In the immense Andean highlands is where you can find Lake Titicaca, the largest high-altitude lake in the world. Its waters are home to the mysterious and fantastic floating islands of Lake Titicaca that contain a unique cultural wealth. This is because their predominantly indigenous communities still maintain the traditions of the Pre-Inca and Inca Empire. And among its many legends, it is said that the Andean peoples considered Lake Titicaca as the cradle of the sun. For this reason, together with the experts of Machu Travel Peru, we have prepared a small article about the recognized Uros islands. Learn about these artificial reed islands and much more.
Visiting the Uros Islands and Lake Titicaca
- Characteristics of Lake Titicaca
- Doubts about the Uros Islands
- Lake Titicaca highlights
- How to get to the floating islands of Uros
CHARACTERISTICS OF LAKE TITICACA
But … where is Lake Titicaca? The Lake is located near the quiet but privileged city of Puno. The city of Puno is considered the Folk Capital of Peru and America for its colorful and varied folklore. It is immensely rich in music, dance, customs, and legends that make this city, without a doubt, the richest and most dazzling place on the entire continent. You can be part of the different Puno boat tours to get to know the Uros islands and the other islands around. Lake Titicaca also spans the neighboring country of Bolivia in the Sierra Andina. The Bolivian part occupies 40% of the lake while the Peruvian part occupies 60%. To get to the floating islands of Lake Titicaca, we recommend that you plan your tour so that you can enjoy the adventure without problems.
DOUBTS ABOUT THE UROS ISLANDS
The Lake is home to numerous legends and stories. But many times reality is stranger than fiction, and this destination seems to be an example of this. The waters of this mirror-shaped lake contain many mysteries and questions. There are numerous questions about the Uros islands such as “what do the inhabitants of the floating islands do for a living?” or “how is it possible to live on a floating island?” But there is a particular Lake Titicaca mystery that many people want to figure out: how are the floating islands of Lake Titicaca built? These artificial islands are made of totora (a reed that grows in shallow places) that floats in abundance along the lake. But the reed occasionally disintegrates at the bottom of Lake Titicaca, so the inhabitants have to continually maintain the islands. Every 20 days, they must add a new layer of cattails. Also, the floating islands are linked with ropes, stakes, and stones that sink into the lake. The ingenuity of the Uros culture was what kept them alive to this day.
LAKE TITICACA HIGHLIGHTS
The lake is dotted with dozens of charming islands and the number continues to increase. But a Lake Titicaca tour has to include the most remarkable islands of the lake, such as the islands of Uros and Taquile among others. We will try to summarize what you can enjoy and do in these incredible islands.
FLOATING ISLANDS OF THE UROS
Just 30 minutes by boat from the port of Puno, is the home of the ancient Peruvian indigenous tribe, the Uros people. The community has lived on the floating islands for centuries. According to history, the pre-Inca community of the Uros was forced to build their floating houses when the Inca Empire expanded their lands and expelled them. The people of Uros didn’t want to fight, they just wanted to live in peace, so retreating to the lake was a good way to defend themselves against the aggressive Collas and Incas. Even the people of Uros had their language called “Pukina” but over the years this language was lost to adopt another ancestral language called Aymara. As we mentioned earlier, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca are made of totora. But not only the floating islands of the Uros are made of it, but also furniture, houses, and boats. The boats usually have two figures of pumas in front, to honor the favorite animal of Lake Titicaca. You will also find out the meaning of Lake Titicaca which can be translated as “puma stone”.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE UROS ISLANDS
The Uros also eat the soft white part of the totora that provides them with nutrients. These even help them avoid some diseases like rheumatism and arthritis. On the other hand, they have lived a self-sufficient lifestyle. Fishing and hunting are their basic sources of food and wealth. Tourism also contributes to its economy due to the large number of tourists visiting the Uros islands. They also sell beautiful and colorful totora handicrafts. In addition to that, the Peruvian government provided them with solar panels for electricity, medical centers, and floating schools. Extra note: If the Lake Titicaca hotels are not for you, you could try to do experiential tourism on your different tours. There is the opportunity to spend a night or more on the floating islands of the Uros, so feel welcome to stay on one of the floating islands of Lake Titicaca.
Taquile is not a floating island, but it is a beautiful terraced island located in the middle of Lake Titicaca. From here you can find interesting archaeological sites and impressive views of the lake. It is located 35 km east of the city of Puno and two and a half hours by boat from the Uros Islands. The island of Taquile is famous for the remarkable quality of its textiles. It is strongly integrated into the Taquile culture that women and men learn to weave. Even knitting is part of her early education. All the men in the community wear hats with different patterns, which depend on their marital status. One of the most notable characteristics is that young men use their knitting skills to attract a partner. They want to show that they are hardworking when they spend a lot of time and effort knitting. The island’s population is around 2,000 Quechua-speaking indigenous people who work as a collective community. All families share food and funds with each other. To sustain the island, they fish and farm on the old terraces. Tourism is also an important part of its economy.
HOW TO GET TO THE FLOATING ISLANDS OF UROS
There are different ways to get to the floating islands, but the common route for most travelers is to go from Machu Picchu to Lake Titicaca. As we mentioned earlier, the city of Puno is the gateway to Lake Titicaca. You can take advantage of your stay in the city and enjoy the many things to do in Puno. We will give you some options on how to get from Cusco to Puno:
The closest airport to the city of Puno is the nearby city of Juliaca. The flight will take around 1 hour and once you get there, you have to take a taxi to get to Puno. This road trip will also last around 1 hour.
The PeruRail Titicaca Train is a luxury service that has a bar car, 2 restaurant cars, and an observation car at the rear. This service offers an incredible show with traditional Peruvian singers and dancers. Besides that, the impressive landscapes that you will be able to see will make this tour an unforgettable experience. The journey is estimated to take around 10 hours and only has a 10-minute stop. Being able to enjoy a train trip within the different tours in Peru is an unforgettable and magical experience.
This is the most popular way to get to Puno and see the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. The trip takes about 10 hours and has some extended cultural stops, some of them at 2 temples and a museum. Also, the tourist bus stops for lunch (it is included in the ticket price).
“KNOWLEDGE IS AN ISLAND SURROUNDED BY A SEA OF MYSTERY.”
As you will see, the magical destination of Lake Titicaca has much more to offer than the Uros Islands. Take advantage of the wonderful tours and get to know in-depth the birthplace of the Inca Empire. We hope together with the travel experts of Machu Travel Peru to have solved your doubts. If you want to know more about our wonderful private tours, you can consult with our advisors. They will be happy to help you fulfill your vacation in Peru.