Lake Titicaca: The Floating Islands

Reeds in Lake Titicaca

Reeds in Lake Titicaca

I guess I can say I’m an experienced traveller but sometimes I still catch myself doing stupid mistakes!  Booking a half day trip in Cusco to the floating islands of Urros in Puno was such a mistake!  The thing was that the nightbus left at 22pm from Cusco and I would arrive at 4.15am in Puno.  The tour would start at 9am and I was not sure if I could have the opportunity to book it before 9am at a local agency.  And I didn’t wanted to spend a whole day in Puno due to the fact that many people told me it was not worth it.  But when I arrived in Puno at the bus terminal, I should have known that the place would be infected by travel agents & tour operators trying to sell me a trip to the floating islands.  They offered me the same tour at half the price (25s) instead of 45s, the price that I paid in Cusco!  Stupid, stupid…

The ancient Urros people of Lake Titicaca

The ancient Urros people of Lake Titicaca

Taquile & Amantani are beautiful islands as well in Lake Titicaca (3,812 m) but local people & travellers adviced me to skip those if I was planning to do Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca in Bolivia anyway.  Isla Del Sol was supposed to be much nicer but the floating islands of Urros were a must-do!

The ancient people known as ‘Urros’ lived on islands made of living reeds that float around the lake.  The Urros people have been living on the lake for hundreds of years.  They were forced to take up residence on the floating islands when the Incas expanded onto their land. In the shadow of the Andes, on the world’s highest navigable lake (3,812 m), they make their living from fishing and from tourism.

The vessels of Urros

The vessels of Urros

The Urros used the totora reed, which is plentiful along the edges of the lake, to make their homes, their furniture, their boats and the islands they live on. Their boats, which are shaped like canoes, but with animal heads at the prow are used for fishing and to bring visitors out to the islands, which are usually moored to the bottom of the lake, but can be moved if necessary. As reeds disintegrate from the bottom of the islands, which are four to eight feet thick, residents must add more to the surface, which is soft and occasionally spongy.

Thiago, Thadeu, Amalia & Mariana & myself @ Puno

Thiago, Thadeu, Amalia & Mariana & myself @ Puno

Although being a very touristic place, I really enjoyed the beauty & authenticity of the place with Mariana & Amalia, 2 Colombian girls I met on the ferry. On the way back we met Thadeu & Thiago, 2 brothers from Brazil and we decided to share lunch in the town of Puno, my last stop in Peru.

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