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© 2008 Mark Collins
Peru 2004 - Day 12, Lake Titicaca
I had been looking forward to seeing Lake Titicaca enormously. I remember being fascinated by the stories of this enormous high altitude lake when at primary school. I was not disappointed!
Lake Titicaca is the world's highest lake navigable to large vessels, lying at 12,500 feet (3,810 m) above sea level in the Andes Mountains, astride the border between Peru to the west and Bolivia to the east. Titicaca is the second largest lake of South America (after Maracaibo).
Our guide on lake Titicaca was Gilbert, who was extremely knowledgeable and spoke very good English. Here is a view of an old steamship and railway carriages just after we had set out on a day trip on the lake.
|The lake is vast and covers some 3,200 square miles (8,300 square km) and extends in a northwest-to-southeast direction for a distance of 120 miles (190 km). It is 50 miles (80 km) across at its widest point. A narrow strait, Tiquina, separates the lake into two bodies of water. |
Here we are arriving on the floating island of the Uros, reached after a short ride on the boat from Puno. The people greeted us by giving us each a little sewn bracelet.
The floating islands are man-made, created from cane, or cane-brake (totora), and tethered to the reeds below. The Uros seem able to use these totora reeds for almost anything, building their islands, huts and boats from them. They even eat part of them - as was demonstrated to us!
|After an short talk about the floating islands from Gilbert in the school room, which is actually built on pontoons and moored to the island, the island children treated us to a short song - we responded by singing them one! The children were very photogenic! Walking around on the squishy surface was very strange, and it is hard to imagine living here.|
I found this very interesting article about the life of these people on the internet here.
The children were playing with this little kitten, which seemed quite at home here in the middle of the lake!
The Ibis seemed quite tame too, there were several standing around the edge of the island.
|The tourists bring an important income to the Uros people, and they are very keen to demonstrate their way of life to visitors. |
Here flour is being made using stone to crush the grain.
Below the arts of making model boats and rope are being demonstrated.
After exploring the island, we were offered a short ride on a reed boat to the neighbouring island, for a small charge. We jumped at the chance and here are Steve and Sue sitting beneath the cat shaped figure head.
The next island had a huge Ibis constructed of the reeds dominating the view - also notice the reeds hung up to dry on ropes hung between poles decorated with Llama heads.
|Here is yours truly on the boat to prove I was there!|
The Uros use these clay fireplaces to cook on - I wonder if they ever have fires with all those dry reeds?
This young lad is clearly amused to be pointing his toy camera back at me!
After leaving the floating islands we headed out towards the main lake through channels cut into the reed beds.
Our next and final destination for the day is the beautiful Taquile Island, which takes four hours to reach by boat.
Once there, it felt, apart from the high altitude, rather like arriving at a mediteranean island - hot sunshine, the blue lake all around and exotic flowers. Quite lovely.
We landed on a small jetty near this path, which is the easy walk into the main village, although this was rather steep in places!
This happy little soul seems to enjoy being here.
|Here is Alan absorbing the view.|
As we walked up the path I took several pictures of plants and flowers along the way.
As we approached the main village we could hear the beat of music; we had been told that we were fortunate in that there was a dancing festival in progress, something to do with Easter celebrations.
Once we arrived in the square it was teeming with dancers in bright costumes and the music from the band was deafening. It was like entering another world after the peace and quiet of the walk up from the boat!
Here is a small selection of the many photos I took of the celebrations.
After a lunch of fresh fish from the lake, still accompanied by the music from outside, we departed for the boat. This time we took the route to the closer mooring, the boat having been moved around the island during lunch.
This is a much steeper route, using steep steps cut into the side of the island. Here are a couple of views looking down from the top of the steps.
The boat journey back seemed interminable, but a price well worth paying for visiting such a special place.
The final picture is of the sun going down as we made our way back into the reed bay of the Uros islands.