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Titicaca: An excursion to the highest navigable lake in the world

It's almost compulsory during a visit to Peru to include a trip to Lake Titicaca. It's one of those magical places that you find in this country. In total there are 40 or so islands on the lake, but those included in the traditional tourist circuits are mainly on the archipelago of Uros, Amantani and Taqule, three islands that are each quite different.

Puno: The capital of Peruvian folklore

However, before setting off to visit the islands of Lake Titicaca, you'll touch down at Puno. This town, perched at 3800m, just over 12,500ft, is located on the banks of the famous lake. Due to its geographic situation, it is often forgotten by tourists in favour of the islands. It's a shame, because the town is very interesting. It's not called the capital of Peruvian folklore" for nothing. The Plaza de Armas and the cathedral are worthy of a visit. Remember that the Plaza de Armas is always an excellent departure point during a stay in a town in Peru. A visit to Puno also gives you the perfect opportunity to try the Peruvian cuisine. Numerous restaurants make up the competition, notably on Jirón Lima, the town's main street. They all offer menus at very low prices. Don't hesitate to ask for a "Pisco sour" as an extra. Most of them will agree to ensure that you choose their restaurant over that of their neighbour!

Towards the highest point of the island, at Amantini

An excursion to the islands of Lake Titicaca

Who doesn't dream of staying on the floating islands made of straw during their stay in Peru ? The Uros are in fact very popular and included in most of the tours of Peru. These islands are built of totora, a type of rush that grows profusely in the lake and that is used as a material for everything: for the island itself, for the houses, for artisan arts and crafts and for boats etc. ! Every two months or thereabouts, the inhabitants must add a layer of torora to the floor to ensure that they have a solid floor.

As soon a you arrive near to the Urso islands, which are only a few miles from Puno, you will be welcomed by the island women. They wear polladas, a sort of very ample skirt which is, in their case, very colourful indeed! They reflect on the blue waters of Lake Titicaca. Once there, the people who dedicate themselves to tourism explain their way of life on the island. In my opinion, they lack a little authenticity, but they are worth seeing all the same.   

However, the Uros aren't the only islands to visit! Amantani and Taquile are two islands to visit during a stay at Lake Titicaca. Personally, I fell head over heels for Amantani, where there are neither cars, hotels, nor restaurants. It's the people themselves who offer all the services to visitors. The island is a three hour boat ride from Puno. Its inhabitants live almost by agriculture alone, even though tourism is becoming a more and more important part of their economy. Lastly, plan to include a few days of your itinerary here in order to really make the best of your visit to Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Emilie Couillard
117 contributions
Updated 28 September 2015
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