Taking the Peruvian Polar Plunge

After their visit to Taquile Island, H2Passport: Peru student Dani Carson was one of five ladies brave enough to jump into the frigid waters of Lake Titicaca, and she says she’d do it again. Read about Dani’s experience, and follow to the bottom to see the plunge yourself.

After following our tour guide Lute down the side of the island of Taquile, five of us girls prepared to jump from the roof of our boat into the cold depths of Lake Titicaca. Physically, we prepped by changing into mostly makeshift swimsuits. Mentally, the preparation included accepting how cold we were about to be, and that it may be hard to breathe in that water at 12, 500 feet above sea level, as well as facing the fact that a camera crew, eyes of our classmates, and of the crew of the boat were on us.  Despite these pressures, we all climbed up and over the metal rail to the edge of the roof. There wasn’t quite room for all of us to fit along it, so three of us went first, including me. 

Dr. Austin tried to start counting down from ten, but we protested loudly. Instead, when we were ready, Becca began counting down from five. I joined in at the three, two, one and sucked in a breath of air and jumped. During the split second of being in midair, my mind was blank. However, as soon as I hit the water, I was mentally yelling “TOO COLD!” I swam to the top and breathed in. Everyone emerged screaming around me, and immediately started paddling for the side of the boat. I remained treading water, and then encouraged the last two girls as they replaced us on the edge. They counted to three and shrieked as they followed us in. They too surfaced quickly, screaming and swimming for the boat. I let them go ahead of me, and swam around a bit as they climbed. Every movement in the water was a bit of a shock, but I could stand it. When it was my turn to climb in, I thought that if I had been able to stay in for a few more moments, I would have been acclimated to the chilly water. 

We all took pictures, and Lute took a video of each of us saying how we felt about it. He then told us that the water was five degrees Celsius, and was the warmest it ever got throughout the year. After that, we laid out on top of the boat as we rode from Taquile back to Puno. Dr. Austin sat up there with us, either to take in the views or make sure none of us fell off. He asked if the polar plunge was worth it, and we all answered with a round of “yes, of course,” “I’d go again,” and “you should have jumped with us.” Not a single one of us regretted plunging into 41 degrees Fahrenheit Lake Titicaca at 12, 500 feet.

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