Lake Titicaca at 3,810 metres, is the highest navigatable lake in the world, one of the most fascinating things about Lake Titicaca are the Uros, the pre-Incan people that live on 42 mad made floating islands 5 km from the the port of Puno.

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Uros ladies in traditional dress

A few hundred live and maintain the islands that are made made of totora reeds, which grow in the lake, the reeds dense roots interweave to form a natural layer about one to two meters thick that support the islands and lets them to float on the lake. The islands are kept in place by ropes attached to sticks, driven into the bottom of the lake. An island lasts about 30 years and the need to be topped up with fresh reeds every 3 months.

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Rebuilding the islands with fresh reeds

The reeds are not only used for living on, they also an import and part of the Uros diet and medicine. The bottom of the reed is called the chullo and like the Andean people of Peru rely on the Coca Leaf for relief from a harsh climate and hunger, the Uros rely on the Totora reeds in the same way.

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Tourists aboard a traditional Uros reed boat

To visit the islands you can take a tour from the port of Puno, you’ll get driven out in a boat and taken to a couple of the islands where you are given a tour and told a little more about how the Uros live. As you approach the islands it does have the strange feel of a theme park as countless tourist wonder the islands and ride around in the traditional reed boats.

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One of the many Uros ladies selling handicrafts on the islands

When we had an opportunity to ride the reed boat we declined as we didn’t have enough money on us, instead waiting on the island which actually turned out to be a blessing as we had a much better experience playing with the friendly Uros children.

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Uros children well pleased with their new pens


Despite the number of tourists a trip to the Uros floating islands is still a must do on a trip to Peru.

Benedict Adam

Trying to travel with the ethos of a backpacker, no matter of budget, whether I'm across the other side of the world or over the road.