America,  Peru,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Puno and Lake Titicaca (Peru): visit of the floating islands Uros & Taquile

This is the second time we visit Lake Titicaca (see our article on the Bolivian side here), but this time we are interested in its Peruvian side.

Part 1: Travel Diary
Part 2: Practical Tips

Part 1: Travel Diary

Route Cusco – Puno

The day before we bought bus tickets to Puno in a travel agency. This one told us that the tickets would be given to us at 7pm. We had to wait until 8 pm and threatened to cancel our reservation so that they would be delivered to us at 8 pm. Surprise: the bus does not leave at 10:30 pm as we had been told, but at 10 pm.

Lesson of the day: in South America, it is better to buy the tickets directly at the bus terminal 😀

We immediately take a cab to the terminal (5 soles). Because of the late hour, we take care to take a real cab (i.e. with radio and phone number on the roof). A small stop to take a “pollo a la brasa” just in front of the terminal and we are ready for the night trip to Puno.

We have to take Tour Peru because our favorite company Peru Hop is on “break” during the rainy season. Tour Peru has a lot of negative opinions, but fortunately, apart from the driver’s aggressive driving (brutal braking), we don’t have other criticisms to make.


We arrive at 5:30 am in Puno (I put my alarm clock at 5:15 am not to miss the stop). It’s hard! JB doesn’t sleep all night because he doesn’t manage to lengthen his legs in spite of the purchase of the 1st class seats (in cama). As usual, I had a good night’s sleep, having developed the ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, after 8 months of travel. Fortunately, the hotel we chose(Posada de Percybal Lago Inn, Booking link, Agoda link) is just a 3mn walk from the terminal. And we have immediately a room despite the early morning arrival.

At 8 am, we are woken up by a huge noise on the side of the lake. It is a rehearsal for the feast of Candlemas the following day.

We will spend the whole day exploring this rather ugly city. Even its local market doesn’t manage to seduce us, the dishes are awful, but they have the advantage of being cheaper than in Cusco.

Note: it is the only Peruvian city where we ate badly, but we loved the markets in Cusco, Aqua Calientes..

In the main square, we come across a local festival (too much luck!), the inhabitants around Puno dress up to parade to the main square. The atmosphere is superb! We are told that the festival will be even bigger the next day.

JB takes the opportunity to get a shave (7 soles) and a haircut (10 soles). The hairdresser is so meticulous that not only does he disinfect his equipment with alcohol and fire, but he also changed blades twice.

We go to the port (3mn walk from our hotel) to buy the boat tickets for the next day.

JB finds Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side prettier.

Me, I prefer the Bolivian side. I find that the lake is less clean on the Peruvian side.

There are boats that leave regularly to the floating islands Uros, for 10 soles.

In the evening, not being very hungry, I stay at the hotel while JB goes out to get something to eat. He comes back just 5 minutes later having been bitten in the calf by a dog… Luckily his pants were a lifesaver and he has only a small scratch (no blood). Our doctor friend and JB’s mother are entitled to an emergency call at 2am French time (always have some credit on Skype to make calls to landlines or mobiles, it’s very convenient). Finally, they advise us to simply disinfect the wound, and since JB has also been vaccinated against tetanus, they didn’t worry any more.

Note: we didn’t get a rabies vaccine before the round-the-world trip, according to the advice of our doctors, since we always have a hospital nearby during our trip (and apparently despite the vaccine, we still need to get more shots, the vaccine only makes us gain another 24 hours). But consult your doctor’s advice before your trip.

JB thinks it’s a neighbor’s guard dog. And we develop a strategy to get out of the hotel the next day without crossing the dog’s path (i.e. cross the street right away).

Uros & Taquile

We opt for a one day tour to visit Uros for 1 hour and Taquile Island for 3 hours, for 25 soles/person + 5 soles entrance fee to Uros Islands. We could have gone to Amantani island, but this island already receives a lot of money from tourists spending a night on the island, so we want to help, economically, Taquile island, which receives less money.

