Lake Titicaca sits on the border between Peru and Bolivia and is approximately 3800m above sea level and known as the highest navigable lake in the world, which in itself is pretty impressive! A visit to this amazing lake should be part of anyones Peruvian itinerary and Puno is the perfect place to stay whilst you are visiting.
There are a number of options for tours of Lake Titicaca, including a half day tour and a two day tour. I personally think a full day tour of Lake Titicaca fits in perfectly to any trip. Using Find Local Trips is an easy way to find the perfect trip for you. Our trip was with Kollasuyo Travel, costing only £16 and there is so much included in the price of the tour.
If you are staying in Puno then your pick up will be included in the price of your tour. Once you notify the company of where you are staying they will give you an estimated pick up time. A lady collected us perfectly on time and took us to a little mini bus which after picking up a few more people drove us down to Lake Titicaca with our guide. Here we got onto our boat, which meant climbing across a few others to get there, luckily with plenty of people on hand to help you out.
Whilst waiting for our boat to set off we were kept occupied with some light entertainment of the locals performing for us, singing and playing instruments which was a nice touch.
Uros Floating Islands
The first stop on the full day tour was the Uros Floating Islands, home to the indigenous Uru people. They make the islands out of stacks of reeds that grow on Lake Titicaca and they live there permanently. We were welcomed to one of the islands by its inhabitants who sang to us in their native tongue. We had the history of the islands explained to us including how the islands were made. Amazingly they have to top up the reeds fairly often as the island will otherwise start to sink as the bottom reeds get wet. If you jump up and down you can feel the whole island move.
We were then free to walk around the island, looking inside their houses made of reeds and asking the locals questions about their lives. It helps if you speak some Spanish as they know little English. The people of Uros surprisingly have access to solar power and one hut even had a TV in it so don’t be mistaken and think these people are living in the past. They take regular trips back to the mainland to get food and supplies but their main income comes from the tourism of the islands.
There is then the opportunity to pay 10 soles and get a trip around the Lake in one of their handmade reed boats. Made from the same reeds as their island these boats can hold 40 people and are incredibly colourful. Most of the islands are made up of one extended family but there are a few communal islands with schools and hostels. One of which you get to visit as part of this tour. You can also get your passport stamped!
The Island of Taquile is one of the bigger islands on Lake Titicaca and was the last stop on the full day tour. After being dropped off on one side of the island you start the incredibly slow ascent up to the main village. Luckily the tour guide gives you plenty of time to walk up this steep hill, which at around 3800m above sea level, takes a lot of effort, even for the fittest of people. We were lucky enough to visit on a perfectly clear day and the views behind us were beyond stunning and a great excuse for needing to keep stopping as we made our way up the hill.
Once the history of the island was explained to us by our tour guide we were then shown to a small cluster of houses where lunch was being prepared. With a view of Lake Titicaca our tour group enjoyed a two course lunch which included a freshly made soup followed by a delicious grilled trout. The food was amazing and we were even given a special tea afterwards infused with a local plant which is thought to help with digestion. After eating lunch and taking in the surroundings the people who made our lunch helped explain some of the islands traditions and history.
We were given a demonstration of how textiles were made from the preparation and dyeing of the wool to then weaving it into garments to wear. Interestingly men feature heavily in the weaving on the island. Making themselves hats they demonstrate to the women that they are a good weaver and an eligible husband. Those inhabitants which are married wear different coloured hats to show this to everyone.
We continued our walk to the main square where there was a church and other buildings you would expect to find in any normal town. The favourite part of the square was a signpost which showed how far away the island was from big cities around the world. The continued walk (thankfully downhill) went around the other side of the island and the views somehow got even better.
Once everyone had made it back to the boat it was time to head back to the harbour. There was space to sit on top of the boat where I managed to get a few last minute photos of Lake Titicaca. A minibus was waiting for us as we got off the boat and we were taken back to our hotels.
The full day tour of Lake Titicaca was relaxing and incredibly informative. With pick up and drop off included, an amazing English speaking tour guide, a trip not only to the Uros Islands but also the Island of Taquile AND a lunch. There really is no reason not to book yourself one of these amazing tours. If I had longer in Peru I would have considered the two day tour with the overnight stay. The people of Uros were incredibly welcoming and I am sure staying with them on the island would have been an experience not to miss.
Have you visited Lake Titicaca? What did you enjoy the most about your visit?