Home > Peru > A Lake Up in the clouds – Titicaca

A Lake Up in the clouds – Titicaca

7am, Lake Titicaca

Whilst the others went for white water rafting, I opted to go away on my own for a couple of days to check out Lake Titicaca. I had wanted to visit this mystical place since arriving in S America and was afraid I won’t make it. I took an overnight bus from Cusco and reached the city of Puno on the Peruvian shores of Lake Titicaca very early in the morning. The bus station is right by the lake and the sun was about to break through the horizon on the far side of the lake.

After resting for a couple of hours, I went to the harbour to get on a boat trip to the famous reed islands. At 7am, the lake glittered like a sea of diamonds, lit by the rays of the morning sun and fluffy white clouds moved slowly in the gentle breeze. I couldn’t believe my luck. Most people who had visited the lake advised me that it was bound to rain on the Lake and I won’t see anything which would make the trip less worthwhile.

The Uros ladies waving goodbye to our boat

The 20 seater motor boat got started and the guide explained the geography of the lake to a dozen and a half of the tourists. We were English, Australian, Israeli, Danish and even a Peruvian. The guide spoke in both Spanish and English and told us the history of the 60 or so reed islands which are entirely constructed of the reed which grows in abundance in the lake. It is a full time job for the islanders – called Uros – to maintain their floating islands. Fresh Totora reed is cut and woven onto the surface of the islands constantly as the bottom of the layer is constantly disintegrating. The dried reed is used as fuel to cook meals and also to make boats for transport between the islands. The islanders now make a number of nick-nacks with the reed for tourists who visit.

Lunch at Isla de Tequille

It’s quite sad to see the islanders resorting mainly to tourism for their livelihood but that’s also true of a number of cities around the world, however I think the traditional culture of the Uros people must now be extinct as they rely so heavily on the money brought in from the tourists. The Uros speak their own language which is the third officially recognised language – after Spanish and Quechua – in Peru. The islands each house around five to six families and share tasks such as cooking and weaving. I really enjoyed seeing the islands and meeting some of the Uros people.

We got back on the boat and left the islands behind to sail to the island of Tequille around two hours away. Tequille is very small and has stunning views of the lake. From the harbour, we climbed half way up the hilly island to visit a family house who cooked a meal for us. We sat in their garden with breathtaking views of the lake  and had a traditional hearty meal of Quinoa soup followed by pan fried trout served with a wedge of lime and steamed rice, all washed down with a bottle of Cusqeño beer.

The view from Isla de Tequille

After a little rest, we continued the climb up to the main square of the island which was nothing more than a sleepy little plaza surrounded by colonial buildings – a church, a town hall, a school. Local children followed us around to sell weaves and other tack. The view of the lake and other islands from up here was amazing and the sun beat down us hard at more than 3,800 metres above sea level. Soon we climbed back down to the harbour and got back on the boat for the three hour journey back to Puno. It was quite an experience to be on the highest navigable lake in the world!

As we approached Puno, dark clouds gathered above us and as we disembarked at the harbour, hail stones the size of marbles hammered down on us. Lucky with the weather and lucky that my bus company decided to double-book my ticket which meant I had to stay in Puno the night and spent an excellent evening eating and drinking with the fellow travellers I met on the boat!

Categories: Peru Tags: , , , , , ,
  1. April 16, 2011 at 00:47

    Astounding . What an experience! I love reading your posts as I learn a bit more about the world. Keep them coming Shelley! Xx

    • April 16, 2011 at 08:29

      Thanks Geordie – hope you are all well. Would love to see more updates from you in FB. Lots of love to you all – esp little Gretchen!

  2. April 17, 2011 at 02:22

    Lovely post. Now I can ask you for suggestions for places to visit.

  3. Abir
    April 17, 2011 at 04:11

    Lake Titicaca looks absolutely amazing, like a dream place. I feel I want to be there right now. I think you can amalgamate all your posts into a world guide book!

    See you soon,

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