Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
It's not often you come across a floating island though in Lake Titicaca just off the city of Puno in Peru you will find some. The islands are made of reeds which grow abundantly in the lake. Every 6 months or so they have to lift up all the house and other buildings to lay down new reeds since the islands sink ever so slowly. As you walk around you notice that you are not on solid ground still there is a spongy feel to every step. The indigenous life there still maintain their traditions though now with a tourist flavour to it. Even though the floating islands are a little touristy, it is still well worth the visit.
A small group of people, the Uros still survive today in the middle of Lake Titicaca. The Uros have been living on their floating islands for centuries, and used it as defense from colliding with the Inca and Colla cultures, both of which were aggressive. Their isolationist tendencies however have not stopped them from the more recent intermarriage with the Aymara speaking people, so that their numbers did not diminish.
A day cruise includes a visit to the Islas Flotantes which is a fascinating place to visit, you learn how they make the islands, a bit about the culture and Lake Titicaca. You can stay on one of the islands; accommodation is simple but adequate. The best thing about living on the islands is if you do not like your neighbors any more you can simply cut the island in half and float away.
The islands are literally layers and layers of totora reeds that are weaved together. As they rot from the bottom in the water new layers are added. The ground is soft, but be careful that you don't stick your foot through a rotten section. The reeds are also used to build their houses and boats as well as the many crafts that they sell throughout the islands. The reeds are truly at the centre of the Uros peoples' lives.
The Uros keep rabbits, guinea pigs and ducks on the islands, more recently with the introduction of trout from Canada, the Uros have small ponds in the middle of the islands to farm trout as a source of food.
There are a few more islands that are much more isolated where the people live in a more traditional lifestyle and prefer not to be photographed. Tourists can visit if they hire a private boat.
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