Puno, Peru

We spent several days exploring Puno, which is a port city on Lago Titicaca. Our first explorations took us to the port area, where there were many small tour boats tied up. From there we followed the Malecon around and back almost to the port. There we spent some time watching workers remove a green plant growth from the surface of the lake. We only noticed the green growth near to Puno and to a much lesser extent around the floating islands and none at all in the open lake.

Another day we visited the Naval museum and the old steamship (now museum) Yavari. The Naval Museum is very small but covers the history of boats on the lake from the indigenous reed boats through wooden Spanish sailing ships and then into the era steam ships. The steamships were carried in pieces, by burro up to the lake and re-assembled there. The first was a US-built combination sail and steam boat. It was followed by Yavari and her sistership in 1870; it took six years to move all the parts from the Pacific coast up to the Lake. These two ships were followed by a series of ever more modern transit vessels but the Yavari continued to transport goods until 1982. Her sister ship is still active today as the Peruvian Navy’s hospital ship.

We took a bicycle cab to the Yavari and were given a wonderful tour of the nicely restored ship. It had been left to decay for years before an English women purchased it for scrap cost and began the work of restoration. Today it is in working order again, but no longer is run by steam as it had been converted to diesel during its working years. That old diesel engine has been restored to working order and they take it out onto the lake occasionally. The metal of the hull was found to be in good condition because of the fresh cold water that it had been resting in. The restorers have even managed to recover the compass and other parts from a museum in Lima. As we were leaving we met and visited with the current captain. Check out www.yavari.org