There is only one place in the world where you can sail on a majestic long boat made of reeds to reach an island made of the same reeds and walk, eat or even sleep on it, together with people who have lived there for many generations.
Travelling across Peru, I reached the city of Puno from Juliaca by local bus. Puno is located on the shores of Titicaca Lake (3809 m.a.s.l.) on which Peru and Bolivia share sovereignty.
From Puno port I joined an unique excursion to the artificial Uros Pachamama (“World Mother”) archipelago, inhabited by the Uros, descendant of pre-Incan people.
The Uros built these artificial floating islands (Islas Flotantes) to escape a war with the Inca and other tribes. Later, during the colonial period, they had been able to live away from the conquistadors, preserving their culture and traditions for centuries.
The Islas Flotantes:
- they are made of floating dried reeds: these kind of plants grow profusely in the shallows of the lake;
- the reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away quickly: new reeds are added to the top about every three months to maintain the island;
- they are anchored with ropes attached to sticks driven into the bottom of the lake: they can be moved around if needed;
- each island, depending on its size, house two or more families (up to ten on biggest ones);
- some of the houses have solar panel to run eletronic appliances;
- the Uros move from one island to the other both with motorboats or with their long boats made of the same dried reeds;
- the children attend traditional school on some islands and they move to the mainland for enroling in high school and university;
- the main activities of the natives are bird’s hunting and fishing but nowadays turism is the main source of income for the few of them still leaving and maintaining the islands trying to preserve their traditional lifestyle.
Women in their traditional clothes