If you are traveling south through Peru, Puno will be the first city to expose you to Lake Titicaca, the “highest navigatable lake in the world” and all the islands that go along with it. The highlight is the very incredible floating islands (Islas Flotantes) on Lake Titicaca.
The altitude is 3,800 meters (12,500 feet).
Chance Of Hooking Up Rating: 1 out of 5 ?
The Uros people set up island shop on the lake to escape persecution from the Incans. Using reeds grown on the lake, they construct “land” by tossing reeds on top of a stack as old reeds rot below. This has to be the most extreme example of “Leave me alone” in the history of man. Chill two hour tours (one hour on the water) costs about $5 and takes you on a couple islands but you can usually see another one by asking. Take some fruit and snacks to give to the locals when you want to take a picture with them. Whatever you do, do not eat a reed if offered.
Go to one of several Ricos Cafe around the center for excellent baked goods.
For such a small town, the Lima pedestrian street off the main plaza is quite lively on weekdays. Restaurants, mostly pizzerias, are indistinguishable, so look for the Tourist Menu special to get a non rip-off price on a three coursed meal.
Several promoters will offer you free drink tickets outside of bars pumping American music. There doesn’t seem to be much activity inside.
Hostal Monterrey (Lima 441)
$10/night for single room. I’m tempted to call this place a dump but at least it has clean sheets and a great location. They have raised their price by 40% since being listed in Lonely Planet. Outside my room was a lonely stack of lumber.
Other Cities In Peru
If you're only going to visit only Peru then I recommend you get this guide, which is far more detailed than the continental guide above, with options that cater to a range of budgets instead of only the shoestring backpacking crowd. Also it gives more respectable treatment to small cities and towns that the larger guide breezes over with a paragraph or two.
South America On A Shoestring Guidebook
This is the guidebook that I used in my six month trip in South America. The maps are excellent, the information is complete and thorough, and the reviews are accurate, which is why it's often called "the bible" by many travelers. The only problem is that everyone else has this book so if you are the type of person that wants to hit the isolated small towns you will be disappointed. My advice is to use this book for its maps and information on getting from city to city, but talk to the locals and other travelers for those isolated gems that Lonely Planet for some reason didn't find worthy to include.
Spanish For Beginners
My copy of this book is so beat up and weathered it's disintegrating before my eyes. I took it with me to South America because I loved how it was organized in a logical way that kept me motivated to keep studying. Lessons start short and easy and increase in complexity as you tackle frustrating readings that help take you to the next level. The only downside of this book is that it was originally published in 1957 so some of the vocabulary is very dated. Still, you'll be hard-pressed to find a modern equivalent of this book whose teachings approach the same quality. Last time I checked you can grab a used copy from Amazon for less than a dollar.
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