We ended our scenic train journey from Cusco at Puno – a small city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. At a height of over 12500ft or 3800m, Lake Titicaca is “The Highest Navigable Lake in the World”. The main attraction here was the Floating Islands of Uros, in the middle of the lake. Visiting the islands is a standard trip and takes only 2 hours. So we kept it for 6am in morning, so that we don’t waste the rest of the day and can continue onwards to the Bolivian side of the lake. Our guide picked us up from our hotel at 6am and took us to the jetty, where we boarded the boat to one of the Islands in the middle of the lake.
The Floating Islands of Uros are actually man-made islands, constructed by Uru people who inhabit them. The local lady who lived on the Island demonstrated to us how these Islands are ‘made’ using Totora reeds which grow in Lake Titicaca.
The reeds have a very thick root which also happens to float when cut out. They are harvested and then anchored to the bottom of the lake with ropes.
Walking on the Island feels like walking on a mat, with a slight sinking feeling. When we visited in the morning there was ice crystals in the straw from overnight. We could feel the coldness through our shoes!
They also cultivate reeds and use them to make houses, boats, souvenirs, mats etc.
Reed boats. For an extra fee you can take a ride on them.
Most of the descendants of the original Uros people have moved to shore. Now only a handful families remain, primarily to preserve the culture and make a living out of tourists that come here.
With that we bid good bye to the Uru people and Puno and continued towards the border of Peru and Bolivia.