effects. Because I have asthma, I did discuss taking diamox with my Dr. Decided the 'risk/benefit' ratio wasn't worth it ........ and as I've already related, I did have issue in Puno but was able to deal with it (oxygen).

For others (like rest of world), here's approx altitudes in meters:
-- Machu Picchu -- 2420 meters (8,000 ft)
-- Cusco --- 3300 meters (11,000 ft)
-- Puno/Lake Titicaca - 3850 meters (12,500 ft)

mlgb Jul 15th, 2011 02:37 PM

And actually, the town of Aguas Calientes where most people overnight while visiting Machu Picchu is 2,040 meters (6,700 feet), even lower.

By bus or train you will travel over a pass at or exceeding 14,000 feet, which is when many people really start to feel ill.

If you are hiking the Inca Trail, the Dead Woman's Pass is at about this same altitude (just a hair under 14k).

JBX Jul 16th, 2011 04:34 PM


Since you'll be leaving for your trip next week (?), wanted to point out recent change within the grounds of MP ..... 'Huanu Picchu' now has fee for access, if you'd planned to hike up that peak. Here's info as discussed in another thread .....

Increased admission if you want to hike Huayna Picchu ---

JanetteC Jul 17th, 2011 04:35 PM

Thanks. I was under the impression I could only buy the entrance tickets to MP in Aguas Calientes. This information is very helpful.

We are interested in hiking Huayna Picchu. I am sure MP gets more and more crowded later in the morning. We plan to catch the first bus and be there very early. We should probably explore MP before the crowds get there (although I am sure many people have the same plan) and then hike Huayna Picchu.

There are two scheduled times to hike Huayna Picchu: 7:00 - 8:00 am and 10:00 - 11:00 am. I am not sure which time to reserve but I am leaning more towards 10-11:00 am. Any suggestions?

And for the record, I would hate to be Jim Carey and not be able to enjoy one of the world's greatest wonders in peace.

Thanks again!

Axel2DP Jul 17th, 2011 05:52 PM

If it's a sunny day then hiking up HP at around 10-11 am time could get kind of hot.

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:18 AM.