Lake Titicaca and the Yavari (in Puno, Peru)

At around 3810 meters above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world.  There are other lakes which are higher but not used for commercial traffic.  Lake Titicaca straddles Peru and Bolivia in the altiplano region of the countries with many small islands and towns and villages along its shore.  It covers an area of around 3200 sq miles.    The Yavari is one of 2 steam ships left of the many which were built in the UK and then transported in pieces to the shores of the lake and re-assembled.  The other being the Yapura which is currently used by the navy and is also moored in Puno. 










         The Yavari built in 1870                             The engine room sparkled!                     Original Capstan


The Yavari was at one time left to rot on the shores of the lake but in 1982 it caught the eye of  an Englishwoman - Muriel Larken and she set up a project to buy and to restore it. It is now open to the public as a museum (and just starting as a bed and breakfast venue) and eventually will sail again on the lake.  We were shown around by one of the 6 permanent crew members - all of whom have been working there for many years.  She was very proud of the ship and rightly so as everything was gleaming! 

They had on display the original one page hand written contract for the order of 2 ships in 1861 from the Peruvian government to James Watt and Co, Thames Ironwork, for the ships to be transported in a total of 2766 pieces - each weighing no more than 200 kg (the maximum weight a mule can carry) The total cost was around £7000.  They were transported in crates by sea around Cape Horn to the port of Arica, then in Peru now belonging to Chile, then by train to Tacna and then by man and mule over the Andes to Puno - taking a total of 6 years, as opposed to the original estimate of 17 months!  They were then reassembled in a specially built shipyard on the shore of the lake.   The Yavari was launched on Christmas day in 1870.  In 1884 she was elongated to 45 feet to accommodate the enormous amount of llama dung which fuelled the original steam engine, as coal and wood are not available on the altiplano!  In 1887 following the war of the Pacific between Peru/Bolivia and Chile, the ship passed to the British Peru ivan Corporation which, in 1914, replaced the original engine with a Swedish "Bolinder" diesel engine which is still in situ today. Currently the Yavari sails across the lake several times a year but before she can carry passengers, the decks need to be reinforced by a new bulkhead.

                     The deck which was elongated                Original dining room furniture                   The wheelhouse                                                                                     




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