Lake Titicaca sits over 3,800 metres above sea level, high in the Andies between Peru and Bolivia. It boasts many interesting species endemic to the area, like the giant water frog, which can grow to the size of a house cat! It is said that French explorer Jacques Cousteau came to Titicaca in search of a lost civilization, found this species of frog and called it a day.
However, there’s much more to see. The floating islands of Uros are artificial islands made completely out of woven reeds. The inhabitants live almost exclusively on their small islands with their families.
They power their houses with solar panels that give them a few hours of electricity each day. Though, the people of these islands maintain a very traditional way of life, one island inhabitant was quite proud to point out that he had a television in his hut.
The weaving and craftsmanship of these islands and boats dates back many centuries to a pre-Incan society. The same ancient techniques of weaving are still practised. In fact, the great Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl enlisted the help of the Aymara natives to build a sturdy reed boat, which he successfully sailed from Peru to Easter Island. That same boat is on display at the Tiki Museum in Oslo.
Today, tours in these reed boats are the highlight of the visit to the Uros islands.
The reed islands were originally constructed for protection from threats on the mainland. However, the indigenous inhabitants have remained true to their customs and culture by practising their unique crafts. They also follow the Incan moral code ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). This beautiful tradition speaks to their joyful, genuine and industrious community.