After Arequipa, we had one more stop in Peru on our way to Bolivia and that was in Puno to check out the man made floating islands. Puno itself isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing city we’ve visited but what’s special about it resides on the well known Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable body of water in the world.
Lake Titicaca is home to a very unique community called The Uros who literally live on the lake… no you didn’t read that wrong. Their existence is said to predate the Inca civilization and still exists today. They are still a fairly self-sufficient community, but they now rely heavily on tourism for income. We had heard about the islands before we began our trip and were told it was a must see, it definitely was. The tour begins with a 30 minute boat ride to reach The Uros community. Entering the community all you see is a slew of these amazing man made islands with people working and maintaining them. The boat parked at one of the islands and we were enthusiastically welcomed by the family that lived there and were encouraged to explore their property.
Part of the reed is edible too! The reeds do rot so they constantly have to add new top layers to the island to maintain it. The island itself is a little tricky to walk on because it’s uneven so you have to constantly watch your step. (especially me, with my daily trip and all.)
The family on the island was so excited to have us and they invited us into their homes for some great conversation. The Uros appear to live very simply, some homes have solar powered electricity for T.V and radio but other than that there’s no apparent need to ‘keep up with the Joneses.’ They live with what they need instead of what they want.
For the kids education, they boat a teacher in and all the kids gather on one island for their schooling. For income they encourage tourism and many people make crafts to sell to visitors. We couldn’t help but by something 🙂
The family members were all very friendly and after learning everything we could about the islands and the family we all boarded the boat and headed to another island for some refreshments.
On the second island was a restaurant because we all need to eat out sometimes! We sat and enjoyed the view and watched the traditional reed boats float by. Learning how the islands are built and how the families live and survive was really cool. But feeling what it’s like to physically walk on the islands and taste the Totora Reeds was definitely unforgettable. It was a very memorable experience meeting and exploring this incredibly unique community.