Forbes Travel Notes – Reviews, features & travel notes

Gathering Reeds1

Floating – and selling – on Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca is said to be the highest navigable lake in the world – well there are a number of interesting facts and figures about this mass of water. But the simple truth is that it is a vast and fascinating place, shared between Peru and Bolivia and home to a number of different cultures and languages.
Looking out from shore one can make out the floating Uros islands, a group of manmade islands that have been part of this landscape for centuries.

A visit is inevitable and well worth it, but this archipelago of reed islands are far from being lost in time.
Despite initial appearances of an isolated people making a meagre living, the islands are in fact an integral part of the local economy.
Boats trips to visit the islands, overnight stays, merchandise and tips all combine to create a significant business.

Despite the commercial nature of these once isolated people, it’s still amazing to see the islands and walk on their spongey, soft surfaces.

Constructed from local Totora reed and using methods that pre date the Incas, the islands are stable, long lasting homes for the Uros people. A few 21st century touches are visible like small solar panels to run their portable cd players and old TVs, plus their once drab clothing is now bright and tourist friendly.

Once simple fishing communities, they are now part of the tourist industry but they have managed to retain their skills in crafting and maintaining their islands, boats and homes. They also proudly retain their Quechua language and customs – although when presenting handcrafts it’s surprising how linguistically dextrous they become to close a sale!
New additions include a school, healthcare and B&Bs but most structures are still in the original style and all are still based on these remarkable floating islands, anchored amongst the reed beds by long canes.
The islands are astounding to visit and if the price of survival for this community is selling imported trinkets and tapestries and offering boat trips to curious tourists then maybe, just maybe it’s a price worth paying.

1 person likes this post.

  1. Sandra Wrightson
    Sandra WrightsonApr 19, 2011

    Hi Andrew and Rafa, the pictures are amazing especially Macchu Pichu. My sister travelled the world and hated every minute of it with the sole exception of the Inca trail. We are all very jealous here and hope you enjoy every minute.

  2. foodblogandthedog
    foodblogandthedogApr 19, 2011

    I love reading your posts, I wish I was there. Your photos are amazing. Not sure about the guinea pig stir fry though! Looking forward to the next installment xx 😀

  3. Caroline
    CarolineApr 23, 2011

    Andrew the photography is amazing.  I am so enjoying this and also enjoy seeing Rafa’s pictures that give another feel of your trip.  This is amazing.
    I hope you are bothing doing okay.  This must be incredibly tiring.  I trust you are taking some time to just “sit” and do nothing.
    Thinking of you all the time.

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About the Author

Andrew ForbesTravel and Lifestyle Marketing Communications Consultant | Travel Editor and Content Writer Web: Twitter: @andrewaforbes Instagram: @andrewaforbes and @luxurynavigatorView all posts by Andrew Forbes »