Peru - The Floating Islands of the Uros,
Lake Titicaca

Andrys Basten, photos taken 5/20/97

(*Click* on most photos for larger versions.) (158k) On the Floating Island
It was near high noon when we landed and the light was rather harsh. Here you see the people displaying their work for the boatloads that drop by.

For us, the Floating Islands were a stop on the way to our main destination, the island of Taquile, 4 hours away, but it was definitely an interesting interlude.

Walking on the cane-reed surface was strange, a very squishy feeling which was unsettling but oddly comfortable at the same time

Note the teepee in between the huts.

If you'd like to know more about the people here, be sure to read the attached article by Miranda France, mentioned on the previous page. It's a wonderful, detailed description of life on these islands.

You'll note the bowler hats she mentions (better seen in the larger versions of the photos). There's not much variety of play available for the children, so you see them playing with poles.
(134k) Bird with very loud squawk Also, there are not a few spots where the reeds have rotted away, leaving the opportunity for a large, perilous dip in the very cold lake.
As I discovered.

My attention wandered and I didn't notice I was walking onto a soft-spot, on which a wooden plank had been placed so that anyone awake would walk on it rather than on rotting reed

Luckily, only one leg fell in. Apparently they're used to the inevitable dumb tourista and offered to help me dry off. The hot, direct sun alone was able to do that for my American blue jeans and sock once back on the boat. Until then, I took the photos on this page with a cold, soaking heaviness on the left side

Some complain that this is just a tourist show and that to escape the poverty that confronts so many in Peru, the mainly Aymara people who are the Uros have often returned from cities to make a living from tourist interest in this unique lifestyle.

(63k) Somewhere else Island scene 2 I'd have paid better attention (these were all the photos I took) had I any idea of what it's like to live on one of these islands.

Miranda France's article makes me want to re-visit the area.

(96k)
Island scene

(91k))
Trading

The ladder on the left takes you up to an observation platform. The only person without a protective hat in this picture was from our boat, and she was enjoying a purchase here. I learned later that the money from the sale of tapestries helps fund the little primary schools on at least one of the islands. Note that the little girl in the center of the picture doesn't have to wear a bowler hat yet. (The larger version is a bit clearer, though some viewers may need to scroll left to right.)

Guides relaxing
Boat guides relax briefly

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Next ... Leaving the Floating Islands for Taquile Island . . .



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