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The floating Islands of Uros and their community

  • Published on Jun 18, 2018 Culture
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Living in a world made of totora, surrounded by the beautiful Lake Titicaca.

At 3,812 m above sea level, in the Peruvian highlands is located the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, in Puno. Here you can find the Floating Islands of the Uros, a set of approximately 80 islands built of totora, an aquatic plant that grows on the surface of Lake Titicaca. The totora is woven and laid on another layer of it to build the surface of each island.

Uros floating islands

These islands are inhabited by the Uros, one of the oldest cultures of the continent which dates back to pre-Inca times. The inhabitants of this floating community claim to be owners of the waters of Lake Titicaca.

The subsistence of the Uros community is based on fishing and hunting; they are also dedicated to the manufacture of wool tapestry fabrics and the dissection of animals. On the other hand, they participate in tourist activities: there are tours to the Uros Floating Islands of a few hours, but also complete experiences in which you become part of the Uros community. In this blog post we will share both options.

How to get there and what to bring

To get to the Uros Islands, you will have to embark in the port of Puno, if you do not have a contracted tour, there are people who offer the service. Arriving at the Uros Islands from the coast is a journey of approximately 30 minutes and costs approximately USD5.

To enjoy the Uros Floating Islands to the fullest, we recommend that you take the following elements to take care of the sun, cold and wind:

• Comfortable and warm clothing
• 
Hat
• Gloves
• Wool socks
• Bottled water
• Chocolate
• Lemon candies
• Sunscreen
• Lip balm 


3 hour tour

During the journey from the mainland to one of the Uros Islands, you can see totora plants that grow on Lake Titicaca. These constitute the basic source of food and, at the same time, they serve as a maintenance system that the Uros have to perpetuate the existence of the islands.

When you reach one of the islands, the women of the community will welcome you with their costumes and traditional chants, as well as the head leader of the island will give a cordial welcome in their native language, the Uro. You will meet the families that live on the island and they will show you their way of life. You can also tour the island, take pictures, and if you are a lover of the memories of the places you visit, you can buy crafts. Similarly, you can take a ride on a boat made of totora, which costs around USD3.


Uros boat

The approximate price of the tour mentioned to the Uros Islands is USD10 per person.

 

Experimental tourism

Both authorities and residents participate in the Community Rural Tourism project. This allows interested visitors to participate in the daily activities of the community of the Uros Islands and feel part of it. Villagers teach visitors how to cut totora, fish, sail in totora boats, cook, among others.

“Vivencial Tourism is not just hosting, it is that the tourist is like your son, and that he feels it from the bottom of his heart” – Cristina Soaña, president of the Association of Vivencial Tourism of the Uros Island

There are different programs to carry out vivencial tourism in the Uros Islands. They vary depending on the days which one wishes to remain part of the community. As for facilities, there are now solar panels on the islands to provide light at night and ecological toilets for visitors.

Villager of the Uros Islands

 

The approximate prices to make the visit are:

  • Entry to the Island: USD1,5
  • Transportation by boat: USD3
  • Accommodation cost: USD52 per person per night. Includes food and activities

It is an unmissable experience! Travel to Puno and, if you dare, live a few days in a world made of totora, surrounded by the beautiful Lake Titicaca, accompanied with the millenary culture of the Uros.

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