The Floating Islands of the Uros – A Unique Experience

 

A demonstration of how the Uros people build their islands, boats, and homes.

A demonstration of how the Uros people build their islands, boats, and homes.

If you’re looking for a unique experience while traveling in Peru, don’t miss out on visiting the floating islands of the Uros on Lake Titicaca.

The life style of the Uros people differs greatly from what most of us are accustomed to. Visiting the islands offers a unique travel experience and the opportunity to gain an understanding of a piece of Peru’s cultural history. I walked away from the experience with a sense of wonder and appreciation for the lifestyle of the Uros. My lack of preexisting knowledge of the islands and a lack of research ahead of time, allowed me to be completely taken by surprise. Before visiting the islands, I had assumed “Floating Islands” was a play on words and that there must be a catch…But I was wrong; the islands are literally floating on the lake, held in place by only an anchor.

The islands themselves are man-made using native Totora reeds and roots. The buoyant roots and soil are cut into large squares approximately 1 yard cubed. These cubes are then roped together to make the base of the island. Next, the reeds themselves are cut and laid atop the base to make for sturdier footing. The picture below shows just how thin the base of the islands are. On several occasions the island under me seemed to give a little further in some spots causing me to question whether or not my foot would break through into the lake! Luckily, no such event happened (whew).

The roots of the Totora Reeds make up the buoyant bottom while the reeds themselves are nestled on top to provide stable (ish) footing.

The roots of the Totora Reeds make up the buoyant bottom while the reeds themselves are nestled on top to provide stable (ish) footing.

Access to the islands can be gained through Puno, where tours are offered at most hotels, the bus station, and the docks themselves.

Not only will you get an up close and personal look at how these people live their daily lives… but you’ll get to see living history, have a unique experience, and leave enriched by a new cultural experience!

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