Monday, August 20, 2012

Journey of a Lifetime ( Part 9 ) - Traveling to Puno

We packed our suitcases and boarded the bus to our next destination... Lake Titicaca which was located in Puno, Peru. It was a 7 hour journey from Cusco to Puno.

We had stops on our way to Puno. The first one was Raqchi or Racchi. 

Racchi is 11,815 feet above sea level. Located at the base of the Quimsachata volcano. It is known for the remains of the temple of Wiracocha. The temple was massive and was about 300 feet long. The foundation for the wall was over 10 feet high. They are the remains of the foundations of 11 pillars on each side of the wall, and there are ruins of living quarters around the site.

According to Jesus, the most important building inside the complex was the "Wiracocha temple". It was built by the Inca Wiracocha in honour to the Superior God invisible for the Andean people: "Apu Kon Titi Wiracocha". 

Near the temple were rows of Inca homes and storehouses. This was where the rich people were housed. The entire complex was surrounded by a wall.  Outside the wall was where the poor and the workers lived. Little of this wall still survives today, it’s bricks were used by the people of the area to build their houses.

Our next stop was at La Raya.  It was the border dividing the regions of Cusco and Puno. At 14,500 feet above sea level, La Raya provided beautiful views of the Andes rising high above alpaca farms.

Finally, we reached our destination.... Puno. Puno is the capital and largest city of the Puno Region and Province in Southeastern Peru. It is also the capital of Peruvian folklore and headquarters of the Virgin of Candelaria festivity and rests on the shores of Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world. Puno is located at the edge of Lake Titicaca, 12,421 feet above sea level.

Puno's extreme elevation of 12,566 ft. was even higher than Cusco, so unless you've already spent time in the Andes, you'll almost certainly need to rest for at least a day to acclimatize. The city of Puno,  is a popular tourism and traveler's destination for a few reasons, the most obvious being the fact that it's located on the shore of the world famous and fascinating Lake Titicaca. The other reason is it offers relatively easy border crossing choices to Bolivia - which is just on the other side of the lake.

We proceeded to Royal Inn, our hotel and spent the rest of the day resting due to altitude sickness. I wasn’t feeling well when I arrived in Puno. In fact most of us in the group were feeling woozy because of the high altitude of La Raya, but I was in Puno for one reason, and not even illness could stop me from seeing what I traveled all the way there to see---- the fabled Uros floating islands. Before retiring to our rooms that evening, Jesus informed that that if we were having problems with our breathing there was oxygen available at the lobby.  I lined up together with the rest of the group to have a whiff of oxygen.

He gave us tips on how to overcome altitude sickness... let me share them with you..

Tips for High Altitude sickness:

* Try to lie down at least an hour when you arrive.
* Walk and move slow and steady.
* Drink a lot of fluids like water, soups and coca tea. The reason for this, Jesus explains, is that our digestion is slower in high altitude.
* The first lunch or dinner when you arrive need to be light meals. Try to eat easily digested foods like rice, pasta, vegetables, chicken and fish.. No beef.
* Try to avoid drinking alcohol on the first day at least. Our body works twice as hard at higher altitude on digestion and consumption.
* Do not try to breath faster or slower. Let your breathing adjust naturally.
* If you feel dizzy, make sure you stop and sit down. Do not force yourself to move on.

To avoid stomach problems:

* always eat well cooked food.
* Do not eat raw vegetables ( salads ) or non-peeled fruits.
* Drink plenty water with meals.
* If you have diarrhea, stop drinking coca tea. Drink black tea instead.

It was a long ride to Puno and having altitude sickness will really make you feel worse.... I better get some rest tonight -- tomorrow we are going to Lake Titicaca and the Uros Floating Villages...


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  2. I am follower of this blog since 2008. I remember your article regarding National Palace Museum, Taipei. Anyway, this is journey of a life time is another awesome write up.