Sep 20 Lake Titicaca

Community Highlights Central / South America & The Caribbean Sep 20 Lake Titicaca

Today we met our new guide, Lady, and we went to Lake Titicaca to see the floating reed islands of Uros. We walked down the path from our hotel to our awaiting power boat.

This is the largest navigable lake in the world at an elevation of 12,500 feet and is 160 by 65 Km’s. The lake is 840 feet at the deepest but around the islands it is about 45 feet. Both Peru and Bolivia border the lake but it is illegal to go to Bolivia. The lake looks like it is shaped like a puma chasing a chinchilla (especially if you’ve had a few Pisco Sours). Water comes from the Andes Mountains.

It’s hard to imagine seeing how brown and dry it is here now but in the winter everything turns green and the lake level can rise 9 feet.

Reeds are used for many purposes, building, medicine, eating. We are going to the Uros floating Islands, each island taking one year to build. There are 2500 inhabitants (pre-Inca people called Quechua) with a hundred floating islands. Roots of the reeds are the base of the island. The squares of mats are 1 metre deep and 2 or 3 metres wide and they tie 20 mats together. It takes 6 months for the mats to grow together, at which point they can build and live on them. On top of the mats they layer reeds a metre deep as they absorb water and deteriorate. The have to keep layering every week, tamping down the layers. The islands can last 90 years. The island is anchored and can be moved. They have schools, churches, medical and sports facilities.

The island we were on had 5 families. After the talk on how the islands are built, we broke into groups and visited the houses. The lady of our house had a husband and 2 children and they all slept in the same bed (and will until the children reach 10 and 12, when they get their own bed. The house does not have a kitchen, there is only one per island due to the threat of fire. They do have solar power though. But it gets very cold in winter, going down to -15 C at night. Maybe that’s why they wear so many layers.

The tourist Catamarans take up to 6 months to make one (again from reeds) and they last only one year. Puma heads are on the front of the catamaran and the boats are painted in beautiful colours. To meet up with our boat, we took one of these catamarans which are rowed, not motorized. For the people that live on the islands, they use very basic looking reed boats.

Next we spent 90 minutes travelling the lake to arrive at Amantani Island which is the second biggest island on the lake and the people are Inca. People have been here for 6000 years. Agriculture is the main activity and the island is all terraced. We had a short walk and a lunch stop.

The lunch was at a quaint little place that also has a few rooms for backpackers. The food is all grown in their garden (organic of course) and the trout from the lake was originally brought from Canada to be grown in farms here. We had quinoa soup, trout prepared with mint, garlic and lemon, rice, vegetables and potatoes and mint tea. The lovely lady who owns the place prepared everything for us. Very healthy and delicious.

Another 90 minutes back to Puno, by 3:30 for a rest. Most of us are struggling with the altitude, so even going up a flight of stairs can be challenging. Quite a come-down for those of us who thought we were in shape. Many of the group got 10 minutes of oxygen in their rooms or in the lobby last night.

A light snack and early to bed for our 5:20 AM wake up call.


Taking a catamaran across the water to catch up with our boat:

Antamani Island:

Our restaurant for lunch:

This featured blog entry was written by barb3389 from the blog Barb and Paul's Adventures Abroad.
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By barb3389

Posted Sun, Sep 22, 2019 | Peru | Comments