Photos by: Tina Umlauf
When I started thinking about my trip to Peru, I had this idea to go kiting on Lake Titicaca. The lake is quite special, it’s located between Peru and Bolivia at an altitude of 3810m above sea level. Since I had no idea how the altitude would affect the aerodynamics, I was wondering whether it would be possible. I thought I should give it a try!
I arrived at Puno, the major city on the Peruvian side of the lake, on Monday evening the 15th of February, 2016 with my cousin Boris, his girlfriend Claudia and my photographer friend Tina. We were tired from the long journey from Arequipa, so we went directly to sleep after dinner.
We got up at 9 o’clock in the morning and decided to walk down to the pier to get some information about the wind and to find some possible locations for kiting. Once there, we got in contact with our captain Hector, who was so friendly. He explained to us everything we needed to know about the wind conditions on the lake. As it turned out, the best wind was near the opening of the lagoon (see map).
Hector made an offer to take us there in his boat and to wait with us for the wind to pick up. The offer was quite good, but still we had to decide if trying from the shore of another village (Juli) would be better, so we left for breakfast and told Hector we would consider his offer.
During breakfast, we were studying the map on Windfinder and discussing the other options. In the end, we decided to accept Hector’s offer and we went to pack all the gear to get ready for the adventure.
We arrived late at the docks but, as Hector told us, the wind wouldn’t be strong enough until late afternoon. We found him chatting with his colleagues at the pier and we closed the deal. Just before we got started, the port police and some officials made a scene because they thought we might be heading toward “Isla de Los Uros” which is an island reserve. So, after denying their suspicions, we finally took off.
It was just beautiful! The sun was low and the horizon was covered in high cumulus clouds, the perfect set. But, there was just a light breeze, not nearly enough to kite. Hector told us not to worry, he pointed to some darker clouds over the southern shore and said that as soon as the weather changed the wind would pick up. So, we waited and enjoyed the afternoon on the boat. Suddenly, the wind picked up a bit. I decided it was time to set up the kites and get ready for the cold water.
I had never kited from a boat. Running my lines on a 7m boat was not that easy, actually, it was quite a mess! There was also no place for the 13.5 m2 kite, so I had to throw it overboard and pump it in mid-air.
I let go of the kite and let it drift away to tension the lines and launch my kite. Once the kite was in the air, I felt how gusty the wind was. It was probably blowing around 13 knots, but it was very unstable. Also, Hector told us we should hurry because the wind would not last long! Therefore, I grabbed my board, put it on the edge of the boat, stepped into the straps and jumped off. The wind was light, so after launching, I couldn’t create enough power to float and I sunk in a bit until I looped my kite into gear. Finally, I was kiting! I cut through the water and felt so stoked to finally kite on this awesome lake.
It felt like an eternity but it was actually a really short session. After only about 2 minutes the wind died and I had to be picked up by the boat. Anyway, it was worth the effort, I conquered the lake!
By the time I was back on deck, it was already getting dark and the boat was shaking wildly on the unsteady lake. Everyone was so stoked that it worked, I nearly forgot about the cold water (10 degrees). When we arrived back at Puno, I felt how exhausted I was, and the only thing I wanted to do was get a meal and a good night’s sleep. This how my dream of kiting Lake of Titicaca came true. Sometimes you just need to do it!
A note about the “Isla de Los Uros”: The Island of the Uros, is a set of formed floating islands on the basis of totora, floating in the Lake Titicaca. They are inhabited by the Uros, the descendants of indigenous settlers of one of the oldest cultures of America.
Tue 7th Jun, 2016 @ 2:05 pm
By Nico ChaucaNico is a kiteboarder/instructor from Zurich, Switzerland, with roots in South America. Ever since his first kiteboarding experience in 2012 Kiting has been a constant passion and driving force in his life. He is traveling all over the world, constantly looking for new adventures and developing his kiteboarding skills. As photographer he also likes being behind the camera, to capture unique moments.