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One of my favorite places when I visited Peru in April was the famous Lake Titicaca in Puno. At 12,500 feet above sea level and nestled between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. The lake has a fascinating history: Incan mythology cites it as the place from which the rest of the world emerged. On any trip to Peru a visit to Lake Titicaca is a must-do, and make sure to wake up early enough one morning to catch a beautiful sunrise over the lake.
Lake Titicaca is the largest navigable lake in the world. It's worth taking advantage of it's navigability to find your way onto a boat to Isla Taquile from Puno. The island is inhabited by a cooperative society of people who welcome travelers to their terraced island where they grow several varieties of potatoes and corn. Climb to the top to one the many restaurants built upon these terraces and enjoy a lunch overlooking the expanse of Lake Titicaca.
Last year my husband and I were lucky enough to visit the fascinating Lake Titicaca. We were there for three days and we decided that we wanted to spend one of those days traveling around the area to see what life was like outside the touristy Lake Titicaca area. So we hired a local guide and asked him to take us to his favorite local towns. The highlight of the day, though, was when our guide, understanding who interested we were in seeing what daily life is like in rural Peru, made an impromptu stop at his friend's house so we could meet him and his family. They couldn't have been more generous and welcomed us into their home with smiles all around. One of the most interesting things was the way in which they cooked their meals over a cooking fire, which they were happy to show us how to do. That day traveling around Juliaca, Lampas, and Juli with a guide was one of our favorites of the trip!
During a trip to Peru's Lake Titicaca, my husband and I debated whether to visit the Uros Floating Islands - we'd received mixed reviews from travelers who had already visited the islands. We decided to give it a shot and hired a private boat to get to the islands since it wasn't much more expensive than a group boat and we could be a bit more on our schedule. We were so glad we decided to visit the Uros Islands! Aside from learning about the Uros people's fascinating culture, one of the young Uros men, seeing how interested we were in their way of life, treated us to a really special experience - a boat ride in his traditional Uros reed boat! When in the Lake Titicaca region, I definitely suggest you check out the Uros Floating Islands, despite anything negative you might hear from others who've visited them before. It's a glimpse into a life lived literally on a lake, and it's unlike anything I've seen before or since.
Last year when visiting Peru's beautiful Lake Titicaca, my husband and I went back and forth about whether to visit the lake's famous Uros Floating Islands. We'd received mixed reviews from travelers who'd already visited the islands. Ultimately we decided to give it a shot and hired a private boat for the trip to the islands as it didn't cost much more than a group boat and the owner catered more to our schedule and interests. Our decision to visit the Uros Floating Islands was one of the best we made during our trip. Aside from learning about the Uros people's fascinating culture, one of the young Uros men, seeing how interested we were in learning about how the Uros live on their reed islands, treated us to a really special experience - a ride in his traditional reed boat! When visiting Lake Titicaca, I definitely would suggest that you visit the Uros Floating Islands for a glimpse at a life lived literally on a lake. It was unlike anything I'd seen before or since.
Strolling through Puno, Peru, on the banks of the fascinating Lake Titicaca, we passed many stores displaying produce and fish for sale, but nothing looked or smelled as tempting as this freshly-baked bread. Curious to find out if it tasted as good as it looked, my husband and I bought a loaf and took it with us back to our hotel. Sure enough, the bread was even better than it looked: crisp and flaky on the outside, soft and tender on the inside. No matter what country you're in, nothing beats the taste and smell of fresh bread.
About 2,000 people in the Uros tribe live on large floating islands made of reed in the middle of Lake Titicaca - the highest navigable lake in the world. Each island is controlled by a family with its own mayor. The lovely and gracious people live year-round in reed huts through harsh winters and brutal summers at high altitude. While many feel the tourism that has become a routine part of Uro life takes advantage of the Uro people, the money helps them maintain their community and provide for their families.
When my husband and I visited Peru's Lake Titicaca in March 2011, we couldn't decide whether or not to take a trip out to the Uros Floating Islands. People who'd been there before us had offered mixed reviews. But we decided to give it a go and we were so happy we did! Aside from learning about the interesting culture of the Uros people, we were also able to take a once-in-a-lifetime boat ride in a traditional Uros reed boat. I loved this building's sunny yellow roof and door - it matched the cheerful attitude of the Uros people we met, who offered nothing but smiles. I highly recommend a trip to the Uros Floating Islands if you visit Lake Titicaca.
