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Floating on Lake Titicaca with the Uros Tribe
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.

Trout "La Trucha" Farms at the Tupirmarka Lodge
These trout farms were right outside our lodging door. The fresh catch made for a delicious meal by our hosts.

Once-In-a-Lifetime Boat Ride
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.

Floating Islands
The Uru are a pre-Columbian people who built settlements on floating islands in order to isolate themselves from potential aggressors. This archipelago of floating islands consists of approximately 40 individual islands made entirely of reeds. The Uru are extremely resourceful and fashion boats, houses, beds, watch towers and even medicine from the naturally abundant reeds. Upon visiting the islands you will receive a demonstration as to how the islands are made and maintained. For an additional 10 soles you can take a short boat ride on one of their handmade boats. A true highlight!

Sunny Yellow on the Uros Islands
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.

Welcome to the Uros Islands
Our Tupirmarka Lodge host met us at the side of the road where we, along with our luggage, were put into a wooden boat and rowed out to the islands for our two-night stay. Upon making our way through a dense set of reeds, we encountered the colorful "greeters" to whom we owed a small tariff for our tourism on the islands. It was an exciting start to a few days of living the way of the Uros on their floating reed islands.

Strolling Through Puno
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.

Lake Titicaca Bread
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.

Lake Titicaca is spectacular, but so are the local women in their traditional handmade clothing. And don't forget the bowler hats!
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.

Puno, Peru