Tairona Inca: Colombia and Peru in 2 Weeks
Day 13: Spending a day at Lake Titicaca with a visit to the Uros Floating Islands, a rowboat and kayak ride around the lake admiring the wildlife and relaxing at Titilaka hotel.
Lake Titicaca, translated as “Rock Puma” for its shape, is the largest lake in South America by volume. It is also known as the highest navigable lake (for large commercial vessels) in the world, with its surface elevation at 3,812 m (12,507 ft).
We started the day by joining the Titilaka tour to the lake after a quick made-to-order breakfast.
Our group included two unconnected couples from Canada. They were very friendly and open to conversation.
Willy, our guide for the day, first took us to a Sunday market that the locals use to barter for goods, crops, fresh fish, and even simple electronics. For the most part the locals didn’t really care that we were wandering around and snapping pictures. It was an interesting insight into the local culture.
Back on the bus we drove to a nearby dock where our boat was waiting for us.
We boarded the boat and started our one hour ride to the islands. Willy gave us an extensive description of the area and history. Blankets warmed our laps as he told us about the Uros people and how they came to live on the islands to escape the invading Spaniards.
Soon we passed reeds growing from the lake and houses started popping up in the distance.
Uros Floating Islands
We docked at one of the villages named Isla Apu Inti Corazon. The inhabitants welcomed and helped us ashore.
The first step onto the reeds was really a strange sensation. The ground sunk under your weight, similar to walking on a sand dune and water squeezed through the reeds with each step.
We were guided into the home of the leader of the island who according to custom is a woman. Almost everything was made of reeds except a mattress and a solar powered television.
The leader’s husband showed us all the crops and food they bartered from the market as well as souvenirs that they make.
Willy translated the questions the man asked us, like our names and professions.
Then the man demonstrated how they create the floating islands and houses with a model and puppets. It’s interesting to note that when a new family is made, they create a new island for the family. If there is a dispute and the family is cut off from the village they are literally cut off from the village and left to float away.
After that the villagers brought us into their respective homes to see the handicrafts they made.
There was a watch tower which we could climb up for some panoramic views over the area.
Finally we all took a boat ride on their “Mercedes” which was a large reed boat that took four months to make. We sat on the top deck as two ladies rowed on the bottom, while a young girl sang songs for us. After which, she would flip her hat over to collect tips. You little rogue you.
After the boat tour, we thanked our hosts and went back to our motorboat.
The way to the port was comfortable as we sat on the top deck sunbathing while sipping on beers. We chatted and got to know our new friends who were also intrepid travelers.
As we neared the port we had to put on a show for the police by moving to the bottom deck and putting on life jackets.
At the port of Puno, we took our van back to the hotel.
After a delicious lunch, we hurried to our next excursion.
Rowing and Kayaking in the Reeds
We utilized both the row boat and kayaks to explore the bay around the hotel. Willy joined us to help with rowing and guide us on the local bird life.
He took us across the bay to the small island that was full of birds and viscachas.
Then we went into the reeds, which at some points got really thick and difficult to maneuver through. We went in deeper in search of birds and nests.
We eventually turned back because it was getting too thick to move through. We did finally find an ibis nest with two little blue eggs in it. The mother ibis wasn’t too happy and kept flying around us in circles.
Back at the hotel, we freshened up before heading to the hotel happy hour. We ordered a couple of pisco sours and relaxed in conversation by the warm fireplace.
Soon enough it was time for dinner.
Besides the wonderful gourmet meal and wine, this dinner was special. It was my brother Sean’s birthday! Towards the end of the meal the lights dimmed and the staff came out singing happy birthday! The whole restaurant joined in and sang together. The chef had prepared a large handmade cake with candles and all.
Sean cut and served the cake to everyone. The exquisite cake was fluffy with freshly made jam between the layers.
We said goodbye to our new friends and went up to our rooms. Sean found a surprise gift of alpaca socks for his birthday, courtesy of Titilaka.
Everyone was tired so we called it a night. An early taxi was arranged the next morning to start our journey to Chivay.
What an intense day at Lake Titicaca!