I had read about this amazing piece of Peruvian history, and wanted to check it out.
In 1862, the Yamari and its sister ship, the Yapura, were built in Birmingham, England, and shipped around Cape Horn, to Arica (then part of Peru, now Chile), from where they were moved by train to Tacna, and finally hauled by mule over the Andes to Puno. The process of getting the 2766 iron parts to Puno took six years.
The ships were reassembled in Puno and the Yavari was launched on Christmas Day 1870 on Lake Titicaca. It had a coal-powered steam engine, but was actually fuelled by dried llama dung. In 1914 the Yavari was modified with a Bolinder four-cylinder, hot-bulb, semideisel engine.
After long years of service, the ship was decommissioned by the Peruvian Navy and left to rust on the lakeshore. In 1982, an Englishwoman named Meriel Larken formed the Yavari Project to buy and restore the vessel.
Now it is a floating museum. When I arrived on board, I was greeted very enthusiastically by Joel, who welcomed me and gave me a tour of the ship.
Just after we started, the captain boarded the ship. He is a young English/Peruvian named Jim, who is a member of the South American Explorers Club, and somehow got this gig for a couple of months before returning to the jungles of Peru. He offered me a cup of tea, and while we sat having tea, both he and Joel played charango and Joel sang. I loved it!
The ship is beautifully refurbished, and the brass and copper are gleaming. The instruments and engines are all original. The wooden paneling is Canadian pine, and would be the same age as the pine in my house!
They have one stateroom ready for visitors, and apparently for about $50, you can spend the night and have breakfast on the ship. Eventually I think it can carry 30 passengers and 12 crew. They are working towards making tourist trips around the lake. That would be awesome.