After an 8 hour bus ride on my way into Arequipa, I decided to stop in the town of Puno. Puno is basically on the border of Bolivia and Peru. In fact, the town of Puno is most often used as the entrance point for many people trekking into Bolivia. It also sits on Lake Titicaca (pronounced “tee tee ka ka”) which is the world’s highest navigable lake at 12,500 feet (3,810 m) above sea level and is the second largest lake of South America (after Maracaibo).
The town of Puno itself is not the prettiest place to be, but its worth stopping to take the one day trek to visit the Uros Tribe on their man made floating reed islands.
The islands are made of woven tortora reeds that grow everywhere on the Peruvian side of the lake. The Islanders also eat thee reeds and sell them in the markets of Puno. They cut 2 meter squared chunks of mud from the root systems of the reeds, which basically makes the islands float. The large square shaped chunks of soil are then anchored with rope and driven into the bottom of the lake using large sticks.
The reeds at the bottoms of the islands rot away fairly quickly, so new reeds are added to the top to compensate. The islands last about 30 years. The larger islands inhabit about 10 families, and the smaller ones, which are about 30 meters wide, inhabit only two or three. There are currently about 50 floating islands located on Lake Titicaca and around 3,000 descendants of the Uro’s are alive today, but only a few hundred still live on and maintain the islands.
The history of the Uro’s people is that they initially made the islands to escape the Inca’s who were dominating the mainland during the time. The Uro traded with the Aymara tribe on the mainland, and interbreed with them and eventually abandoned the Uro language for the the language of the Aymara.
It was pretty fascinating to see. Check out the You Tube video above of my experience and please leave comments.
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