A night on a floating island with the men of the water

A region marked by an inhospitable climate.

The climate around Lake Titicaca is particularly inhospitable with an average altitude of 3750 meters, annual temperatures below 10 ° C and almost no rain. It is surely not a place where we wish to live.

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Despite the aridity, some landscapes over Titicaca lake are beautiful.

Yet this area has been inhabited for more than 3700 years. Several ethnic groups lived here long before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. One of them, the Uros has an ancient and complex history. The Uros have been the subject of many anthropological and linguistic studies1. Their way of life, so well suited to the local climate, is really fascinating. The peculiarity of the Uros is to live on floating islands which they build with the totora, a sort of sedge growing in the lake.

Excursion to visit the men of the water

In the past, they called themselves “Quas Qut Suñi” which means men of the water. Over the last fifteen years, they have been more and more open to tourism. Now the main part of their income comes from it. From the city of Puno on the shores of Lake Titicaca, all the tour operators offer fast excursions on these islands at low cost. With such massive tourism, the experience cannot be as authentic as the one we experienced in the Borucas in Costa Rica.

 

Therefore, the best option we found was to spend a night on the island of Cristina Suaña Coila and her husband Victor Vilca. Thanks to them we could discover more closely the way of life of the Uros. It was a very enjoyable and relaxing stay. This option in addition to being more authentic has the merit of directly benefiting the community Uros which is not the case of the tours organized by the major agencies of Puno.

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We could see some fishing techniques and the use of the totora

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The traditional costumes (worn essentially for the tourists, we could try them as well).

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References:

1  The genetic history of indigenous populations of the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano: the legacy of the Uros. Sandoval JR, Lacerda DR, Jota MS, Salazar-Granara A, Vieira PP, Acosta O, Cuellar C, Revollo S, Fujita R, Santos FR; Genographic Project Consortium. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 11.

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