We found the beautiful Lake Titicaca truly fascinating. At 13,000 feet above sea level, it is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is also a very sacred site for the Inca civilization who believed that this was where the world was created from and where the first Inca king was born. Bordered by Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is also home to ancient cultures that pre-date the mighty Inca civilization. On the Peru side, the Uros and the Taquile people have lived on their islands on the lake for many centuries and still live pretty much the same way their ancestors did.
The Floating Islands of the Uros
The Uros have been living on their floating islands for centuries. They used their islands as defense from colliding with the Inca and Colla cultures. They make their islands out of Totora reeds that grow naturally and abundantly on the banks of the lake. The mighty Incas with huge stone temples thought very little of the Uros people for living very simply out of reeds. Yet interestingly, the Uros outlasted them.
Uros women wear very colorful clothes. They alway dress in layers, mostly woolen, to protect themselves from wind, the cold and the sun which can be very fierce at this altitude.
The Uros women are excellent in handicrafts and they help make additional income for the family by selling their handicrafts to the tourists.
A woman preparing a meal. Reed is also part of Uros diet. It is said to be highly nutritious.
A beautiful Uros girl, Lisa, sitting quietly by herself while her mother was preparing a meal.
A woman in high Uros fashion lazing on a reed lawn.
A happy Uros toddler.
Keith with his young Uros buddy, Felipe. Upon seeing Keith, Felipe run excitedly to him and jumped into his lap as if seeing a long lost friend.
Things become a bit modernized since I first visited the floating islands in 2001. Some of them have solar panels now which they use to power their own radio station and few hours of television a day.
We climbed a steep stair with about 540 uneven steps to get to this point from the dock. Hiking in Taquile was a good acclimatization for us to prepare our lungs for the Lares Valley Trek to Macchu Picchu.
A woman knitting in the plaza. Everyone in the island knits, including men and children. Taquilenos are known for producing one of the best quality handwoven textiles in Peru.
The archway that lead to the main plaza. Archways like this are found throughout the island. Notice the cross on top of the arch? The island fell into the hands of the Spanish explorers and left their usual religious stamp in this tiny colony.
We went in the municipal center and saw this daring little girl climbed up a stair to see what was going on in the plaza.
Beautiful Taquileno siblings.
A little boy wearing a traditional knitted cap. Single males wear red and white cap and married males wear solid red cap.
Strong women climbing the steep hill with their heavy loads.
Exploring the islands of Lake Titicaca left us breathless — literally and figuratively! We made it our first stop on our Peruvian adventure to give us more time to acclimatize to the high altitude before tackling a more challenging adventure ahead – trekking to Machu Picchu via the spectacular Lares Valley.
Getting there: We flew to Juliaca from Lima and then took a taxi to Puno. From Puno, we arranged for the boat tour of the islands through our hotel travel desk. You may also book the boat tour from travel agencies in Puno.
Travel Guide: Lonely Planet
Related Blog: Lake Titicaca, Peru by The Nomadic Pinoy