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© 2008 Mark Collins


Peru 2004 - Day 13, SS Yavari & Sillustani

Today was our last full day in Peru. After a leisurely breakfast and packing, we joined our party members for a visit to the SS Yavari, a Victorian steamship being restored nearby.  Then followed a trip to the Funerary Towers of Sillustani and a visit to a local farmer before a long wait at Julliaca Airport to return to Lima.

After breakfast I went outside into the hotel garden for some air with mum.  This herd of llamas was grazing beneath the terrace beside the lake where the flower below was growing.

 In 1861 the Peruvian Governement ordered two gunboats for Lake Titcaca from James Watt & Co. and the Thames Ironworks & Shipbuilding Co., England. The two ships were transported in crates by sea around Cape Horn to the port of Arica (then Peruvian), by train to Tucna and, over six years, by men and mules up the Andes to Puno on Lake Titicaca.

The Yavari was re-assembled and launched on Christmas Day 1870.  The Yapura, (now the BAP Puno) in 1873.  In 1887, following the War of the Pacific between Peru and Chile, the ships passed to the British Peruvian Corporation, which, in 1914, replaced the Yavari's original steam engine fired by dried llama dung, with the Swedish Bolinder engine in situ today. 

In 1975 the lake fleet of five ships was nationalised.  In 1987 the Yavari was acquired from the Peruvian Navy by the Anglo-Peruvian Associacion Yavari which is affiliated to the Yavari project in the UK.

SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTC

Since 1998 the Yavari has been recognised by the Institute of Culture as a Museum and open to visitors while work continues on restoring the vessel to sail again on Lake Titicaca.

We were met by Captain Carlos Saavedra who gave us a tour of his wonderful ship, obviously very proud of what had been achieved so far with the restoration project.

If you want to know more try the official website of the TAVARI PROJECT where there is a great deal of information about the ship and the lake.

SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTCSS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTC
Bolinder Engine, SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTCSS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTC
The aft deck, SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTCThe Wheelhouse, SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTC

Here we are with the Captain and Crew.
Group photo, SS Yavari, Puno, Peru - MTC
After our very enjoyable nautical diversion it was time for a quick snack and back on the bus for the trip to Sillustani.

Funerary Tower, Sillustani, Peru - MTCSillustani is an ancient burial ground near lake Titicaca, about 35 miles from the shore city of Puno.

It's about 13,500 ft above sea level, one of many sites in the Puno area that hold mysterious burial towers, called chullpas. Sillustani is perhaps the most impressive..

The tombs are built above the ground, and with much symbolism. The inside of the tombs are shaped like a woman’s uterus. The ancients who built them believed Mother Earth who created and regulated life. When a person died, they were mummified in the foetal position, just like they came into the world. The doors of the tombs face east, because it is believed that that is where the sun is born from the Mother Earth each day.

Dynamited tomb at Sillustani. Grave robbers often blew up these tombs looking for treasure. Notice the lizard carved into the stone. The lizard is a symbol of life because of its ability to re-grow it's tail.

The towers were built by the Colla people, Aymara speakers who were conquered by the Incas in the 1400's, and the towers were most likely used as burial chambers for the nobles of that culture.

Here are a couple of views from the site, with Lake Umayo in the background.

Carving on Funerary Tower, Sillustani, Peru - MTC
Mark at Sillustani, Peru - MTCLake Umayo, Sillustani, Peru - MTC

Sillustani, Peru - MTC
As in all the tourist attractions, the local people were here keen to earn a few Soles from the passing tourists.  What a sad little face on the boy!

Mother and son at Sillustani, Peru - MTC

Boy at Sillustani, Peru - MTC

Having re-boarded the coach, our guide, Gilbert, asked if we would like to visit a farmer in his little house, we of course said yes!

The farmer and his wife made us feel very welcome, and it was perhaps apt on our last day that we saw how real Peruvian people live away from the tourist hotels and restaurants.

The farmer's llama was outside looking very superior in his ear tassles!

Peruvians eat guinea pigs - here is their adobe home together with a picture of typical rural food which the Peruvians grow.

Tassled Llama,  Peru - MTC
Guinea Pigs, Peru - MTCTypical rural foodstuffs, Peru - MTC

The little mud hut was basic in the extreme. The outdoor kitchen was fuelled by dried llama dung.  Hygiene was not the highest priority - the lady cooking the potatoes was handling the dried dung one minute, the next fishing out the cooked potatoes with her fingers from the pot!  Mum tried a couple, obviously not too concerned about bugs!

The final picture is of our guide in mid talk with the farmer inside the house.

Farm cooking, Peru - MTC
Mud house, Peru - MTCInside the mud house, Peru - MTC