Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The floating islands of Lake Titicaca

Located in the Andes mountains on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is one of the highest lakes in the world. It's also BIG...and here's my favorite fact...you can see it from space!


There are around 40 man-made floating islands in Lake Titicaca, home to the Uros, a pre-Incan people who have lived on such islands for hundreds of years. 


 To create the islands, the Uros cut a chunk of matted reed roots from the shore line, pull it into position, and anchor it using ropes and long sticks. They then build up layer after layer of dried reeds on top of the base, piling it as high as 4 meters. I watched a couple travelers' home movies about visiting the islands, and one of them likened it to walking around on an inflatable bounce house. The islands are usually home to 2 to 10 families depending on size, and the islands share a clinic, school, church and watchtower, all located on islands. The islands only last about 12 years until the reeds get too wet and they have to create a replacement island.


I am amazed at how much the Uros construct out of the reeds - not just the islands, but also boats and structures!  However, due to their limited natural resources, many of the islands have converted to be tourist sites, and modern life has crept in - it isn't unheard of to see TVs powered by solar panels and to hear radios. 



2 comments:

  1. Islands made from reeds that you can live on and grow food on? Genius!

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  2. A couple of months ago, a bank opened the first floating ATM there, it feels a little bit weird, but it is true. :)

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