Lake Titicaca – Uros and Isla del Sol

Posted: August 25, 2011 in Bolivia, Peru

From Cusco I caught a 6 hour bus ride to Puno, to visit Lake Titicaca, which sits on the border of Peru and Bolivia. The lake is 3,811 m above sea level, making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. It is also the largest lake in South America by volume, Lake Maracaibo is larger in surface area.

The journey was quite uneventful other than the normal swerving to miss stray dogs, overloaded minibuses and herd of sheep/cows. En route we stopped for dinner, which was soup, chicken/rice/chips and a cup of tea for 75p!

Arriving pretty late I caught a tut tut to the hostel for an early night, as the Uros floating island tour started at 7.00am the following morning.

The Uros “floating islands” a group of 40 + artificial islands made of floating totora reeds, which grow abundantly in the shallows of the lake. Their original purpose was defensive, and they could be moved if a threat arose. Many of the islands contain watchtowers largely constructed of reeds. Each Island has 2/3 family units, fishing, boat building and weaving fabrics are the main trade of Islanders, which is topped up VERY nicely with visiting camera happy tourists.

The following day I visited Isla del Sol from Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the border, is one of the lake’s largest islands. It is a dry place and the terrain is difficult; rocky and hilly. There are no cars/buses or paved roads on the island, so transport is by foot or ferry boat. The main income for the 800 odd families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy.

The main visitor attraction is the 180 ruins on the island. most  dating to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD. Among the ruins on the island are the Sacred Rock, a labyrinth-like building called Chicana, Kasa Pata, and Pilco Kaima. In the religion of the Incans it was believed that the Sun God was born here, hence “Island of the Sun.”

I booked into a hostel with magnificent view of the lake and sun rise over Isla de la Luna, which is situated to the east. According to legends that refer to Inca mythology again, Isla de la Luna (“Island of the Moon”) is where Viracocha commanded the rising of the moon.

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