Floating Islands, Highest Lake

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, April 27, 2005

 From Cuzco we caught a bus to the city of Puno which is on the shores of Lake Titicaca. 

You may have learnt in geography at school that this lake is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3,820 metres. It is also the largest lake in South America and home to the unique Uros people who live on floating islands. On the bus trip from Cuzco to Puno we rose well above 4,000 metres. 

The day after arriving we took a full day boat trip from 7.00am to 6.00 pm on the lake visiting the Uros floating islands and Taquile Island - a real island. The floating islands are really that - they float! The Uros people began their floating existence several centuries ago in a bid to isolate themselves from the other Indians. The islands are constructed from many layers of reeds which rot away from the bottom and are replaced at the top. The ¨ground¨ is soft and springy and feels really weird to walk on. The houses, a school and other buildings are made of reeds also and are moveable so that the reed island can be topped up. Eventually after some years the island becomes too water logged and they need to build and move to a new island. The Uros people build their boats out of reeds also and these last about 6 months before they rot through and need to be replaced. Lake Titicaca is the only place in the world where floating islands like this can be found.

The Island of Taquile was also very unique. There is hardly any western influence. They still wear traditional clothes spun from the Lama and Alpaca but what is truly amazing is the men do all the knitting. Yes! - you walk past men working with 5 needles knitting in a circle. Their clothes are amazingly colourful and their hats signify whether they are single or married. The women seem to be toiling away in the fields while the men knit. The scenery is stunning. The island is terraced for agriculture and you have a magnificent view across lake Titicaca to snow capped mountains in Bolivia. Add to this Inca stone paths and ruins and the island takes your breathe away.

The following day after our lake visit we looked around Puno and climbed some lookouts to get some fantastic views of the Lake and the Bolivian mountains in the distance. Then back to Lima for a few days.

Footnote: Lake Titicaca features in the book Unforgettable Places to See before you die.
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