Peru - Leaving the Floating Islands for Taquile

Andrys Basten, photos taken 5/20/97

(*Click* on photos for enlarged ones.) (94k)                                                   (85k)     Getting ready to leave the Floating Island
From boat, alongside floating island

One of our guides is getting the small motor boat ready for the next 3 hours of our the trip to the island of Taquile. (We were later amazed to find none of us needed a 'rest'room during this time.)

To the right is a view from the docked boat, which is facing another, smaller, island with an interesting pagoda-shaped roof on one of the structures. To the left of the boat is one of the cane-reed huts of the island we're on.

Taquile Island in view On our way again(90k)

When we reached Taquile Island at approximately 2pm, we found ourselves encountering a rock stairway (to the top of the island , the only place with food and drink) which some have counted to be more than 500 uneven steps.
At 13,000 ft above sea level, young authors of guidebooks have considered it 'strenuous' or even 'grueling' in mid-day heat at that altitude, though trekkers will have an easier time. (Tip: some boat tours offer a back-way landing that avoids the stairs, but for me the views were worth it, though the other tour does at least come down that side of the island later in the day.) Also, a 4-hour boat ride without drinks (for those of us without the foresight to bring our own drinks) can leave one a bit less robust.

Even then, a first stop for most was, on an island with no electricity (one of its charms), the most primitive official restroom I've used. The door was half high, and I might include later a photo I took from the top of that half-door. The very dark interior held what seemed just a hole in the ground. I couldn't see, so don't remember.

The view even from the first portion of the steps was literally breathtakingly clear. (130k)
From the first portion of the steps

The little girl from the boat ride encourages me (I'm still lazily sitting) to start the walk up the 500 steps.

(Larger photo is 166k .) Little guide
Here, my little guide with the common sunburned cheeks shows the way to the famed stairway to the island's stars. Actually, many stay overnight, as guests in the homes of the islanders, precisely so that they can enjoy the stars in the unusually clear night there.

If you'd like to know more about the people of Taquile Island, here's a very interesting article, "Lost in Time, Isolated Peruvian Isle Clings to its Traditions," by Lynn Monahan. I've requested permission, from the newspaper whose search engine I used, to display the article.


Next ... The stone stairway of Taquile Island . . .

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