The incredible Uros Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca

  • Bunnik Tours
  • 26 Nov 20

Famously recognised as the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca is a breathtaking sight to behold. But its beauty extends beyond the stunning panoramas of its ancient blue waters to a world believed to be 3 million years old, where one can still witness the pre-Inca traditions of the local inhabitants.

Uros Island, Peru by Marion Bunnik

Uros Island, Peru by Marion Bunnik

Lake Titicaca straddles both Peru and Bolivia and sits at an altitude of 3,812 metres. As South America’s largest lake, it covers an area of 8,371 square metres, with a maximum depth of 281 metres and holding approximately 892 cubic kilometres of water. But what really makes this lake a must-see destination is the 41 different islands spread throughout the lake and the intriguing locals that inhabit the majority of them. Let us transport you to the Uros Islands, one of the most fascinating sights, also known as the Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca.

Uros Islands by Belmond Images

Photo credit: Belmond Images

Comprising of around 120 individual, man-made islands and growing, each one is constructed from totora reeds found within the lake. The indigenous Uros tribe of Peru and Bolivia, began building their reed houses when land was scarce, and the mobility of the islands offered them protection from other tribes. Today the tradition continues, making more homes and even furniture from this hardy plant.

 

Uros Islands by Paul Cook

Photo credit: Paul Cook

Each island covers an area of approximately 15 square metres, being tied to one another as well as anchoring to the lake’s bed, by rope cables. The main island even features a radio station, while another is home to a watch tower.

The structures require constant maintenance and every 30 years the inhabitants must begin work on a new island from scratch.  Interestingly the decomposition of the reeds actually produces gases that assist with the buoyancy of the islands.

Uros Islands by Annalise (223)

Photo credit: Annelies Visser

Uros Islands by Annalise (142)

Photo credit: Annelies Visser

While the islands were once located over 14 kilometres from the mainland, following a disastrous storm in 1986, many of the islands were rebuilt much closer to Puno, the largest city surrounding the lake.

The main activities of the people include fishing, weaving and handicrafts, which are then sold to visitors, and with 80% of locals working in tourism, it is the perfect place to pick up some fantastic souvenirs while supporting their community.  

Uros Islands by Marion Bunnik (23)

Photo credit: Marion Bunnik

Uros Islands by Annelies Visser (118)

Photo credit: Annelies Visser

You can be captivated by these extraordinary islands and their intriguing inhabitants on a number of our South America small group tours here.

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