Hike along the islands of Amantani and Taquile, appreciating their pre-Inca ruins and natural landscapes, and learn how their inhabitants have maintained their cultural identity through lifestyle, dress, music and dance. Also see the man-made wonders of the Floating Islands of Uros, home to one of the oldest cultures in America.
We'll pick you up at your Puno hotel at the agreed-upon time and head by car to the port of Puno. At around 7:40am, we'll embark in our motorboat along the surprisingly transparent waters of Lake Titicaca (3821m), the world's highest navigable lake. After half an hour on the lake, we'll arrive at the Floating Islands of Uros, the famous artificial islands constructed from the same reeds that the Uros Tribe, one of America's oldest cultures, rely on for housing, transport, and sustenance.
We'll spend approximately an hour and a half visiting the islands with our guide. At approximately 9:40am we'll continue on in the boat to our next stop, the traditional island of Amantani, whose Quechua-speaking inhabitants still wear a mixture of Spanish peasant dress and Andean accessories. On Amantani we'll be warmly received by local families with whom we'll be sharing traditional meals and spending the night. In the afternoon we'll hike to one of the hilltop temples, either Pachatata (Father Earth) or Pachamama (Mother Earth), a 2hr excursion. Although the temples are not in use during most of the year, on Jan 20th half the population congregates at one peak, and half on the other, with a race being held between a representative of each temple, from the respective temples to a midpoint. The future of the year to come depends on which temple wins the race. In the evening, our host families will participate in a welcoming reception designed to share with you their folkloric customs.
After a filling breakfast with our host families, we'll set off en route for the Island of Taquile, at around 8:00am, arriving at around 9:00am. The island still possesses pre-Inca ruins and stone terraces. It was integrated into the Inca empire as Intika, became a prison during Colonial times, and was only returned to the Taquileans in 1970. UNESCO proclaimed the island's traditional textiles "Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity" in 2005.
It's an hour-long hike to town, afterwhich you will enjoy a couple of free hours to explore the island and appreciate its landscape and customs.
At noon, we will descend along the opposite side of the Island (530 steps) to return to our boat and embark for Puno, where you'll be dropped off at your hotel.
Taquile's traditional textiles are lauded as some of the best artisan handicrafts available in Peru, even being honored by UNESCO in 2005. Remember that if you wish to buy souvenirs on Amantani, Taquile, or Uros that prices may be higher than in Puno, but that you\Ã¢Â€Â˜ll be supporting the artisan directly.