Sailing Lake Titicaca

The breakfast room of our hotel overlooks the northern end of Lake Titicaca, and as the sun rose we could see the floating islands of Uros, our first destination for the day. We boarded our privately chartered boat from the hotel pier, and sailed to one of the floating islands, this one called Khantawi. Richard and Dawn have visited the family here before, and they are so friendly and welcoming. We sat on bench seats made from Tortura reeds and heard about how the islands are made, the Uros community and the traditional skills and trades of the local people.

If a family wishes to build an island they must first find other families to live with and ask permission of the president of Uros. Then they begin by cutting blocks of reeds and attach them together with rope. When these blocks have “grown together” after several months, additional reeds are piled on top and then compressed, normally by hosting a party! After the island has been tethered to the lake floor with rope and wood, it will last for around 30 years, with reeds being added on top on a regular basis.

Many of the ladies make blankets and cushion covers, decorated with native animals and scenery, whilst the men spend most of the day fishing in the deeper parts of the lake. 

Our visit included a short trip on traditional reed boats and several guests had a go at rowing, discovering rather quickly how difficult it is to move such a large boat at altitude! 

Following our visit to the floating islands we sailed to the Capachica Peninsula to visit the community of Llachon. The local language here is Quechua, although many people also speak Spanish. 

We walked to the Llachon village centre and visited a local kindergarten for children aged from 3-5. We sang some songs with them, leaving gifts of books, pencils, pens and school supplies. After our school visit we were hosted at a local farmstead by Mr Valentin and his family and treated to a traditional lunch of quinoa and vegetable soup, followed by chicken, rice and potatoes. To finish, we were served a warm drink made of chicha morada (a purple corn drink), apples and cinnamon. Feeling rather full from the delicious food, we then learnt about the traditional ways of making soap, wool and blankets, as well as the traditional clothing worn in this community. Girls wear long knitted hats before they are married, switching afterwards to intricately embroidered jackets and flat, square hats. Dawn and Eilidh modelled the latest creations! 

Today’s weather has been glorious and we sailed back to our hotel having had a wonderful experience exploring Lake Titicaca.