A view of Lake Titicaca, the town of Puno and the statue of Manco Capac. This picture was taken from Huajsapata Park completely worth the walk (or cab ride) up the steep hill.
Aside from exploring the most well-known attraction of Puno, Peru - the fascinating Lake Titicaca - the town is also a great place to watch the local Peruvian people go about their daily routines. I loved the colorful traditional clothing and boller hats (called "bombins" in Spanish) that Peruvian women wear, like these two women who appeared to be enjoying each other's company on a casual afternoon stroll through town. Peru truly is a feast for the senses, with Puno and the areas around Lake Titicaca being some of the most colorful and interesting Peru has to offer.
The Uru are a pre-columbian people who originally relocated their settlements onto floating islands in order to isolate themselves from potential aggressors. The floating islands of Uros consist of more than 40 individual islands each made out of bundled reeds. The Uru are extremely resourceful and have also fashioned boats, houses, beds, watch towers and even medicine from the reeds that grow naturally in Lake Titicaca. Upon visiting the islands (tours can be purchased in Puno) it is possible to receive a demonstration as to how the islands are made and maintained. For an extra 10 soles you can take a short boat ride on one of the handmade reed boats. A true highlight!
They are a half hour boat ride on Lake Titicaca from the town of Puno in the Andean Highlands and like nothing you have ever seen. La Isla Uros are man-made islands formed in a ring of about twenty. They are formed by the tribespeople laying down layer of reed upon reed upon reed, year after year to create islands about 3 meters thick. Residents of each island consist of six families who welcome tourists and share their way of life: fishing for food, weaving and needlework for income, and dancing and signing for celebrating.
When going to Amantani, a small island on Lake Titicaca in Peru, the last thing we expected was a massive party in the town square, but that is exactly what we got. My husband and I walked to the dock at Puno and spoke with some of the boat captains there to arrange a ride to the small "Island of Kantuta." There, they arranged for us to stay with a local family, and although we did not speak Quechua, we wanted to see the school and library that was being built. Since we did not organize our visit through a tour company, we did not expect any pomp and circumstance upon our arrival. When we arrived that evening, we went on a hike to see some Inca ruins, which were beautiful and felt rather devastating. After changing at our adobe homestay, we wandered into the town square, being lured there by the sound of horn instruments, drums, and excitement. There, it felt like the whole island was celebrating, drinking, and dancing. Our favorite person to watch, however, was this older woman who was literally pouring alcohol down everyone's throats in between makeout sessions with an older man. She was having an absolute ball and we only wish that we had her energy. We never did discover what all of the excitement was about, but we loved being included!
Last year, my husband and I visited Peru's magical Lake Titicaca for three days. We decided to spend one of those days traveling around the area to see what life was like beyond the touristy areas. We hired a local guide and asked him to take us to his favorite local towns around Lake Titicaca. The highlight of the day for us was when our guide, knowing how interested we were to learn about daily life around the region, made an impromptu stop at his friend's house so we could meet him and his family. They welcomed us into their home with big smiles and couldn't have been more generous. I especially enjoyed when they showed us how they spin raw alpaca fibers into yarn and then weave the beautiful carpets you see throughout Peru. That day we spent driving around Juliaca, Lampas, and Juli with our guide was one of our favorites of the trip!
In Puno, on shores of Lake Titicaca, the air is thin. Just walking can be an issue of mind over matter, as headaches and even nausea due to lack of oxygen can make the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other a challenge. As I slowly acclimatized to this challenging environment I realized that the sliver of lake barely visible through my hotel room window wasn't the only thing of beauty to be found in this small, bustling city. All around me women, men and children went about their business in astonishingly beautiful, handmade traditional clothing. From the homemade woven and dyed materials, to the long, black, horse tail-like braids, to the tiny bowler hats sitting atop each woman's head, I felt like I was in the middle of a cloud of confetti. Against the clearest, brightest, closest blue sky I've ever experienced, these bursts of color nearly took my breath away. Lake? What lake? To experience this for yourself, just go to Puno, step out the door of your hotel and start a'walking.
This amazing trek runs beneath the sacred Salkantay mountain (6.271m/20569ft), one of the highest and most stunning in the Peruvian Andes, passing through Quechua communities and lesser-known Inca ruins, to finally reach Aguas Calientes on the fourth day. The impressive Sacred Inca city of Machupicchu is visited on the last day of the program. This itinerary is an interesting alternative for those not having found spaces on the Inca Trail trek to Machupicchu.
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