Lake Titicaca

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Lake Titicaca

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Review of "Lake Titicaca"

published 20/12/2008 | catsholiday
Member since : 03/03/2003
Reviews : 1976
Members who trust : 413
About me :
Family and days of childminding now keeping me busy but I keep on rating more than writing. Thank you anyone who is kind enough to read then rate my reviews, especially those Es.
Excellent
Pro Being invited to visit authentic local people
Cons Our visits could spoil the Lake for the local people in time
very helpful
Value for Money
Sightseeing
Shopping
Nightlife
Ease of getting around

"Floating on Lake Titicaca"

Lake Titicaca from Hotel in Puno  at dawn

Lake Titicaca from Hotel in Puno at dawn

Puno and the Uros Islands

Lake Titicaca is 3,812 m above sea level which makes it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. It is also the largest lake in South America in volume of water and the deepest point of the lake measures 284m . It lies in both Peru and Bolivia and Lake Titicaca is fed by rainfall and from glaciers on the Andean Sierras. Five major river systems also feed into Lake Titicaca; these are the Ramis, Coata, Ilave, Huancané, and Suchez rivers.

Lake Titicaca is one of the nominees for the New Seven Wonders, natural wonders. If you haven't heard of the New 7 Wonders website the go and have a look. They have recently come up with a New 7 wonders list of man made wonders and are now tasking nomination for the natural wonders - Lake Titicaca is one of these. After they shortlist you can then vote for your 7 natural wonders ( if you didn't vote for the man made 7 wonders, it is too late - the voting has finished).

This is the website if you are interested http://www.new7wonders.com/nature/en/nominees/southamerica/c/LakeTiticacaLa ke

We stayed at the Libertador hotel in Puno which was built in the shape of a liner with all rooms having a view of Lake Titicaca. The views were stunning and we watched both sunset and sunrise from the room. This review looks at the Peru side of Lake Titicaca which is quite different from the Bolivian part of the Lake. The famous floating Uros, reed islands are particularly found in Peru and in the bay near Puno. These are a group of 42 or so artificial islands made of floating reeds (totora, a reed that grows only in the shallows of the lake). Only the Uros islanders are allowed to harvest these reeds as they are protected for their sole use. The original reason these islands were constructed was for defence as they could be moved if required in times of conflict.

Very early at about 6am we boarded a boat to take us out to visit the Uros floating reed islands. The boat went quite slowly so we were able to see the water birds swimming and also the local people rowing their boats along and fishing or collecting reeds for repair work on the islands.

Once we arrived at the islands we went to visit one called Isla Tupiri. We were greeted with huge smiles and welcomed onto the island home. The main leader showed us how they made their islands by creating a mini island with a commentary from our guide. They begin by collected great chunks of reed roots that float and they tie these together with rope. They then layer loads of reeds at reeds at right angles to each other until they have a thick bed. They add to this regularly. They build up platforms of reeds higher than the main island bound together with rope and on these platforms they construct their reed houses. Outside each house a solar panel donated by the government and so inside each house there was a small black and white TV but otherwise every thing else was traditional.

They lived in an extended family group of about 6 families per island and if a marriage takes place then the couple move to the 70% to girl's family and the other 30% move to the boy's family's island. If the group grows too large then they can cut the island in half. If they need to enlarge the island they simply add to it with more floating reed roots, more layers and attach this to the main island with more ropes. The islands are anchored with long ropes to the main land and the ropes are weighed down with stones so that they are not cut by motors boats.

On the larger islands there are schools, post offices and clinics for the island people. The children are collected by boat and taken to the school daily. On the smaller family islands they cook on a stone slab outside the houses and each family does their own cooking. They eat a lot of lake fish, reeds (the bit near the bottom is white and full of nutrition), guinea pig and a little other food that they may purchase from the boat shop or the mainland. They keep the guinea pigs on a mini island attached to their main island and they have a reed shelter too. They also grow some herbs in a small garden on the island which they regard as their medicine cabinet. In the middle of the island is a patch of water and they can catch fish from this area as well as from the main lake.

Nowadays the majority of these floating islands make money from tourism and selling their souvenirs to tourists. There are a few island groups who do not want to be visited by tourists and they have built their islands away from the main group and they are left to their own devices. The majority of island families welcome tourists and put on a little welcome singing performance before showing you their houses and how they live, cook etc. Then you are invited to purchase they hand made embroidery and other souvenirs at reasonable prices. This is how they earn their living in these times to supplement their own fishing and reed harvesting.

The area around Lake Titicaca is predominantly Aymara speaking, with the exception of the Amantaní and Taquile islands, where Quechua is spoken. However, the area to the west of the lake is Quechua, and the lake is the meeting point of these two cultures. The Uros culture also comes from this area, although it has largely died out, and the Uros Islands are now Aymara speaking. We passed a look out tower on or way to the islands with a huge sign " KAMISARAKI" which is Aymara for hello. We were told to say this as we arrived on Isla Tupiri which we duly did - the only word we could say in Aymara -and of course lots of smiling from both the island residents and us - a smile goes a log way when you don't have words to communicate with.

The islands and lake are at a high altitude which means that you do need to be careful during the day to avoid to much sun or where a high factor sunscreen. Because the air is 'thin' the sun's rays are much stronger, then temperature need not feel too hot and so you don't notice that you are burning. The altitude also makes everything so clear and fresh, the sky seems bluer and the lake becomes almost too blue to be true. It is a truly beautiful place and so far despite a large number of tourists it does seem relatively unspoilt.

It is a fascinating visit and even though the islanders do invite for tourists to visit them and buy their craft work it is obvious that they live in a very traditional way ( even with the solar panels for TV) despite these visits and all the other modern technological changes that can be found in the rest of Peru.

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Comments on this review

  • danielclark691 published 11/03/2017
    well reviewed
  • ben-lloyd published 27/08/2010
    Sounds like a fascinating destination
  • Staffenburg published 24/08/2010
    E'd
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Product Information : Lake Titicaca

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Ciao

Listed on Ciao since: 01/06/2005