The boat is supposed to leave at 7:30 am but the locals take the same boat as us and spend a lot of time loading the goods. Finally, we leave only at 8 am. The boat is much more comfortable than the one in Bolivia, with reclining seats as if we were in a bus. This morning, the water is particularly calm. In the distance, we see totoras (plants which look like reeds), there aren’t some on the Bolivian side, but there are a lot of them here.

30 minutes later, we arrive on one of the Uros Islands, built entirely of totoras (a kind of reed) and eucalyptus wood

Unlike the fake floating islands in Bolivia, these are authentic and much more stable. We are entitled to a long explanation on the construction of the island: base of totora roots, floating, then covered with large layers of fresh totoras. To prevent the island from drifting, large pieces of eucalyptus wood 10 meters long are planted to the bottom of the lake and attached to the floating part. Otherwise, as the gentleman said, there is a risk of drifting all the way to Bolivia hehe. Everything is explained in Spanish, but the speech is well established, miniatures have been made to illustrate the point, so everyone understood.

The floating islands were built by the Uros to flee the Incas. Now, there are no more Uros but Aymaras, who tell us that they still live there.

During the presentation, the gentleman talked about a traditional boat on which you can take a tour for 10 soles/person. Everybody remembered the idea of the boat. But no one withheld the payment of 10 soles. After the short ride (of no interest because we just float on the lake, with no precise destination), the tourists shouted scandalously, thinking it was free.

But hey, it was to be expected, let’s see! Especially since the prize was given many times but nobody really understood Spanish. No problem for us since we knew about it, but the price-quality ratio of the little ride is quite scandalous.

The short walk showed us that it was very difficult to navigate with a boat like this. I understand better why I rather see the locals fishing and collecting reeds with motor boats.

3 hours later, we arrive on Taquile Island. Having been warned by the ticket seller the day before, we follow the captain of the boat, because we have to go up to the top of the island to take back the boat from another port. The Bulgarian tourists seem to be totally lost, I have to be their translator.

It goes straight up, hard hard!

Arrived at the top, we all land in a restaurant with a panoramic view. On the main square, villagers in traditional dress dance and sing, I don’t know if it’s for Candlemas or for tourists. In any case it’s super nice!

The Bulgarians tell us about their misadventure by renting a car from Lima and taking the shortest way to Machu Picchu, according to Google Maps. They had to cross mini-rivers by car, they almost ended up at the bottom of the cliff, and had to pay a tractor to get them out of the mud. Thus, the one day itinerary turned into 3 days. They also showed us their small drone, bought for the occasion. The drone attracts the attention of everyone, especially the children.

This village surely has no electricity (even if we saw solar panels), but they manage to make us a grilled trout to fall. All this for 20 soles, tea included.

In the end, we will have spent 3 hours on the island. Sincerely, there isn’t much to see, contrary to the Isla del Sol where there are some ruins to visit.

The landscapes are still beautiful, but JB and I really don’t want to spend the night on an island without electricity, without running water. We are a little tired at the moment (and we are cold).

Having spent 2 nights on the Isla del Sol in Bolivia, we do not see the need to spend a night on a Peruvian island.

The lake is a little agitated on the way back. The rain will soon fall.

We still have the right to a nice sunset.

We loved this day even if the transport (6h round trip) takes over the visit and makes the day really long. I recommend you to sleep on site to enjoy it to the fullest.

I always prefer the Isla del Sol in Bolivia which I find less touristic compared to the Peruvian islands.

We hurry to the bus terminal to buy the tickets for Copacabana the next day. We have dinner in a restaurant right next to the terminal. It’s awful! Can’t wait for our return to Bolivia!

