Lake Titicaca borders Peru and Bolivia and is a very common stop when crossing the border. It is the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. The most outstanding thing about Lake Titicaca are the floating islands and the people who live there. There are about 4,000 people living on the islands in the middle of the lake. The daily life and history of the inhabitants of the Uros of Lake Titicaca is interesting and very different from others in the world.
Small totora platforms stand out among the intense blue of the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca, near the bay of Puno. They are the artificial floating islands of the Uros, an ancestral people that lives in small communities in the middle of the highest navigable lake in the world.
The yellowish islets in which these inhabitants raise their houses are built with a type of reed called totora that grows in the water. Uros collect their roots when they come to the surface, in the rainy season, cut large blocks and join them until they form a floating island that can last up to 23 years.
Located at an altitude of 3,800 meters, the lake in which the Uros live is surrounded by mysticism. Titicaca - which means stone puma - is according to legend the place from which emerged Viracocha, the Sun God, who in turn sent Manco Cápac to found the prosperous Inca culture in Cuzco.
The uros, on the other hand, were one of the first cultural formations of the Altiplano and its origin goes back to the pre-Inca period. According to some theories came from Bolivia but migrated to the coastal areas after major droughts occurred between 900 and 1,200 AD.
At first they lived on the mainland but decided to build floating islands to avoid being conquered by the Tiahuanacos, Collas and Incas. In addition, they discovered that in the middle of the lake they had more means of survival thanks to hunting and fishing. Their original language, the pukina, was lost and they adopted Aymara, who continue to speak with In each island live between five and seven families that subsist thanks to hunting and fishing that then sell or change in the market of Puno. In addition, they make beautiful and colorful embroidery and totora crafts that they sell to tourists who visit them.
Also the houses and some of the boats that use are made with totora, plant that also eat and use as medicine. The houses, rectangular in shape, are small, one-room dwellings where the whole family sleeps.
As for the boats, which may even have two floors, they take about six months to build and can be used for about seven years. "In 1947, the expedition of the Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl traveled 4,700 miles between Peru and French Polynesia in a raft similar to those built by the Uros," says José.