We’ve just arrived at Puno (at nearly nine o’clock at night) after a long drive that began early in the morning in Cusco. We took several lengthy sightseeing breaks, and, anyway, the roads in this region of Peru are slow and only double-laned. Not exactly superhighways or the German Autobahn.
Moreover, we have an early start tomorrow morning. So my blogging may be limited tonight.
We stopped by several fascinating sites on which I’ll need to write something later, because I’m really tired right now. Among other places that we stepped out of the van was the mountain pass of Abra La Raya, which is 4335 meters above sea level, or roughly 14,223 feet. That makes it the highest place on earth that I’ve ever stood, except for the time, when I was a teenager, that I climbed Mt. Whitney, in California, which is the highest peak in the contiguous United States. It reaches 14,505 feet above the level of the sea. (Curiously, the lowest place in North America, Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, is just 84.6 miles to the east southeast of Mt. Whitney. Badwater Basin is 282 feet (or 86 meters) below sea level.
We’re now on the shore of the famous Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America. Mostly owned by Peru but shared with Bolivia, it may well be the highest navigable lake in the world, at 12,507 feet above sea level.
Plainly, people hoping to do this trip need to be prepared for high altitudes. Since leaving the Amazon rainforest, we’ve spent almost all of our time between about 8,000 feet above sea level and about 12,ooo or 12,500 feet.
Some who come here develop altitude sickness. I didn’t on my first brief trip to Peru, and I’m pleased to report that I haven’t on this visit, either. You definitely feel the altitude, though. Climbing a gentle hill or a couple of flights of steps can leave you feeling just a bit more winded than such exercise normally would. The air is thin here, but the night sky is absolutely beautiful with stars and planets and the Milky Way. The constellations are, of course, not those that we see in the northern hemisphere.
Posted from Puno, Peru