Vibrant, colourful, and constructed from nothing more than Totora Reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows of the world’s highest navigable lake, the Uros Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca are a beautiful sight, and something that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime.
Established centuries ago, when it is believed that the Uros people headed out on to the lake to escape from stronger tribes such as the Incas, this sprawling community of floating islands is now considered to be one of Peru’s most popular attractions, drawing thousands of international travellers each year.
Situated just 7km for the shores of Puno, the Uros Islands are easily accessible by boat. You can opt for a fully guided tour with an experienced guide, or simply jump on the local boat that crosses from the mainland to the islands several times a day. Guided tours can be expensive, but you’ll learn a lot more about the islands than if you were to go it alone, and you’ll be supporting the local economy too, which is always a good thing when visiting South American countries.
The way in which the Uros people live on these floating islands is quite simply amazing. They use Totora Reeds to build everything from the islands and homes in which they live, to boats to navigate the lake and arts and crafts to sell to visitors, and so it is essential to their survival. This versatile reed is also partially edible, and while it’s not to everyone’s taste (it’s a bit like sugarcane – without the sweetness), everyone is encouraged to try it during their visit… so don’t be shy!
Surprisingly, perhaps, many residents of the Uros islands have TV’s, radios, and all the latest mod cons, and there are schools, churches and local shops dotted throughout the community. While tourism has most definitely made its mark here, these magical floating islands haven’t lost their charm, and if you are heading to Peru any time soon, it is highly recommended that you add Lake Titicaca’s top attraction to your travel itinerary.