Lake Titicaca is situated on the border of Peru and Bolivia, and is an incredible 3,856 metres above sea level. It's the world's highest navigable lake and measures 233km from north west to south east and 97km from north east to south west.
The stunning lake remains an important part of the Incan culture and is sacred to many of its inhabitants. Many of the Indians actually live right on the lake on man-made islands. These were originally built many centuries ago to offer protection from enemies, but still remain today.
Each island is woven from Totora reeds and is 100% floating. The islands are about two metres thick and are not connected to the bottom of the lake at all!
Depending on the weather, the reeds rot quickly and the layers need to be replaced regularly. Amazingly, the islands are stable enough to hold an entire community, with people, schools and shops.
A great way to explore the area is by island hopping with an organised touring company. These tours typically takes you on a boat trip to the islands to meet with the Uros Indians. The lake is around 150 times the size of Sydney Harbour, and most of the boats run on old car engines, so travelling can be very slow.
Visitors to the area can share the traditions of the locals, like knitting, which a popular pastime for both men and women. It's not unusual for the men to knit the skirt and the women to make the pants and swap items on their wedding day! If you'd like to take a sample home, the you can buy the knitted hats that the locals make and sell.There are some other curious customs on the islands. One thing you'll also notice is that there are no police. There were police at one stage but the locals felt they caused more trouble, so they got rid of them.
Another place to check out is Amantani, where many tours offer the opportunity to stay with a local family in their home. You'll experience life as a local, with no running water or electricity. The bathroom facilities are all outside and usually include a bucket of water.
You can also learn about other traditions, such as using guinea pigs to cure illnesses. In the evening you can join in the local celebrations with traditional music and dancing. To blend right in, you may even want to dress up as the locals do.
Hero Image Lake Titicaca - By Phillie Casablanca