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Islas Uros

Just 4.3 miles (7km) east of Puno, these unique floating islands are Lake Titicaca’s top attraction. Their uniqueness is due to their construction. They have been created entirely with the buoyant totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows of the lake. The lives of the Uros people are interwoven with these reeds. Partially edible (tasting like non-sweet sugarcane), the reeds are also used to build homes, boats and crafts. The islands are constructed from many layers of the totora, which are constantly replenished from the top as they rot from the bottom, so the ground is always soft and springy.

Some islands also have elaborately designed versions of traditional tightly bundled reed boats on hand and other whimsical reed creations, such as archways and even swing sets. Be prepared to pay for a boat ride (S10) or to take photographs.

The People

Intermarriage with Aymara-speaking indigenous people has seen the demise of the original Uros, who nowadays all speak Aymara. Always a small group, the Uros began their unusual floating existence centuries ago in an effort to isolate themselves from the aggressive Collas and Incas.

The popularity of the islands has led to aggressive commercialization in some cases. The most traditional reed islands are located further from Puno through a maze of small channels, only visited by private boat. Islanders there continue to live in a relatively traditional fashion and prefer not to be photographed.

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Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Islas Uros.

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