The Top 3 Peruvian Islands in Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is a popular tourist destination because it’s the highest navigable lake on earth, and the Peruvian islands in Lake Titicaca are a popular tourist destination. Like hiking Colca Canyon, visiting the Peruvian islands in Lake Titicaca is an iconic and essential stop while vacationing in Arequipa. While there are plenty of likes that sit at higher elevations, Lake Titicaca is the highest that people live on and that boats can navigate. So, how high is Lake Titicaca? It sits at 12,500 ft. The lake also straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia, which means that half the coast line and islands are on Bolivian soil, and the other half are in Peru.
Because Bolivia requires a $140 visa entrance fee for Americans, unfortunately this time around Daniel and I only chose to see the Peruvian islands in Lake Titicaca. We only had a weekend, and there was plenty to do just in Peru to fill that time. If you choose to see the Bolivian side also, definitely budget four or five days to see it all.
How To Get There
To visit the top 3 Peruvian islands at Lake Titicaca, you will need to start off in Puno. Puno is a small city on the edge of the lake, and the jumping off point for most of the tours to the islands. The best time to visit Puno is when traveling between Arequipa and Cusco. If you take a bus from one destination to the other, it will stop in Puno which lies between them, and is about a 6 hours bus ride from each city. So, when planning your trip to Peru, make sure you add in a few days between your visits to Arequipa and Cusco to stop in Puno to see Lake Titicaca.
Puno actually doesn’t have much to see, so it’s best to get in at night, and start your tours of the lake the next day. When you get to Puno, there will be tons of different tour options for you to choose from. Lake Titicaca is huge, at over 3,000 square miles, and has a depth of almost 9,000 feet! There are plenty of islands on the lake, and there is a LOT to see and do in the area. So what should you plan to visit?
The Top 3 Peruvian Islands in Lake Titicaca.
1. Amantani Island
Amantani Island just started to become a part of the tourist circuit five or six years ago. The island is small, at only about three and a half square miles. It has about 800 families on it divided into 10 small communities. Amantani Island is a three hour boat ride from Puno.
Why you should visit: The unique thing about Amantani island, and my favorite part of the visit, was the homestay we were given. We ate lunch, dinner, and breakfast with a local family and were invited into their houses to sleep. Flora, our “mother”, was extremely kind and her house was very comfortable. It even included a large balcony with a stunning view of the lake. That night, we were all invited to a local fiesta where we were given traditional outfits to wear. Musicians from across the island came to play and they taught us the traditional dances of the community. It was a really fun experience.
What to do: While on Amantani, don’t miss the climb up to the highest point on the island. there are two small mountains that each have a temple on top of them, the temple of the moon and the temple of the sun. We climbed to the Pachatata temple. The climb is fairly easy. It’s on a paved path and though it goes up for 45 minutes, it’s not very steep. There are also vendors selling souvenirs, snacks, and even cold beers along the climb if you need a break. Once you get to the top of the mountain, the 360 degree view is stunning. You can see the sparkling blue water, surrounding islands, and even into Bolivia. While up there, just make sure you walk around the temple three times – once for health, once for money, and once for love – and then place a rock at the gate for good luck. My tip: climb up in the afternoon to enjoy the sunset over the water!
2. Taquile Island
Taquile island is another popular destination on the lake. Like Amantani Island, Taquile island is also a three hour boat ride from Puno, and about a one hour ride from Amantani. However, Taquile island is about double the size of Amantani in both square milage and population.
Why you should visit: The most unique thing about Taquile island is the community of knitting men. These men do exactly what it sounds like… they knit. Their products are beautiful, thick, and high quality, and they are all made by hand. There is a large market in the central plaza de armas where you can buy scarves, headbands, gloves, and traditional belts and hats from them. They’re expensive (some of the hats take up to two months to knit!) but unique and make great souvenirs and gifts.
What to do: We docked on one side of the island and walked an hour to the main square. The walk was high up along the coast line, and had amazing views the whole way. In the square, we visited the marketplace. Afterwards, we enjoyed a lunch of baked fish and potatoes with a view of the island farmland and blue sparking water. Finally, we walked back down tot he other side of the island to a second port to meet our boat again. If you visit Taquile, make sure you walk across the entire island to enjoy the many different beautiful views of the lake!
3. Uros Floating Islands
The Uros floating islands are the easiest island to visit from Puno, because they are only a 20 minute boat ride away. These islands are manmade by the Uros community thta lives on them. Mud, roots, and reed plants make up the base of the island, which float precariously on top of Lake Titicaca’s calm waters. The Uros community has built more than 85 inhabited islands.
Why you should visit: The Uros Floating Islands are incredibly unique because they’re just that: man-made, floating islands. When you visit the islands, you will meet community members who will show you how they build the islands and anchor them down. The islands, their homes, and all the crafts they sell are all made out of the reeds that grow in Lake Titicaca. They’re edible too, so you can even try a bite!
What to do: While on the islands, you can take a $3 ride in their traditional boats (that they used to live on before they began building more permanent islands). Check out their unique hanging mobiles and handicrafts, and visit the Uros Capital Island, which has hostels, restaurants, markets, and even a hospital and school built on it.
Amantani Island, Taquile Island, and the Uros Floating Islands are the the top 3 Peruvian islands in Lake Titicaca. Buy a $30 tour, and spend two days and one night visiting all of these unique sites on the highest navigable lake in the world!
All my love,
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