Lake Titicaca and the Floating Islands

Our last stop in Peru was to Puno, the town on the banks of Lake Titicaca. Puno is on par with Nazca in terms of ugliness. It seems the residents favourite pastime is to start building something and then get over it half way through. All the buildings are ugly half built facebrick constructions. Yes, yes…it’s because it’s 3rd world so the people must be poor and rather spend their money on food and clothing than paint. But seriously, I’ve seen squatter camps that look nicer than this place. And it really is such a shame since Puno overlooks Lake Titicaca which is magnificent.

Puno

A better looking street in Puno

Lake Titicaca is one of the world’s largest high altitude lakes. Half of it belongs to Peru and the other half Bolivia.  It is beautiful, massive and has a name you just want to keep on saying. Titicaca. Titicaca. Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca

So the big touristy draw card to Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side is a visit to the floating Islands. Way back in the day when the Inca’s controlled the land some locals decided they were not keen to be part of the empire. So in order to escape the Inca’s they decided that they would live in the lake. First they created reed boats and chilled on there. The reed boats eventually became full on islands. Eventually the reed islands became villagers. And after a couple hundred years it became a tourist trap.

It’s interesting to see these funny reed islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Everything is made from reeds from the floor to the huts to the beds. Walking on the islands is weird, imagine walking on a jumping castle made of reeds – that’s what it feels like.

Floating Islands, Lake Titicaca

Floating Islands

But while we were sitting listening to some obligatory talk on the reed islands my eyes started to wander. I started to watch these two toddlers (who live on the island) and couldn’t help but feel sorry for them. Firstly they were seriously grubby. They both needed a wash and a new nappy. Secondly, I realised they had no hope in hell for ever being picked to play on the sports team when they are a little bit older. These kids have spent their first few short years growing up on a reed jumping castle. They have no idea what’s like to walk on solid ground. They therefore had the worst balance and kept face planting straight into the ground after every couple steps. I saw them knock their faces into the seating, buckets and anything else that was in their way. They didn’t cry so clearly this was routine for them. Poor kids.

Singing Girl

Singing Girl with her grubby brother

My view on the whole about the Floating Islands was a bit ‘meh’. It was so clearly desiginated to draw every last cent for the tourists who come to visit there. As soon as you step on the islands you feel obligated to buy their souvenirs, then you feel obligated to go on a boat ride, then you feel obligated to tip the singer on the boat ride and the list goes on. However, I am glad that I saw the Islands since they are unique.  I also really enjoyed the views of Lake Titicaca so I feel we got our money’s worth.

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