South America Chronicles: Floating homes in Uros Island, Lake Titicaca

Young Family living in one of the Islands.

Right in the middle of the Lake Titicaca (the largest lake in South America who divides Bolivia and Peru’) still live a community called the “Uros” or “Uru”. 

The Uros literally built their home in the middle of the lake by using a reed that grows in the Titicaca adding layers after layers and then anchored the island to the bottom of the lake.

How to reach the Uros Floating Island:

All the departures are from the port of Puno by boat and it takes around 20 minutes to reach the Islands.

First you will need to get to Puno: I went from Cusco to Puno, 7 hours bus trip and it was amazing!

The bus is super comfortable and has big and comfy chairs: you have the toilet inside but in any case case the bus stops several times on the way, not to mention the breathtaking view you get to see while road tripping.

Lake Titicaca from the boat

Building their home in the middle of the Titicaca Lake

The Uros started the tradition of building floating home to defend themselves from hostile enemies and preserve their culture away from foreign rule and discrimination.

The Uros people are one of the oldest ethnic groups in the Andes and still practice many traditional ways of life with modern additions: many homes now have electricity thanks to the solar panels provided by the Peruvian Government.

The Dark side of the Island

I am firmly supporter that we, as travellers, need to sustain the local communities by purchasing the local goods as much as possible. Although we all know that tourism doesn’t bring only good.

Some of the floating Islands in the Lake Titicaca are actually staged for mass tourism purposes and the inhabitants are not really living there. Besides that, the increasing volume of tourists visiting, is harming the structure of the islands so it requires lot maintenance from the locals: you may want to be extra careful when choosing your tour organizer for your trip to Uros Island and make sure you are supporting the authentic community.

Tourism isn’t perfect, no. But despite all, I still feel a visit to the Uros communities is worthwhile and something you can actually learn from and making a positive impact.

If you do visit the islands, a few simple acts can make a positive impact: bring something to the community (when I visited I bought some groceries like sugar, pasta, rice, flour and gave to the family living in the island), make sure that your tour provider is offering and supporting the authentic local communities, be mindful of their environment (don’t run or jump through the island to minimize the damage on the island structure), be respectful of their believes: always ask permission before taking any pictures, support their business as much as you can!

Travelling consciously and going to increasingly well known places is a difficult thing to balance sometimes. But I feel confident to say though that no matter what, your visit, the money that you spend in buying their handcrafts, or the money you invest in staying there overnight it is making a difference for them to make their life a little bit better.