Three Islands of Lago Titicaca, Peru

Tuesday August 7, evening: we just returned from a overnight trip to visit three islands in Lago Titicaca. They were all near the Puno end of the lake. Yesterday morning we boarded a boat with about 12 other tourists and made the 40 minute passage to the floating Uros Islands. There are over 40 islands constructed of blocks of reed roots, then covered in a criss cross fashion with many layers the reed themselves. They are very spongy to walk on. We visited two of the many islands – ferried between the two islands on a reed boat. The second island contains modern services like a post office and school. The first island that we visited was much smaller and contained dwelling for an extended family.

From the floating islands it was a three hour trip to Isla Amataní, where we were assigned a family home for meals and a bed for the night. Elizabet and her mother Alejandra opened their small home to us and fixed us a wonderful soup for lunch. It was followed by traditional fried cheese and several types of potatoes. It was way too much food for us but was all tasty. The kitchen was a tiny dirt-floored adobe building attached to the main living structure with only outside access. Elizabet had a very new-looking, small 2-burner gas stove but her mother preferred to use the old wood-fired clay one in a back corner of the room. After lunch we attempted the hike up to Pachamama, a high point on the island, to watch the sunset. Bill and I got high enough to overlook the village, the lake and some islets. I got some sunset photos over the islets before we turned around. We managed to get down to the central plaza before it got too dark to see. There is no electricity on the island and no running water. Elizabet drew water from a well not far from their house. Our dinner Monday night was cooked by candle light. It was soup again, at our request, followed by rice and some delicious corn cakes. Bill and I enjoyed some herbal tea after dinner, but soon excused ourselves to bed. The private bedroom was upstairs (up a rickety ladder actually) with good heavy wool blankets on the bed; the “bathroom” was a simple outhouse, down the rickety ladder and back up by starlight! The younger members of the tour participated in folkloric dancing until late hours.

This morning it was up early, pancakes for breakfast and off to the third island, Taquille. There we got to visit with another group of people trying to keep their traditional dress and ways alive. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch, high up on the cliff overlooking the lake, before returning on the three hour boat ride to Puno. Later this evening we had a get-together dinner at an Irish Pub in Puno with three other couples we met during the trip.

In all three areas that we visited, the local indigenous population is limited, no new comers allowed except by marrying in. They keep as much as possible with traditional dress and lifestyles which are in a large way supported by tourism. They actually form living museums and are treated as such by the Peruvian government.