Located on the Peruvian Altiplano, the Uros Islands are floating islands on Lake Titicaca, 7km from Puno. The islands are made from the extremely buoyant totora reeds that grow in the shallow areas of the lake. The Uros Islands are constructed with layers of the totora reeds and are replenished from the top, making this a sustainable way of living. The reeds are also used to make houses and boats used by the Uros locals. You can visit the islands with a tour agency, or independently on a boat which departs from the harbour. Below is our Uros travel guide with information on all the best things to do, places to go and what not to miss.
EXPLORE LAKE TITICACA – Take a boat trip and explore the famous Floating Islands which are unique to Uros – there are 70 of them! Depending on how much time you have, you can take a 2-hour boat tour, or you can do a homestay for a more authentic experience. You’ll get to eat great, local food, and experience the way of life of the people on these islands. Some activities included in your tour could be: fishing, reed cutting, a boat tour, trying on traditional clothing, and learning about the history and culture of the islands.
TRADITIONAL TOTORA BOAT RIDE – Take a boat ride on a traditional boat made of totora reeds, the same reeds the islands are made from. The ride will cost 10 soles.
FISHERMEN IN THE MORNING – see the local fishermen catching fish for the day during the early hours of the morning on the calm lake, and watch the spectacular sunrise. You should coordinate with a local guide in order for you to stay the night somewhere.
SEND A POSTCARD – There is post office on one of the floating islands called Qanapacha. The owners claim it is the only floating post office in the world. Not all boats go to this island, you must ask before to make sure they go there.
*** WHAT NOT TO MISS ***
Totora reed boat ride.
Visit the islands.
Not all the Uros Islands have restaurants on them and not all boats go to the islands with a restaurant, so make sure to ask before getting on a boat to the islands. The main dish is trout that has been freshly caught from the lake. You should also try the reeds themselves – the bottom part is a white colour and edible. There’s even a tea, made from a herb which grows in the lake. It’s got a mint flavour, and people say it helps cope with the high altitude.
You can enjoy dinner and watch traditional dancing if you decide to stay the night on one of the Uros Islands with a local family. Not all tour agencies offer a homestay tour on the Uros Islands.
The warmest season is from December until March. During the day, the temperature is between 17°C and 20°C, and at night it’s between 4°C and 7°C. The coldest season is between June and July, daytime temperatures are around 16°C and at night around -7°C.
There are plenty of travel agencies that offer tours to Uros Islands that depart from the port of Puno.
There are also boats that leave the port every hour. A return trip costs 10 soles, but the fare does not include entry onto the Uros Islands (5 soles). If you’d like to eat on an island, check that the boat you get on goes to and island with a restaurant (not all do).
There are a few islands that have basic accommodation to stay the night, again not all boats go to those islands. One great place is Uros Khantati, as if you stay here you’ll find the money goes to the community instead of to the tour companies. This option includes hostel pick up, boat transport to the island, and cultural information.
Another option is to book a homestay with an agency and spend the night with a local family. This is a unique opportunity where you get to experience how the people live on the islands, and spend time eating, sharing, and learning about their lives.
If you decide to stay the night on one of the Uros Islands, bring warm clothes as it will be freezing during the night and early morning. It’s also a good idea to bring toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and a torch – remember, you may end up staying somewhere that doesn’t have all the commodities you are used to.
Also, take some cash – you’re sure to spot something locally-made you’d like to buy, such as hand-knitted clothing, and hand-made items.