According to Incan mythology, Lake Titicaca is considered the site where civilization first began. It’s believed to be where the first Inca King, Manco Capac, was born by the sun god–so you know we had to add it to Peru’s Bucket List Destination! Even those who doubt the tales of alien Inca colonies will second guess their beliefs when they witness the marvelous sights found only at Lake Titicaca.
Islas Uros is Lake Titicaca’s most visited attraction. This string of floating islands is home to the indigenous Uros people who were forced to live on the lake when the Inca empire expanded onto their lands. The Uros people use the totora reed–which grows vastly along the bank of the river–to build their homes, boats, furniture, and the very islands they live on! It’s high maintenance living as the reeds from the bottom of the islands disintegrate down to the bottom of the river, so it’s necessary to continue adding new reeds to maintain the 4-8-foot-thick foundation that keeps the islands afloat.
The floating islands helped to maintain the Uros people, as the mobility was used as a defense mechanism against enemies–instead of having to abandon their base, they moved with it.
Despite their natural ways of living, the Uros people are not against modern amenities. You can find motorboats and even solar panels on some of the islands, and they even have a radio station which broadcasts music for several hours per day. Today, the Uros people make a living from fishing and selling their reed handicrafts to tourists.
The islands can be reached from any side of the river, though it’s much more easily accessible from Puno, Peru.
Iglesia de Santiago Apostol
The pride of the locals lay in la Iglesia de Santiago Apostol, but it maintains some of the most interesting sites you could ever imagine. Inside the church you can find a life size sculpture of The Last Supper, St. Santiago sitting atop a real stuffed horse, skeletons and skulls decoratively arranged, secret tunnels, and much more. You won’t believe your eyes at this Lake Titicaca visiting ground.
Before the Incas came to rule the region, Lake Titicaca was dominated by the Colla people, who later became the southeastern group of the Incas. Noble individuals of this group were buried in furnary towers that stand out for miles against the landscape. The most impressive towers can be found in Sillustani located on the Lake Umayo peninsula. The largest of the towers stands at 12M.
Some of the structures housed the remains of complete families, along with food and belongings that was believed to carry them through their journeys into the next world. Although nothing remains of the burials, the towers are still very well preserved, with the best time of the day to visit being late afternoon, just as the sun is setting.
The walls of the towers are made from carved blocks, even more intricate than the Incas’ stonework. At one of the most famous points of interest, you can find unplaced blocks, a ramp, and exactly where the stones were extracted from. A few of the blocks are decorated, including one with a lizard carved onto one of the towers.
Sillustani is partially surrounded by lake Umayo where a large variety of plants and wildlife thrive. It’s one of the best sites in the area for birdwatching, so intrigued archeologists and nature lovers alike will enjoy visiting this site.
Huge Stone Phalluses
In the quiet village of Chucuito is where ancient peoples figured it was best to place “el Templo de Fertilidad”. In a mostly desolate, dusty area, you find large stone phalluses up to 1.2M tall. Local guides tell entertaining tales of women sitting atop the pointed structures in hopes of increasing their fertility. Whether true or not, it’s definitely an image you aren’t sure to forget! If fertility and phalluses aren’t your thing, Chucuito is also home to two attractive colonial churches–Santo Domingo and Nuestra Señora de la Asunción.