Crossing the border between Bolivia and Peru, Lake Titicaca is like nowhere else. Unique islands made of the lake’s reeds and ancient Incan culture make it an unforgettable experience. Here are my tips on how to explore Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian lakeside city of Puno.
As the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca lies at an incredible 3,860 metres above sea level, but it’s not just the setting that makes the lake such a unique destination – it’s also a fascinating insight into traditional Incan culture. To the local indigenous people, Lake Titicaca is a spiritual place where the founders of Incan civilisation are believed to have risen from the water. You can experience this ancient culture by visiting some of the lake’s islands.
Visiting the Floating Islands
Take a boat tour over to the floating islands of Uros. Forty two islands, grouped into Uru-Chipayas, Uru-Muratos and Uru-Iruitos, are constructed from the lake’s reeds, and inhabited by the pre-Incan Uros people who live the way they have for many centuries.
On my trip to the islands, the guide showed me how the reeds are used, as well as how the indigenous people live there. Jumping on the floating island made me recall childhood memories of bouncy castles. For me, these floating islands really are a unique part of the world, where even the dragon boats are made from the lake’s reeds.
Homestay on Taquile
To get to the island of Taquile, I took a boat from Puno and sailed across the lake’s tranquil waters. On reaching the island my group took a short hike to the island’s town where the indigenous Quechuan people go about their daily lives, and where you can see the local community’s colourful hand-woven textiles that are known to be the finest in all of Peru.
We then sailed over to the neighbouring island of Amantani for a homestay. My friend and I stayed a forty-minute walk away from the temple of Pacha Mama, so once we’d settled into our homestay, we walked to the temple for sunset. While staying on the island, experiencing the milky way overhead at night is incredible.
One night, after dinner, the owner gave me one of the local colourful dresses and said that there was a surprise waiting for us. He took us to the local hall for a party with the local people, as well as the tourists that were staying with them. Dressed like the locals, we all joined in with the dancing.
A Stay in Puno
The city of Puno sits on the lake’s shores, so is a great base for island exploration. Most visitors spend their time taking tours of the islands, but if you do have some time in the city, there are a few museums to look around and a huge artisans’ market. I bought some of the tiny dragon boats and woven finger puppets to remind me of my experience. There is a lot to see and buy in Puno.
Across the Lake
To explore the lake further, you can cross the Peru–Bolivia border to see it from Bolivian shores. Stay in the small lakeside town of Copacabana and visit the venerated island of the Sun, Isla del Sol, which has more than 180 sacred Incan ruins.
If you’ve been inspired by my trip to Lake Titicaca, please drop me an email or give me a call to find out more about this unique destination.