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The highest navigable lake in the world sits on the border between Peru and Bolivia and will literally take your breath away, not just due to the high elevation! Spend enough time in this part of South America and you will be rewarded with some of the most spectacular views during your Peru trip. Blessed with a rich, unique culture and lots of interesting traditions the islands on Lake Titicaca are varied and as fascinating as their people. There are more than seventy islands on the lake, the largest and most sacred being the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), an ancient Inca temple site on the Bolivian side of the border; Titicaca is an Aymara word meaning “Puma’s Rock”, which refers to an unusual boulder on the island. The island is best visited from Copacabana in Bolivia, or trips can be arranged through one of our tours in Puno. Here are the Titicaca Islands you can visit on your trip to Peru and the magnificent Lake Titicaca.
Woman Embroidering on a Floating Island
Uros Floating Islands
The Uros floating Islands occupy a small corner of the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca. It’s fair to say that there is no other place like it on Earth. The Uros people are descendants of one of the most ancient cultural groups in the Americas and little is known about their mysterious history. They’ve preserved a floating lifestyle for hundreds of years. To protect themselves from invading groups, the Uros built mobile islands from the endemic totora plant. If a threat emerged, they could simply relocate their islands elsewhere in the lake. The Incas and The Spanish did, however, catch up with them, eventually. The Uros people now communicate primarily in the native Aymara language and they have maintained many other unique aspects of their original culture. There are approximately 2,000 Uros people, of which 1,200 still live on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. The Uros Islands are constructed from the totora plants that grow in abundance on the lake, and the humble totora plant forms the backbone of life on these floating islands. Homes, boats, and the islands themselves are all made of these totora reeds. Today, the Uros earn income through tourism which has brought a few modern conveniences to the archipelago, including improved sanitary facilities and solar panels which reduce the risk of fires from open flames. They have embraced modern technology, with most islanders using cell phones and televisions powered by solar panels. The best way to visit the Uros Islands is a guided tour from Puno, Peru."Lanchas" leave from the Puno port and you will sail for just 20 minutes to reach these incredible floating islands.
Uros Floating Islands
Situated on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Taquile´s remote location has allowed locals to continue their traditions without too much Western influence. Stunning lake and mountain landscapes and spectacular weaving traditions await you on Taquile. Taquile Island is seemingly on top of the world. In the middle of the Peruvian half of Lake Titicaca, the shores of Taquile sits at 12,959 ft (3,950 m) above sea level, while its highest point reaches 4,050 m. Despite its breathtaking elevation, the island’s size is pretty modest at 5.72 km², it is still however the second largest Peruvian island on the lake after Amantaní island. Taquile is 45 km from Puno on the lakeshore and it takes about 3 hours by boat to reach the island from Puno. On their arrival, the Spanish imposed cultural restrictions on the inhabitants of the island. For example, they weren’t allowed to wear traditional Inca clothing but had to wear "campesino", or peasant-style clothing instead. However, because of the island’s remote location, especially at a time without motorized boats, many other local customs remained intact. Today’s islanders, numbering around 2,200, continue the generations-old tradition of subsistence farming and fishing. Taquile today is famous for its weaving tradition. Weaving is, of course, an integral part of local culture in many parts of Peru. It is a way for indigenous peoples to represent their history and society with geometric and natural shapes as well as colors. The weavers of Taquile Island, in particular, have an interesting tradition where both women and men take up the loom. Taquileños are among the few indigenous communities in Puno to forgo Western dress and keep their traditional garments. The patterns and colors may have evolved over time, but the meaning is still present in their work. Even UNESCO has recognized their incredible local art by recognizing Taquile and Its Textile Art as a “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2005.
Amantani has a population is just 4000, and is a few kilometers north of the smaller Taquile Island, and many tours pass through the region without continuing to Amantaní. Still, a stay here is unforgettable, and it's well worth making your way to this remote corner of Peru. Almost all trips to Amantaní involve an overnight homestay with islanders, giving you a privileged glimpse into the local way of life. The island is very quiet, with no roads or vehicles – you won't even see a dog, as they aren't allowed. Isla Amantaní boasts lovely views, too. Several hills are topped by ruins, among the highest and best-known of which are Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachatata (Father Earth). These date to the Tiwanaku period, named for a largely Bolivian culture that appeared around Lake Titicaca and expanded rapidly between 200 BC and AD 1000. These Ancient Incan ruins on top of both peaks are generally only accessible on the 3rd Thursday of January, each year. At this time, the residents of Amantani Island divide in half, with some congregating at Pachatata, and the rest at Pachamama, for their annual Feast Day. The Amantani community will allocate your accommodation on the island according to a rotating system. Please respect this process, even if you are with a guided group. There’s no problem with asking for families or friends to be together. All visitors eat at their homestay, and the meals typically include island staples like fish and quinoa. There are small stores for snacks, too, however.
