Puno and Lake Titicaca

We will spend two days in the region of Puno visiting three distinct Island cultures.

The featured image above shows one of the floating islands of the Uros people. Since ancient times these people have built islands using the totora reed and have constructed houses and other enclosures on them. They used the same reed to build boats, though today most of their transportation comes in the form of modern motorboats. You will see some of the traditional boats built for display, and may even get to ride in one!

Totora reed used to build the floating islands

The roots of the totora reed naturally clump together. By cutting these boyant root clumps into large sections and tying the clumps together, the Uros people create a floating foundation for their “island.” Loose reeds, and sometimes mats woven from them, are placed on top. With time these wear down and are replaced by more of the same.

In the picture you can see the internal structure of the reed filled with air pockets.

Cantuta Flower
This picture of the Cantuta flower was taken near the Korikancha in Cuzco, not on Amantani.

We will visit Amantani, a natural island, on the same day as our visit to the Uros islands. The island is home to nearly 4000 Quechua speaking people. It has two mountain peaks, Pachatata (“father earth”) and Pachamama (“mother earth”). The peak of each has ancient Inca and Tiwanaku ruins. The hillsides are terraced for agriculture, mostly done by hand. You will see alpacas grazing the slopes.

Amantani is sometimes called the “Island of the Cantuta”, after the national flower of both Peru and Bolivia. The flower grows plentifully on the island.

The following day we will visit the slightly smaller Island of Taquile. In 2005 UNESCO proclaimed the inhabitants of the island to be “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” due to the distinctive social organization and cultural heritage of the island. We will have the opportunity to learn more about this distinctive culture firsthand.