Peru: Fraud and mass tourism in Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca

Wwould believe that the place Copacabana on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia was named after the homonymous beach in Rio de Janeiro. At least the perfect scythe is common on both beaches. Otherwise, Titicaca beach does not invite you to swim. The water is cold, the sand is not very clean.

Instead, you should take a boat tour of the Isla del Sol. If you get on board early, you can still get one of the coveted places on the upper deck. And if you have time, you should spend at least one night on the island to explore the hiking trails and immerse yourself in the life of the locals. It’s an idyllic conclusion to my experience in Bolivia as I continue in Peru.

The border crossing is about a 15-minute bus ride from Copacabana. About 50 travelers have to be on a list of people, which in itself takes almost an hour in the case of my bus – I suspect: It’s also loose on the border with Peru.

Initially, a team of two professional doctors removes all vaccination certificate data in writing. Then continue one by one and one after the other to fill in the paper and finally in the passport control. In total, the process takes three hours before I can enter Peru.

It all has to do with the sale

Then take the same bus to Puno, the largest city on Lake Titicaca. Before traveling to South America, I wondered which country was worth seeing more: Peru or Bolivia? And how the two are different. A couple of Spaniards I met in Uyuni summed it up: “Peru is like Bolivia plus tourism.” Now I can confirm: This is true. With all the negative effects.

At first glance, there are a few differences in terms of landscape and culture. In rural areas, Peru sometimes seems even less developed than Bolivia, which is often cited as the poorest country in Latin America. But tourism is ubiquitous in Peru. Or to put it another way: mass tourism is back.

The reed islands are inhabited and fascinating. But it all has to do with business

Source: Martin Lewicki

Puno example. The place has a great attraction to offer: the Islas de los Uros. These are small, cleverly built reed islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Each island hosts some Uru families.

At first glance it looks like a floating village. But an initially indigenous experience does not arise there. Probably the whole Disneyland character. The reed islands also have to do with selling souvenirs, booking another boat trip, collecting music-making tips and encouraging tourists to eat at the hotel. Only when you ignore all this can you still recognize and enjoy a little unique culture.

Flash inflation when cleaning shoes

From Puno we continue to Cusco. Almost all travelers who have been there have been thrilled with the city. Apparently they forgot to mention that it was The Peru tourist hotspot. This is not only because of the picturesque city itself, but also because it is the starting point to visit Machu Picchu.

Ever since I was on a world tour, Corona has taken mass tourism to many places. It’s a long way back to Cusco – I feel like the most touristy place I’ve visited in the last two years. In every corner you are surrounded by tourist collectors.

For example in the Plaza de Armas, which is actually one of the most beautiful squares in Latin America. You can hardly enjoy it. Every few seconds you ask if you want to buy a photo, a piece of jewelry or something knitted. When shoe polish is advertised for “solo un sol”, in English “only 25 cents”, I finally agree.

Cusco is a fascinating city - if one is not constantly trying to sell you something

Cusco is a fascinating city – if one is not constantly trying to sell you something

Source: picture alliance / NurPhoto

First a brush is used, but a little later he pulls out a cleaning spray and says something about intensive cleaning and impregnation. Without being asked, he starts with the “intensive” cleaning of my shoes, which have worn out from hiking. By the way, he suddenly talks about 25 soles.

Please what? This is equivalent to 6.30 euros. So in a matter of seconds, the price increased twenty-five times without my consent. A wonderful trick. Now the trading begins. I end up paying 10 soles, which is ten times more than I was fascinated by the man. You never stop learning when you travel. After all, the shoes look like new afterwards.

Walking glove

Even walking in the Plaza de Armas is like running a glove. The short distance between Plaza San Blas and Plaza San Francisco offers me a massage more than 20 times. In addition, drugs, prostitutes and excursions are offered. I have not experienced anything like this for a long time.

But there are also places in Cusco that are more relaxed. For example in Mirador de San Blas. The view from here is magnificent and you can also enjoy your food and drink in one of the many bars without being disturbed. Even the walk is still fun here in the bohemian district of San Blas, because there are almost no tourist traps here.

Now I just need to learn how to get cheap Machu Picchu, the biggest tourist outbreak, forgive me: the biggest tourist attraction in Peru.

Read more about the One Way Ticket world tour series here. The column appears every two weeks.

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