Traveling is one of life’s great pleasures, learning about new cultures is something that you and your family should work to achieve. Over the past few decades South America has become increasingly popular with travelers from all over the world. The continent features some of the most fascinating natural beauty that you will experience anywhere. The Andes mountain with its high peaks and wonderful valleys will take your breath away. The Andean country of Peru not only is popular for its natural beauty but also for the many different cultures that have lived there. One of the most interesting cultures that you will experience is the Uros people and the Floating Islands of Peru.
Located on Lake Titicaca Peru one of the highest lakes in the world at an elevation of 12500 feet above sea level. The lake covers 3210 square miles and is 120 miles long and around 50 miles wide at its widest point. The water level depends on the season and is lower in the winter months. There are many rock islands in the lake the biggest being Taquille, which is home to a community of very productive people who make some of the most wonderful knitwear and are mostly self-sufficient growing their own crops and catering for the tourist. The other large island is Amantani which also caters for tourism, both islands have family homes for overnight stays, or take a day tour which is also a wonder experience to see how these gentle people live.
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.
On the mainland there are many things to do in Puno. On the main square the Catedral 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.
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.
Getting to Puno from all parts of Peru is easy with many flights from all parts of Peru arriving daily to the airport in Juliaca. Juliaca is an industrial town located around a forty-five-minute drive from Puno and it is best to arrange a transfer ahead of time. But flying is not the only means of transport, if you have been in the imperial city of Cusco you can also catch a luxurious train ride Cusco Puno Peru. The trains leaves for Puno 3 times a week and travels over the high Andean plains to Puno city. The journey is a luxurious one and the scenery is unforgettable.
Puno and the Uros Islands are a must see on any Peruvian vacation, book your tour to Peru today.