Known as the Floating Islands, Islas los Uros are man-made islands woven together with totora reeds that grow in the lake shallows. Replenished often with layers because the underbelly reeds rot, these tiny islands resemble floating bails of hay and average 3 meters (10 feet) thick. They were originally created so communities could escape from attacks from stronger, more aggresive neighbors. Today they stay in one place. Trips typically take 30 minutes and can be arranged from the port in the Puno Bay or with a guide through one of the many agencies in town. While some travelers marvel at these 40-plus islands, some call them floating souvenir stands. Yes, locals sell trinkets, but visiting the floating islands is a glimpse into one of the region's oldest cultures, the Uros. Now mixed with Aymara culture, it's a form of human habitation that evolved over centuries. The closest group of "floating museums" is 7 km (4.35 miles) from Puno.
The islanders make their living by fishing, hunting, cutting reeds, collecting eggs, trapping birds, and selling visitors well-made miniature reed boats and other handicrafts. You can hire an islander to take you for a ride in a reed boat.
Dec 27, 2013
My husband and I traveled to the Floating Islands as part of a tour group through Gate 1 Travel. We had an excellent tour guide who lives in Puno and he was very knowledgeable about the customs and life on these islands. It was amazing to see how these people live the same way their ancestors did, but they do make changes to keep up with modern life in Peru. We were welcomed into their homes, treated to a "show and tell" of their building materials,
foods, tools, and customs. Yes, we were asked to buy locally produced souvenirs, but it was a small price to pay to witness first hand their way of life.