Lake Titicaca and the Reed Islands

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 2010

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, March 20, 2009

We left La Paz for a short ride to Lake Titicaca. We crossed the border after Copacabanna and headed to Puno.

An adorable Bolivian family crossing Lake Titicaca on the Bolivia side

Copacabanna (sorry, this is the best pic we have of the gorgeous town)

Church in Copacabanna

Ben's bag was too heavy for the bus driver so he had to take it down off the top of the bus himself

Lindsey doing push-ups while we wait for our pizza

Walking across the border into Peru

Ben had already been to the Reed Islands on Lake Titicaca, so he stayed back in Puno to find accommodatins while Lindsey cruised out on a boat for a first-hand view of the island of Uros off the city of Puno.

Lindsey sitting on the top of the boat with the totora reed plants growing in the water

The expansion of the Inca in the 1400's was hard on the pre-Incan people. Some fled the Inca by boat on Lake Titicaca, but because their boats weren't large enough to make a life on long-term, they tied together blocks of roots from reeds and layed the green stalks crosswise to build floating reed islands. These islands eventually break down, so they have to rebuild their islands every couple of years.

Locals on the reed islands

The reed boats they take to get from one reed island to the next

A woman making a quilt to tell the tale of their lives and of their Inca gods: Hananpacha, the condor, which represents the future and the connection to the spiritual world; Quapacha, the puma, which represents the present, strength and hard work; and Uhupacha, the snake, which represents the past and the connection to the past life.

A local child practing his climbing skills by summiting his house. He of course threw a bit of a fit when he didn't know how to get down.

The fish that the men catch from 4am to 5pm. They use this little fish to trade for everything back on the mainland on Puno

The inside of one of the reed houses. There is only one room for the house and all the family, including the children, sleep in one bed (pretty hard to do when you're a family of 8 or so like many of these families are!)

Lindsey got to cruise on one of the reed boats. It was freezing out there, so thankfully there was a Bolivian blanket to keep warm! Lindsey's also chewing on the white innerds of the reed, which is edible and provides high levels of flouride.

There are currently 44 reed islands with about 2 to 3 families living on each. This number is rapidly declining, however. The children on the islands leave their homes to attend school and never return. They estimate that in 10 years or so, there may only be one or two islands left only for tourism. It was a great culture and lifestyle to experience while it still exists!
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bramjw on

Way out there...
Wow, lake Titicaca, you guys are out there. Your entry totally woke me up at my desk, software in Seattle continues to be boring, but your pictures are amazing. Keep it coming!


therunningdog on

Green Lake!
Let's build our own little city of reeds on Green Lake when you guys get back.

When DO you get back???

benandlindsey on

lago titicaca!
Hi all and thanks for your great messages! Joe - good call on the world's highest sizable lake! And it's really high at 3,812 m (12,500 ft). You can definitely feel the altitude!

It is also the largest lake (by volume) in South America!

Tim - you know I'm up for building one of these reed islands in the middle of Green Lake!!

We get back to Seattle in the evening of April 7th and we'll be heading down to climb at Smith Rock shortly after that!

Saludos to all of you and keep the comments coming! We love them! A special shout out to Auntie Emily for her detailed bit!!

drjillo on

Ahhhhhhh, Titicaca. Saying that word always gives me great pleasure. As does Copacobanna. What's the story on those Bolivian bowler hats? Gangs of New York meets South America. WELCOME HOME!! Loved your blog: fabulous writing & photos, looking forward to more entries from your next exciting destinations!

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