Peru Family Vacation: Sillustani and the Floating Islands of Uros

After our stay in Colca Canyon we headed south to the famed Lake Titicaca. LT, as it’s often called, is the highest navigable lake in the world (although I hear that moniker isn’t quite accurate) and is divided between the countries of Peru and Bolivia. Both countries claim at least 60% of the lake. There is currently a bit of discussion as to whom owns exactly which parts.
But before we spied the lake, we took a quick pit stop at the Sillustani Ruins.
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Which are, essentially, an old graveyard for Inca and Aymara peoples. Only the important folk got the giant towers.

Days 1-2: Arequipa (click here)

Days 3-4: Colca Canyon (click here)

Day 5: Continue heading southeast to Lake Titicaca, stopping at the tombs of Sillustani. Again, we hired a private vehicle (with driver) to accommodate our fickle family schedule. The ruins were uncrowded, with more wild guinea pigs than people. It’s on the way to LT, so is definitely worth a stop but after about an hour of looking around you’ll be ready to continue on your way.  Spend the night: Puno. I wish I could say otherwise since we didn’t particularly like either Puno or our hotel but there aren’t many options.

Day 6: Prepare yourself for a cheesy, touristy overload. The floating islands of Uros (located in the middle of Lake Titicaca) are cool. If you’re in the area you should visit them. But they’re also horribly commercialized and the residents will spend the entire time trying to get you to spend money stuff you neither need nor want. The boat ride is about 30 minutes and vessels leave frequently from downtown Puno.

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Sillustani: According to our guide, upon death the VIP was naturally mummified and 20 of his closest servants and concubines were killed, in order to keep him company in the afterlife. The mummies were placed in the towers and offered gifts and sacrifices, with the understanding that the VIP would keep things calm on earth. I’m making light of this – mostly because I asked our guide how the concubines felt about sacrificing themselves upon the death of their benefactor and our guide swore up and down that the gals gladly followed him into the afterlife.

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Incidentally, that is a wild guinea pig, which is called cuy, and is a local delicacy. We tried the fried version and it was pretty tasty. The bird is the andean version of our Northern Flicker.

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Floating Islands of Uros

First up: Lake Titicaca is beautiful. Huge. Sapphire blue and very, very deep.I wasn’t terribly impressed with Puno, the city beside the shores of LT. It was bustling, and brown, and there was garbage everywhere. I’m sure many folks will tout its many virtues and hidden gems – but we’ll just have to agree to disagree regarding the beauty of Puno. I was also sick here with GI Tract issues so perhaps that colored my perception a bit.
The Floating Island of Uros, however, are an entirely different story.
According to our guide, the Uros people originally lived on the banks of LT but permanently took to the water to escape marauding bands of other lakeside inhabitants.  The islands are composed entirely of cut grasses and have quite a bouncy consistancy. If you didn’t have a spring in your step upon arrival, you certainly do when traversing the settlement! It’s like a giant outdoor bouncy house.

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Resources


Activities
Sillustani Tombs – 
 Pre-Incan burial towers. There is little onsite in the way of information (in english or spanish) so a guide is a nice perk (although not necessary).
Floating Islands of Uros – Ask at your hotel for boat rates; they shouldn’t be too expensive given the short trip and frequency of departures.

Stay
Somewhere in Puno. 
I’m not going to recommend our hotel since we didn’t care for it.

Travel Arrangements
Marc Harrison 
at CAT Travel. www.cat-travel.com. marc@cat-travel.com


 

 

 


Up Next: Part 4. Cusco 


 Full Itinerary 

Part 1. Arequipa 

Part 2. Colca Canyon 

Part 3. Puno and the Floating Isles of Uros on Lake Titicaca 

Part 4. Cusco 

Part 5. Machu Picchu 

Part 6. The Sacred Valley

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