Reed Boat, Lake Titcaca
Uros Islands Tour – Getting There
My Altitude Sickness in Puno caused us to be temporarily separated from our Intrepid Travel Group. So, we used a local service for an Uros Islands Tour. The tour is the premier attraction when visiting the Puno area. The islands are a short distance from Puno by boat at low speed through the reed growth. These islands are man-made. They are constructed from reeds by native Ayamara speaking pre-Inca indigenous peoples. Tours run daily from a number of Puno hotels or from the harbor. The tour takes less than four hours. The Uros control all visitor traffic to the area. They have worked out a schedule that allows all islanders to participate in the benefits of tourism. Tour boats are assigned to visit one specific family. In the past, the Uros survived on fish and reeds, but today tourism has a major impact on their life style.
Uros Islands Greeting
Uros Islands Tour – Family Visit
Our Uros host family greeted us as we arrived at their reed platform. The elected leader of the extended family acted as our tour guide. He provided information and led demonstrations on their life style. He explained that the Islands are anchored in up to 50 feet of water in the reed bed areas of Lake Titicaca. The family then demonstrated how they build a lattice work of totora reeds to create a flat living surface. The Uros walk barefoot on the surface. The reeds are also used to build their shelters and their boats. Plus they explained that the reeds are edible too. Then they showed us how they prepare the small fish they catch in the lake.
Next they invited us inside their shelters. They gave us traditional clothing to put on and encouraged us to take pictures. They also answered questions. We asked how they keep their children safe from the deep, cold waters of the lake. They explained that they teach their children to swim before they learn to walk. They use plastic bottles in place of life jackets.