High in the northern Andean mountains, nestled between Bolivia and Peru at an elevation of 12,467 feet, lies sacred Lake Titicaca. This is the world’s highest navigable body of water and has been inhabited by the indigenous Uros Tribe since before the time of the Incas. The Uros don’t live on the shores of Lake Titicaca, but on its deep blue water in villages atop reed floating islands.
Everything from the boats, houses, furniture, crafts, food (from the tender reed bottom) and the islands themselves are made from abundant totora reeds that grow in the lake. It’s said that walking on these islands is similar to walking on a waterbed and care is needed not to misstep on a thin reed area or your foot will land in the icy water below.
Since the islands rot from beneath new layers need to be added and new islands built. At present there are 45 of these islands and the Uros produce most of what they need, relying on ancient techniques of fishing and hunting for food and raising chickens for eggs and meat. What they cannot provide for themselves they get in the nearby town of Puno on land.
To visit the Uros of Lake Titicaca is to learn about a unique, simple lifestyle of a people rich in history and a culture that has survived long before and long after the Inca civilization.