Lake Titicaca – Peru

After spending a day exploring the city of Puno, the next day we booked a full day tour of Lake Titicaca.  Lake Titicaca sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia and by volume of water; it is the largest lake in South America.  There are several islands in the lake.  Our tour today would take us to the Uros Floating Islands and to the island of Taquile.

We were picked up at our hotel at 7:00am and taken down to the dock to board our boat.  We departed around 7:30am for the Uros Floating Islands.

The Uros islands are a group of forty-two self-fashioned floating islands just five kilometers west from Puno port.  The islands are inhabited by the Uros, a pre-Incan people.  The purpose of the island settlements was originally defensive, and if a threat arose they could be moved.  The islands are constructed of bundles of dried totora reeds which grow in the lake. The dense roots that the plants develop and interweave form a natural layer called Khili (about one to two meters thick) that support the islands. They are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake. The reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top constantly, about every three months.  The reeds are also used to make houses on the islands and reed boats. The larger islands house about ten families, while smaller ones, only about thirty meters wide, house only two or three.

We arrived at one of the reed islands at around 8:30am.  A view as we are nearing the island.



We were greeted by the local people and given a presentation on how they construct their islands, houses and reed boats and general information about their way of life on the island.


The local women offered handicrafts for sale as well.


We were given the opportunity to take a ride in one of the reed boats so I decided to go.  A picture of me as we are loading into the boats and getting ready to go.


A shot taken from my reed boat looking over to another group in their boat.


We took a short ride around the island and into the reeds growing in the lake nearby.  You can get a good perspective of the size of the island from the boat.






After our reed boat ride, it was time to re-board our tour boat and head to the natural island of Taquile. Taquile is a hilly island located 45 kilometers east of Puno.

We arrived on Taquile island shortly before 11:00am and walked from the shore up to the restaurant where we would be having lunch.


The kids at the table waiting for lunch.


Before lunch we were entertained with some music and given some demonstrations on knitting.  Taquile Island is especially known for its handicraft tradition which is regarded as among the highest quality handicrafts not only in Peru but in the world. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, starting at age eight. The women exclusively make yarn and weave.  Everyone wears knitted hats; the difference is that these hats each have a meaning. Hats that are covered in an all-over design are worn by married men, hats that are half red and half white are worn by single men and those that are multi-coloured and have earflaps are worn by the headmen.  The men must demonstrate their weaving skills to the women they plan to court and marry.  The hats must be so tightly woven that they will hold water.  If their woven hat does not pass the water test for their future father-in-law, they may not court or marry the woman until they have perfected their knitting skills to pass the water test.

A knitting demonstration by one of the Taquileños.


Once married, it is custom for the women to cut their hair and use it to weave a belt or waistband for their new husband.  By using it along with alpaca hair, it creates a beautiful and sturdy piece that her husband will wear for the rest of his life.  Here is a picture of a waistband in progress.


After the music and knitting demonstration, we were served lunch.  We started with a vegetable soup.


Soup was followed by fresh fish with rice and potatoes.


After lunch we went outside and watched as the Taquileños demonstrated some typical dances.  Lisa was chosen to participate in one of the dances.


We then headed up from the restaurant, walking up to the top of the island and the main square of the town.


Looking back at the terraced farm land and a view of the lake.


The Taquileños run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). The island is divided into six sectors or suyus for crop rotation purposes. The economy is based on fishing, and terraced farming horticulture based on potato cultivation.

More shots as we headed up the trail to the center of the village.





A couple of shots from the main square.




A woman tending to her sheep.


A closer look at some of the agricultural terracing.


After doing a little shopping at the co-op where the locals had their knitting and weaving for sale, we headed back down the trail to the boat. A couple of shots of the island of Amantani.



One of the several stone archways on Taquile Island.



Lisa heading down the path to the port.


Nearing the water and ready to board our boat for the return trip to Puno.



We boarded our boat and headed back to the city of Puno on the mainland, ending our tour of Lake Titicaca.



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