Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca [Puno, Peru]

The Uros people can be found living on man-made totora reed islands in Lake Titicaca (3810m above sea level and just 5 km off the coast of Puno, Peru). There’s a myth that this pre-Incan group no longer lives on the reed islands and, today, the islands are only used as a tourist attraction. This is not true. Of the forty-two islands, just ten are used to host visitors from the mainland. The rest are home to a few hundred indigenous people who still rely on fishing, trapping sea birds and bartering with the mainland locals for survival.

There are a couple theories as to why the Uros first took to the sea. The most popular one says they were trying to prevent attacks from their more aggressive neighbors, the Incas.

Until recently, your only option as a traveler was to take a tour during the day or hire an independent boat operator in Puno. Now, there is accommodation on the islands and you have the added option of staying for a couple days to get a better feel for the culture, traditions, language and people.  A portion of the islands have electricity by way of solar panels, as well as, a restaurant, a hospital, a school and “the world’s only floating post office”. Be aware that if your tour doesn’t include a trip to these sites, there will be an additional fee for the locals to transfer you there via reed boats (roughly 8 soles).

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 For more information:

Amusing Planet

http://www.amusingplanet.com/2011/10/floating-islands-of-lake-titicaca.html

Edgar Adventures

http://www.edgaradventures.com/en/program/1071/12-day-uros-reed-floating-islands

HostelWorld: Qananpacha Hospedaje

http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Q-anan-Pacha/Puno/54307

Uros Khantati Homestay

http://uroskhantati.com/

Sunday Snapshot: Chan Chan Ruins [Trujillo, Peru]

 Chan Chan functioned as the largest pre-Columbian city in America from 850 AD until its fall to the Incan Empire in 1470 AD. It encompasses over 20 square kilometers but the average traveler will only visit the city center (6 square km).

Chan Chan is just 5km outside of Trujillo and can easily be reached by taxi or colectivo. If you choose the colectivo, look for one headed to “Huanchaco” and tell the driver to let you off at “Cruce de Chan Chan”. This will be a stop on the main road. Once you get out, you’ll see a long dirt road. Follow the dirt road for a few hundred meters and you’ll see the entrance to the ruins and a small parking lot on your left. The admission fee is 11 soles.

The ideal time for photos would be either when the site opens at 9:30am or later in the day, just before it closes, at 4:30pm. This will allow you to avoid the harsh shadows created by the mid-day sun.

Chan Chan Ruins, Trujillo

 For more information:

UNESCO

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/366

Smithsonian Magazine

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/endangered-site-chan-chan-peru-51748031/

South America Backpacker

http://southamericabackpacker.com/peru/trujillo/