About 42 islands dot the tranquil waters of Lago Titicaca. The majority are in Peruvian territory. Of them, Islas Uros, Isla Taquile and Isla AmantanĂ are the most popular destinations. Travel agencies in Puno offer tours complete with lodging to these islands, but they may be done independently. The communities operate their own boat service and arrange homestays for arriving tourists. Not only is it less expensive to go on your own, you also know that the moneys are going directly to the islanders. Many still practice the ayllu system, in which wealth is pooled and shared evenly. Each of these charges an entry fee: foreigners $2, nationals $1, children under 13 years old free.
Other islands on the Peruvian side of Lago Titicaca that may be visited are Ticonata, the privately owned Suasi on the far side of the lake, and Anapia and Yuspique in Laguna de HuiĂ±aymarca, the southern part of the lake.
Lodging, food and other services are basic on the islands. If going with an agency, make sure guests are spread out and rotated amongst the families. The climate is humid, making the cold nights feel even more frigid. Although beds will have lots of blankets, travelers should consider bringing a sleeping bag. Also bring a filled water bottle, snacks, soap, toilet paper, any medicines one needs, a flashlight (torch) and a sense of adventure. Use warm clothing, sturdy walking shoes and protection against the strong sun (sunglasses, sun block, hat).
Water is scarce on the islands and should be conserved. Pack your trash out. Do not give begging children money, sweets of other items. Instead, buy the islandersâ€™ crafts, eat at the restaurant comunal and make a donation (especially good is a material one, like pencils for the local school) to the islandâ€™s governing counsel. Give the host family a gift of cooking oil, produce, rice or other item that cannot be locally grown.
Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...