Located in the high Andes is the town of Puno. Puno features weather extremes from freezing cold to warm sunny day and plenty of rain. The town itself has a nice plaza and a pedestrian walkway with some good restaurants that feature trout from the lake, delicious for dinner or lunch. However, what most people come to Puno to see is Lake Titicaca and experience the Lake Titicaca tours. So where is Lake Titicaca you may ask? Lake Titicaca is located at the southernmost part of Puno and can be reached by plane from Lima or train from Cusco. Nevertheless, what most people come to see is the Uros Floating Islands.
The islands are home to the Uros people and are unlike anything that you will experience anywhere in the world. Located around 4 miles of the coast of Puno is the floating islands of Peru, the Uros islands. The Uros are a unique indigenous race who migrated to Lake Titicaca an estimated 3,700 years ago. Over time, they mixed with the nearby Aymara and eventually abandoned their language and many of their traditions. Due to political uncertainty in the region, particularly with the arrival of the Incas, the Uros built a mobile floating city in order to evade their enemies. Unfortunately, the Inca eventually found their colony and forced many Uros into slavery.
The islands are unique in many ways but what sets them apart is their construction. They have been constructed completely with the totora reeds that grow in the shores of the lake. The daily lives of the people depend on the reeds not only for the island but they also build their homes, some of which are replicas of ancient houses, schools, boats to get from island to island and many crafts for the tourist.
Every year the islands are replenished from the top as they rot from the bottom making the islands spongy to walk on. Many islands are designed for tourists with colorful houses and traditional boats with elaborate bows. Tourist may take rides on these boats for a cost and it is possible to stay overnight on the islands. Many complain that the islands are set for the tourist market, which is true of some but there are over forty islands of which only a small amount are used for tourism, the remaining are where the local people work and live. There is also a school where the local children attend; this is only a primary school. When it is time for secondary school the children travel to Puno.
These days the local people speak both Spanish and Aymara, but a sad fact of the islands is that the young people are choosing not to continue the way of life of their ancestors and if this continues the Uros people may not continue.
You are able to stay overnight on the Islands as there is basic accommodation available, which is a once in a lifetime experience. The food will consist of fish and potatoes but it tasty and good for you.
If you want Luxury Travel to Lake Titicaca, then take a private tour on the lake. With a private tour you can see the lake at your leisure. Spend time on the lake and the Uros Islands with your own private guide.
There is a small Christian school on the islands that the children attend every day. The children have to row their boats to school every morning and back home in the afternoon, as the children reach high school age they go to Puno to school. Every year an increasing number of children are leaving the islands to attend University and to find a new life on the mainland; this seems to be a factor in the Uros people’s way of life steadily disappearing. The people on the islands have a hard life and have to deal with harsh climate so it seems that the younger generations are now looking for a more modern way of life. This is a sad reality that one day there may be no one left on the islands to continue the traditions.
On the mainland, there are many things to do in Puno. On the main square, the Cathedral de Puno is open most day which features a silver-plated alter and was visited by the Pope in 1964. Also worth a visit is the Museo Carlos Dreyer, which features of fascinating collection of Puno archaeological artifacts and art. If you have time visit the Coca Museum, this is a small but interesting about the history and medicinal purposes of the coca leaf.
Virgen de la Candelaria
If you are lucky enough to be in Puno in February, then you must experience the Festival of the Virgin de la Candelaria. This month long, celebration features many religious events including many street parades with thousands of colorful dances and wonderfully loud music. If you plan to be in Puno in this month than book your accommodation early as the hotel rooms sell out quickly.
Take the time to visit Lake Titicaca Peru and the fascinating Uros Islands as part of your Peruvian adventure.