Peru undoubtedly has one of the most picturesque landscapes I’ve ever seen. From steamy jungle towns, to rolling desert, to vivacious green mountains and glinting white glaciers as far as the eye can see, this country is the whole package.
Having spent over six months in this wonderful place, I have been lucky enough to explore a vast expanse of this breath-taking scenery.
I have been into the deepest, darkest depths of the jungle near Iquitos. I have been to the surfing city of Trujillo and its wonderful beaches in Huanchaco. I have seen the archaic city of the Incas in Cusco and have explored the legendary Machu Picchu. And, of course, I’ve also had the chance to eat the best seafood that I’ve ever tasted in Lima.
Having done all of this, I decided to make my way to Bolivia for a few days to see what they had to offer in comparison. Before doing so, I stopped off Lake Titicaca, the lake stretching between both Peru and Bolivia. I couldn’t have been more happy to have made the stop at this extraordinary site.
Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, and the highest navigable lake in the world. It stands at an elevation of 3,812 m above sea level. Here, the sun tends to blaze during the day, while temperatures drop below freezing levels at night.
It is believed by ancient Incan culture that Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the sun, and therefore, where the world began. According to the Incas, this is where the first Incan king, Manco Capac, was born. When you take in the beauty of this lake, it becomes evident why these theories exist. The shimmering blue of the lake is in sharp contrast with the piercing glacial mountains behind. The intense green and yellow fields burst with colour. It is simply heavenly.
There are various parts of the lake that make for a scenic rest stop. You can stop to see the crumbling cathedrals of the area, while also enjoying the wonderful fashion of the Campineros. (These locals still harvest crops by hand, as they have done throughout history!)
A great place to stop over and spend an afternoon is at Reed Island, near the city of Puno. This is where the pre-Incan people of the Uro tribe still live to this day. As part of our ‘Peru School Trip,’ on the 7th day after having spent time in Cusco and Machu Picchu, we will take you to spend time on Reed Island with the wonderful Uro people!
The Uro are the remnants of an ancient, nomadic group, who are thought to have been around since the last Ice Age. This community is said to have once spoke either ‘Uro’ or ‘Pukina’, two ancient languages which are no longer used. The Uro people believe that they are the guardians of the water at Lake Titicaca. They carry a remarkable culture, and they still uphold many of their ancient customs.
Some of these ancient customs include shepherding and fishing to survive. Another custom for which they have become extremely well-known for is their unique range of uses for the Totora Reeds which grow in the lake. The Uro people weave the totora reeds, turning them into useful tools. These reeds are used for many things; ranging from sustenance, to a method of healing, and even housing. These reeds are also used as a form transportation – in the creation of boats used to cross the water. During the day women sit making and selling jewellery to tourists, while the men use these boats to take tourists out sightseeing and fishing.
My friends and I spent a wonderful afternoon here chatting with the local people and floating around on one of their aquatic islands. It is said that tribes would live here on these Reed islands in the middle of the lake to protect themselves from any threatening enemies. When the Incas began expanding on to their lands, many people were forced into the water to take up a more permanent residence. We were able to see how the people weave the reeds in order to build homes for themselves and to see the men fishing, one of their prime forms of income.
With Evolve Tours we will take you to one of these magical floating villages to see how the Uro people live. Here you will have the opportunity to ride on reed rafts, have a guided tour and to also stay the night with one of the lovely host families!
It is so peaceful around here and a totally different experience to anything I had seen in Peru so far. Staying here as the sun sets over the mountains, the land becomes even calmer and tranquil. The mountains here have some of the best visibility conditions in the world to see stars, so you can spend the dark night stargazing at a vast blanket of bright lights.
So, give us a call to find out more about our Peruvian adventures at Evolve Tours!
Alanna Byrne is a writer and NGO coordinator currently living in deepest, darkest Peru. Originally from London, UK, she has traveled from a young age and lived for two years in Toronto. She’s about to embark on more backpacking adventures, first across South America and then onto New Zealand and Australia. When she’s not racing around the world, she can usually be found reading in a quiet corner somewhere or in a crowd listening to loud music. Follow her adventures here: www.awritetoroam.com.
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