I am not the most social of people, so I was hesitant about the homestay idea. If not done well, these can seem a little overly voyeuristic to me. But there’s no other way of spending the night actually out on Lake Titicaca, and we wanted to have a bit more immersive experience.
Thankfully, on the section of Amantani Island we visited, the homestays are a bit more like “guesthouses with a purpose.” There are individually-accessed rooms, a common dining area and a desire on the part of the owners to involve you as much as you’d like to be involved. You are welcome in the kitchen, to enjoy the grounds, explore the island on your own, or interact with the kids while the food is prepared. I was able to strike exactly the balance an introvert like myself might prefer.
After dinner, our guide took us on a nice hike to the top of the mountain on Amantani Island. Here sit two dualing peaks – Pachatata (“Father Earth”) and Pachamama (“Mother Earth”). The views from here are unrivaled. One can look west, back to the Peruvian countryside, Puno, Juliaca and the mountains in the distance. Or turn east and see the snow-covered high peaks of the Cordillera Real in Bolivia. Add to this the colors of a dramatic sunset, and it’s pretty amazing!
There were forty or so other travelers at the top of the peak with us, and they all left in a giant pack the moment the sun dipped below the horizon. But if my grandfather taught me anything, it was that the best part of a sunset can often happen after the sun disappears, so we stuck around. With the colors on those distant Bolivian peaks, the dramatic clouds back toward Peru, and the now near-silence at the top of the hill, it made for some of the best 30 minutes of our whole 2-week trip.