On Lake Titicaca, located just 7 kms from Puno you will find over 60 islands made from living Totora reeds floating on the lake. Because the reeds rot from the bottom, the Uros people consistently place reeds on top to avoid their islands sinking. As a result, you will find the ground is always soft and springy. The Uros people also use the Totora reeds to make boats, furniture and homes.
For centuries the Uros people have been living on the lake. For many years visiting the Uros Islands was a challenge, given that most of the islands were located approximately 15 kms out into the lake. However, due to unfortunate storm devastation in 1986, many Uros people had to re build their homes. Many of them chose to do this closer to the shore near Puno. Nowadays, locals make a living from fishing, selling their handicrafts and providing island tours for tourists
Now that the Uros Islands are closer, they have become a unique tourist attraction offering an unparalleled cultural experience. The Uros people who choose not to be a part of this eco tourism prefer to live further away from Puno found via a maze of small channels accessed by private boat. Here, the Uros people still live in a very traditional way preferring not to be photographed. In contrast, there are many who happily share their culture and traditions with tourists. Local guides showcase their islands by boat to approximately 200,000 visitors a year. There are plenty of opportunities for visitors to take pictures, purchase trinkets and even spend the night on the islands.
Taking a tour to the Uros islands is a ‘must do’ if you are visiting Peru or Bolivia. Being able to witness one of South America’s longest surviving cultural groups living an almost traditional life is truly unique experience.