Part 2: Practical Tips

How to enjoy the Peruvian islands on Lake Titicaca

  • I advise you to spend as little time as possible in Puno and go directly to the islands (if your schedule permits).
  • Attention the Taquile and Amantani islands are real islands, like Isla del Sol. Only the Uros islands are floating islands.
  • Go to the port to buy boat tickets. There are several offers:

    • Round trip to the Uros Islands 10 soles, 2 hours in total, regular departures
    • 1 day : Uros -> Taquile -> Puno : 25 soles + 5 soles of entry to Uros + lunch at 20 soles
    • 2 days : Uros -> Taquile. One night in Taquile (ask the captain for help in finding a family to host you). Return to Puno the next day, from another port, on the other side of the island, at 5pm.
    • 2 days : Uros -> Amantani. One night in Amantani (ask the captain for help to find a family that can accommodate you). Departure and lunch in Taquile the next day. Return to Puno at 5pm.

  • Lonely Planet advises to spend the night at Amantani for its authenticity, but in the evening you will “dress up” as locals and there will be traditional dances. It’s rather touristic, isn’t it? Spending the night in Taquile is perhaps more authentic because the agencies don’t propose to sleep in Taquile anymore.
  • The agencies all offer day tours to Taquile or 2 days with night in Amantani. However they take a commission, it is better to buy the boat tickets at the port and ask the captain for the address of the villagers ready to welcome you. Thus, you will pay the accommodation directly to the villagers. If you stay with them, bring them some fruit or rice. As they are cut off from the world, they lack everything
  • There is a way to sleep on a floating island Uros, it is via Cristina. Between 50€-90€/person, a traditional boat will come to pick you up, you will stay one night on the floating island and go to look for totoras and go fishing with her husband. 951-69-5121, 941-47-2355, [email protected]. The travel diary + Cristina’s contact details are available on this blog
  • You can also book a night at Felix’s: $70 for two at Uros Amaru Marka Lodge (link Booking). The rate includes transportation from Puno and half board (dinner + breakfast)
  • A reader told us about her stay at Uros titicaca lodge, run by Ivan. I put her comment here:

    • “I just came back from my stay there which I loved, so I wanted to give you some information that may help your readers:
      – personally I chose not to spend any night in the very ugly city of Puno, I went directly to sleep at the titicaca lodge on the Uros islands. there are only 4 accommodations, activities and food are included. the rooms have panoramic windows on the lake, it’s magic!
      – i’m OK with you on the dirt level on this side
      -there was electricity on our floating island but the water was cold despite the solar water heater
      -i was able to meet people who really live on the islands and participate in a morning with children from a daycare center, it was great!”


  • Transport : Cusco – Puno : 35 soles in semi-cama or 60 soles in cama with Tour Peru
  • Lodging : Posada de Percybal Lago Inn (Booking link, Agoda link) 14€/night the double room with private bathroom and hot showers. Watch out for the neighbor’s dog (on the left when leaving the hotel).
  • Food: 5 soles at the local market (yurrrk). There are stands near the port, maybe they will be better?
  • Tour 1 day : Uros -> Taquile -> Puno : 25 soles + 5 soles the entrance + 10 soles for the traditional boat + 20 soles the lunch = 60 soles/person

To take with you

  • Small denominations + money (no ATM, 100 soles bills are difficult to flow)
  • Water
  • A hat + sunscreen
  • If you sleep on the islands, be prepared not to take a shower (or a very cold shower)
  • Snack: the day is very long
  • Music + extra drums: the trip is very long

After Puno?

  • You have the embarrassment of choice if you leave for another Peruvian city. Choose the company you want. We have tested the services of Tour Peru and we recommend, at least for the trip Cusco – Puno.
  • If you are going to Bolivia, there are 2 companies serving Copacabana: Tour Peru and Titicaca bus. Titicaca bus leaves every day at 6am, 7:30am or 10am. We tell you about our stay on the Isla del Sol (lake Titicaca) on the Bolivian side here.
  • It is best to go to Copacabana and then choose another bus to go to La Paz. There is an obligatory change of bus in Copacabana, you might be crammed into a minivan to La Paz. So, it is better to choose yourself the bus you like in Copacabana (departure from Copacabana to La Paz at 1:30 pm).

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