Suasi Island is the only privately owned island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. This tiny Titicaca island is home to Martha Giraldo’s one-of-a-kind Suasi Lodge, where the focus on providing excellent service in a remote location coupled with beautiful and fragrant gardens, swaying hammocks, and cozy fireplaces, and a plethora of wildlife make the long journey worthwhile. This Andean Cottage has its own personal dock and beach area, porch, gardens, and hammocks. The cottage integrates into the natural environment and provides a tranquil secludedness, making this personal refuge perfect for a private family retreat or even a romantic getaway. Try taking photos of the hummingbirds as they swooped by, or head to the island’s highest point, Itapilluni to view the spectacular sunset. Witness several of the island’s diverse flora, including a bright red, trumpet-shaped Cantuta flower, Peru’s national flower. Visit the corral, where the island’s herd of alpacas rested each evening, and marvel at the island’s wild herd of rare vicunas another member of the camelid family. Isla Suasi as you may have guessed is the place to come in the Puno region for peace and tranquillity. It’s a great destination to reconnect with yourself, family, and friends and take time to reflect on your adventure in Peru. The views and gardens are absolutely stunning and the accommodation is perfect for the location of the island. A stay on Suasi is designed to allow you to disconnect from the modern world, relax and enjoy the lake. However, if you want to try something a bit more active Pepe, the Island’s on-site guide can help you out. Head down to the beach, pick a canoe, and paddle around the island. Get up close and personal with the island’s cormorant population at their nesting site on the south of the island from February to October. If you want a less active option, book a guided zodiac ride around the island in the afternoon.
Vicuñas on Suasi Island
Isla Del Sol
Venturing across the border to Bolivia, Isla del Sol is a tranquil escape to nature, hiking, local island life, ruins, and sweeping views of Lake Titicaca. Those traveling across South America, regularly recommend a stop at Isla del Sol, Bolivia. We’re here to continue that advice, show how to get to Isla del Sol from Copacabana by ferry, and why it’s worth it to stay overnight. There’s just something about Isla del Sol. This island is a tranquil little escape from the hustle and bustle of South America. Isla del Sol itself boasts a stunning landscape that juts up dramatically out from Lake Titicaca. There is a lot of Inca-related history behind the stunning Isla del Sol. According to Incan legend the principal God, Inti (the Sun God), lived on one of the islands on the Bolivian side of the lake, the Isla Del Sol (Island of the Sun). Legend has it that the island is where Inti created his son and daughter, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the very first Incas who later traveled north to found Cusco at the heart of what would become the Inca Empire. The rest as they say is Inca history!
Llama on Isla del Sol
Isla de La Luna
An hour's boat ride from Isla del Sol, you can find The Moon Island or Isla de la Luna. There is one interesting archaeological site on the island, The temple on Isla de la Luna was once home to chosen women during the Inca Empire. Considering this temple is the only remaining structure from that time, archaeologists have assumed that the entire island served as a sanctuary for sacred female energy. The impressive views of Lake Titicaca and the nearby Bolivian glacier-peaked Andes from the bluffs on the island are a sight to behold. A few of the local families offer rooms for rent and meals at a reasonable price. Given the entire Island has 25 families, including one church, one school, and critical to all Bolivian villages, one football field, there wouldn't be much to do other than explore the rest of the island, relax, and watch the sun go down. Fishermen on the island are happy to engage with tourists, sharing their trout-catching wisdom. Now an abundant food source for all Lake Titicaca inhabitants, trout were actually introduced to Lake Titicaca’s fish population in 1939, to complement the existing killifish and catfish.
Moon Island, Bolivia
Whichever of these Titicaca Islands grabs your attention, you can be sure that a trip to Lake Titicaca will be an awesome, and unforgettable experience, made complete by an Island visit. Find out more here about this unique and impressive altiplano region and the highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca.