Islas Uros

Arriving at the Islas Uros.

You may remember me mentioning the Islas Uros in my previous Peru travel post. They are the unique floating islands of Lake Titicaca that are home to the Uros people. If you read that post you may have noticed too that getting to them is quite a long journey! So, is it worth taking 2-3 days out of your Peru adventure to visit them? I’ll be sharing my opinion and a bit more detail about the islands below. (And I would love to hear your opinions in the comments section!)

Islas Uros

What are the Islas Uros (a.k.a. Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca?

The Islas Uros are located very close to the city of Puno in Peru, which is where Lake Titicaca is located. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable body of water in the world and also the largest lake in South America. The floating islands are the main reason to visit Lake Titicaca. But what are they exactly?

These islands are made by the Uros people out of totora reeds. The Uros people live on these islands in Lake Titicaca (about a 2-hour boat ride from Puno). Upon arriving at the islands for a tour, you will be given a demonstration of how the islands are constructed. (See photos below.)
Isla Uros

The ground is very soft and springy. The island we had visited was approximately 10 years old. We were told about 30 years is how long people can live on an island before needing to build a new one.

Islas Uros

The reeds that grow abundantly near the islands are also edible. We were also invited to try one, with the disclaimer it could give you diarrhea…needless to say, not many people tried it. Haha.

Islas Uros

Not many folks were brave enough to eat it. Haha.

The huts people live in are very basic. You have room for a bed, table, your clothes…and of course, a TV and radio. Many of the huts utilized solar panels for electricity.

Islas Uros
Islas Uros

You can pay a small fee when you visit the islands to take a boat ride in the boat pictured below. These boats are built solely for the purpose of hauling tourists around the lake – FYI.

I was really sick that day due to the altitude. (Puno is about 500 meters higher than Cusco in elevation…and it really got to me!) So, I did not take a boat ride.

Islas Uros
Islas Uros

Instead, I stayed on the island and a nice lady gave me a tour of her home and even dressed me in her clothing for a photo.

Islas Uros

However, once the demonstration and boat rides are over, you are given “free time.” This basically means, all the ladies set up shop and encourage you to buy handicrafts “that took months to make.” And you are heavily encouraged to buy these quite expensive handicrafts to “help” the Uro people. (And there wasn’t a single thing here you couldn’t buy for a fraction of the price at any other market in Peru.)

Islas Uros

You are pushed heavily to buy handicrafts here.

So, are the Islas Uros Worth the Journey?

In short, no. I didn’t think they were worth taking such a large chunk of time out of our trip to see. We spent maybe an hour on the islands. And after we were done at this island they dropped us off at another island to buy snacks and drinks for a few moments.(We also visited another World Heritage site after this, but I’ll talk more about that in the next post.) Buying a donut filled with dulce de leche (from Argentina), was tasty, but didn’t really add to the feel of “an authentic experience.”

Some people absolutely loved this experience, though, and said it was the highlight of their trip. I’m not sure if perhaps they had a more private tour? Or maybe visited a less commercialized island?

Either way, for my experience, I felt as though I was being sold a commercialized experience the moment we stepped on the islands. It was such a large tourist trap, in my opinion.

Islas Uros

I also was not a fan of hard we were pushed to buy things after the demonstration. It just made me uncomfortable, and they didn’t have anything for sale that was unique.

Bottom line: If you have time to visit the islands and are interested, I’m not trying to talk you out of it. Everyone seems to have a vastly different opinion on this experience. However, if you only have a limited amount of time in Peru (like we did), don’t feel bad skipping this portion of Peru. Peru has SO many different experiences to offer that won’t knock 2-3 days off your trip.

And honestly, this was my least favorite experience of our Peru trip. I am by no means knocking our tour guide or the local company we booked through. I just really was underwhelmed by the Islas Uros experience in general. (My husband had said the exact same thing as well.)

If you are interested in seeing the tour we had done, click here.

If you’ve visited the Islas Uros, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments! And if you haven’t visited, what do you think? Would you still be interested in visiting them? Let me know too!

 
If you like it, Pin it!

Islas Uros of Lake Titicaca
 
Links à la Mode, October 19th, 2017

Follow

Disclosure: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Meaning, if you click a link and make a purchase, Have Clothes, Will Travel gets a very small commission. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible!

A Sunday Stroll Through the Park Attire
Silk Scarf+ Little Black Dress for Rojo Tango Show
I appreciate each and every share! Thank you for supporting Have Clothes, Will Travel.

18 thoughts on “Are the Islas Uros (Floating Islands) of Lake Titicaca Worth the Journey?

  1. Jodie

    It’s always so nice to hear an honest account, Lindsey. And your experience about the commercial portion is always how we feel when we visit Mexico. But then again, maybe some people like that??
    I did enjoy seeing your photos, and it’s quite an interesting concept!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com

    Reply

  2. Lorna

    Thank you for sharing this honest review on it. Most people would say it was amazing, even if they didn’t think so. That’s such a shame it felt commercialized and you were forced to buy things. I can understand why they do it, but like you, I don’t like being pressured and it instantly puts me off so I can understand why it didn’t feel very authentic to you. Well at least you’ve experienced it now and reed islands made like that do look cool, so it’s on your ‘done’ list at least!

    Raindrops of Sapphire

    Reply

    1. haveclotheswilltravel Post author

      Oh gosh, thank you for taking the time to read the post, Lorna. And yes! That is a brilliant way to look at it. I have at least experienced it! And it honestly wasn’t a “horrible” experience. I just didn’t’ think it was worth spending 3 days of my trip to do. 🙂

      Reply

  3. David Astley

    It’s very interesting that you had such a different experience than we had. We went to the same island (because the woman in the white hat, red jacket and green dress is in many of the photographs that I have) but had no pressure to buy anything. I do recall that at one stage someone brought out a wall hanging for us to look at, but I just said to the guy who had accompanied us on the boat from the port (who was the only person who could speak English) “It’s very nice, but we are on a five-month journey through the Americas and we are already at our baggage limit for our flights, so we can’t buy any souvenirs on this trip”. He relayed that to the woman with the wall hanging, and after that there was no pressure to buy anything.

    Our visit felt very ‘uncommercial’ compared to yours. Perhaps that’s because on the organised tours the tour guide gets a commission for anything you buy on the islands. In our case, we just arrived in Puno by bus, dropped our bags off at a hotel we had booked online a few days prior, and then went down to the port to find a boat to take us out to the islands. There were four of us and I don’t remember the price we paid for the boat, but I remember thinking it was quite a good deal. I’m sure it was a lot cheaper than the price of the tour that you went on.

    Reply

Leave a comment