The Floating Islands

The Uros people of Lake Titicaca have quite a unique habitat, comprised of several floating islands that are hand-made out of dried totora reeds.

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The Uros are pre-Incan people who originally made these floating islands as a defense mechanism so that if there was a threat, they could easily move around. They use dried totora reeds to not only make the islands and huts but also boats with which they travel to other islands for trade, sending their children to school and fishing.

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The islands are anchored with ropes attached to sticks that are driven to the bottom of the lake. The reeds at the bottom of Β the islands do rot away fairly quickly which means new reeds need to be added on top quite often; about every three months. Even though these islands can last up to 30 years, this one I visited was quite new as their previous one began to sink after just a year!

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Can we please talk about this little pink blob for a second? I found her rolling around behind one of the huts, clearly not able to walk yet.

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Some of the bigger islands can hold up to 10 families but most, like the one I visited, hold about 3-4.

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It’s amazing how little fear these children on the island have; leaping from one boat to the other without a care, giggling, pushing and pulling each other. And more than anything, wanting you to join in on all the fun as well!

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As with most places in Peru that travellers visit, there are hand-made goods on offer for you to uythat help the local community.

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Did I mention how absolutely freezing it was on this island? With incredibly strong winds and an even stronger sun! The Uros people would traditional say that they had ‘black blood’ as they did not feel the cold.

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These islands and this lifestyle is so far from anything that is familiar to me and to anyone else for that matter. They are fast becoming a tourist hot-spot which although does provide financial opportunities for the Uros people, is also detrimental to their natural habitat. With so many people visiting the islands, the reeds are damaged at a much faster pace which means more work to maintain their home.

Lake Titicaca and the floating islands of the Uros people was my last stop in Peru as the shores of the lake brought me to my first border crossing and next destination, Bolivia.

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