Puno, Lake Titicaca
Puno Travel Blog› entry 5 of 7 › view all entries
October 25th, 2005 – by: rosemary_mcandrew
We came to Puno as it is the departure point for trips out onto Lake Titicaca. At 3820m above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America. It is around 170km long, and the border with Bolivia runs through it.
We took a trip out to the Isla Flotantes (floating islands) which are artificial islands made from layers of the reeds that grow in the lake, therefore floating.
The surface of the islands are soft and springy to walk on. You are warned not to step on any rotten parts. The Isla Flotantes are close to the mainland (there are others much further out) and therefore get a lot of daytripping tourists visiting. The islanders didn't take long to catch on to tourism, and as soon as the first gringo sets foot on the island of a day, the covers are whipped off the trinket tables. The people who live on the islands however are very poor. They really only just eke out a living, and the only two industries are fishing and tourism. There is nowhere to grow anything, and I can imagine that there wouldn't be a lot of heating for the cold, high altitude nights (due to lack of fuel and the fact that they live on a huge fire hazard).
The reeds that make up the islands are also used to make their simple huts and also their boats (which range from simple canoes to more elaborate twin hulled masterpieces). These can hold many people and last around 6 months until the bottom starts rotting out.
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