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Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca

Posted on the 08 July 2020 by Cheekymeeky
Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca

The Uros floating islands are one of the main attractions in Lake Titicaca. The other one is the Lake Amantani and Taquile island tour.

While researching the Uros floating islands, there were a lot of reviews on TripAdvisor indicating that it seemed like an elaborate act for tourists.

But I had a free day here, and it seemed like I might as well visit the Uros floating islands.

The floating islands are only a thirty-minute boat ride from the port of Puno which makes them highly accessible.

Before the Incas invaded, the Uros were the indigenous population in the area. In order to protect themselves from capture, they built floating islands using reeds from the lake. Unfortunately, the Incas were able to find them and put most of the population into slavery.

Only about a thousand descendants still inhabit the islands and tourism has become a big part of their income. Most of the people in the village are elderly; most of the youngsters have moved on to the mainland to live a modern life.

I did find a few young women around and tried to talk to them about their way of life.

Their lives seem so hard. These people make these islands out of a kind of reed (totoro) that grows on the lake. These islands just look like large lumps of hay floating on the lake. The weeds start rotting in about 20 years time. When the island becomes inhabitable, they abandon their island and build a new one.

The island I visited was about 7 years old. Still, I could spot rotting totoro in a few places, and in one place where I treaded a little heavily, my foot went right through the island!

Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca
How a floating island looks viewed from the boat

The tour of the islands itself is not too long - just about an hour. And most of that was just hanging around the place. The local women were quite friendly. They showed me around the island, invited me to their homes, and even offered to have me dress up in their clothes! I declined the last offer though. I knew those garments would look super-unflattering on me 😂.

The coolest thing was a floating football field, with people playing the beautiful game on a floating island of reeds!

Afterwards, there was a boat ride to a second floating island, which was also pretty similar.

Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca
Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca

This is where the tour started to go slightly sour on me. I thought the boat ride was part of the (paid for) tour, as that was the impression they gave me.

However, as soon as I got out, they started asking for money (cash only). I was running low on forex, and it soon started to become quite embarrassing. I eventually borrowed some money from another tourist and handed it over. But, this experience (added to the pressure to buy their local products) made this tour feel a bit of a tourist trap.

I know the local people are poor and the maintenance of these islands must be really time-consuming and expensive. However, I wish all costs had been a part of the tour package, instead of making me pay in bits and pieces.

Putting these feelings aside, seeing man-made-floating-reed islands that have been around for hundreds of years was actually pretty cool. It's definitely worth spending a half-day visiting this place.

Uros Floating Villages in Lake Titicaca

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