Las Islas de Titicaca

Once we reached Puno, Sharon, Bernie, Mike, and I were anxious to visit a few of the islands on Lake Titicaca. So, one morning we worked our way down to the dock with the vague plan to hitch a boat to as many of the islands as we could. This proved a bit more difficult than we anticipated, so rather than hopping on some sort of tourist boat we more or less hired our own. We booked a private 2-day tour for the four of us. The tour included transportation, a home stay with a family on Amantani, and a total of 4 island visits. After purchasing plenty of water and snacks and a gift for our host family, we set off across the water.

A look back at Puno on the shore. All of the photos in this post are Sharon and Bernie’s since ours are lost and they so graciously provided their pics for your viewing pleasure.

Sharon relaxes on the back of the boat. It was a beautiful sun-shiney day, but still a bit chilly given the altitude and the breeze.

Our first stop was one of the coolest and most unique places I have ever set foot. In fact, this was evident from the very first step I took onto the island. Lake Titicaca is home to the “floating islands” of Uros. An entire chain of islands near Puno is man-made from totora reeds. The 40-some-odd islands are home to 700 or so Uros people who originally left land in order to evade enemies hundreds of years ago. Not only are the islands themselves made of totora reeds, so are the inhabitants’ houses, their boats, and many of their crafts. Stepping onto an Uros island is somewhat like stepping on a hay bale — the ground is springy yet solid, made up of millions of reeds yet cohesive. The islands are tethered to keep them from floating on over into Bolivia, so they almost have the feel of an enormous raft rather than an island. Of course, many of the Uros islands are large enough to house schools, multiple family homes, and other common community buildings.

The first Uros island we stopped on was small-ish with only a half a dozen or so families living on it. It featured several homes, a watch tower, and a fishing hole (they just cut out part of the ground and breed fish right there).

We visited a second Uros island as well, though we only stopped for ten minutes. The second island offered several vendor stalls, a small restaurant, and a hotel of sorts. It would have been interesting to stay there for the night.

The locals on the first Uros island gave us a presentation (in Spanish) about how the islands are built and maintained, how the people live their lives, etc. Although I did understand most of the presentation, I can’t remember much of it anymore.

The locals had their crafts on display for us. Sharon bought a neat mobile from one of the ladies. By the way, that is a solar panel on the right of the picture. These people have sustainability down pretty well. They build their homes out of fast-growing reeds, their boats rely on wind and man power, and they use solar power for their few energy needs. Rock on!

Whereas Sharon bought the mobile, I just couldn’t resist this cute basket shaped like the Titicaca reed boats. We use it to put our fruit in at home.

Here’s one of the real boats in action.

Here’s one of the watch towers.

And here’s Mike in another tower. Since the towers are built on the springy island reeds, the ladders are a bit scary to climb. I knew that if I fell I would be landing on a soft pile of reeds though, so I didn’t worry about it too much. If I’m remembering correctly, I think the little teepee in the foreground is where the food gets cooked.

I just realized that I have a lot more to tell you about the islands than I thought. I’m a busy girl though, so I think this is where I will leave off for tonight. More for next time!

2 Responses to “Las Islas de Titicaca”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Time for the next entry? I need to see your pics & comments so I can get my Peru trip in an album before we forget what we saw! The memory isn't what it was at 25!Hope all is well!

  2. Anonymous says:

    HEY! JACKIE! Where’s that new blog you’ve been teasing me about?????!Love you, Ma

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