Lake Titicaca is the heart region of Puno and on one of the most important points of the South American continent. This wonderful lake connects Peru and Bolivia. It consists of two bodies of water seperated by the strait of Tiquina. It is around 204 km long, 65 km wide, with the deepest part near Soto Island at 283m. The largest part is located north of the lake, and is called Lake Maggiore or Chucuito. It is the highest navigable lake in the world. Several rivers flow into the lake, the most important being the river Ramis, Coata, Llave, Huancane and Suche. Besides there is another outlet river, named Desaguadero(meaning drainer) Despite the altitude, the temperature of the water is around 10 C, ideal for aquatic life. In the lake live a great number of birds and fish. The most common being Suches(Suchy is the Quechua name given to this fish native to lake titicaca), Carachis, Bogas(real name Sparus Box, small blue fish with gold stripes and thin teeth), Umantos, and Ipsis(small thin fish).
In the shallows of the lake, the totora, a resilient, floating plant grows in abundance. It is used to build the unique floating islands of Uros, Lake Titicacas top tourist attraction just 5km of Puno as well as houses and boats. The most significant islands on the peruvian side of the lake are; Taquile, Uros, Suasi, and Amantani . Uros is made up of many floating islands, which are home to the Uros tribe, whom predate the Incas. The legends say that they existed before the sun when the earth was still dark and cold and were immune to the natural destructive forces like drowning or being struck by lighting. They eventually lost their superpowers when they mixed with humans, thus disobeyiing universal order. They scattered, losing their identity, language and customs. They became Uro-Aymaras and now speak Aymara. Because of their simple way of life the Incas didn't think much of them and only taxed them very little. Nontheless the Uros, with their primitive reed houses outlived the great Incas with their mighty temples by a very long time.
Today the floating islands are home to 2000 Uros, who declare that they have black blood insusceptible to the cold. They call themselves the Kot-suña's or the people of the lake, and acknowledge themselves as the owners of the lake. They continue to live by fishing, weaving and now tourism. They catch fish to eat and also to sell on the mainland. They also catch shore birds and ducks for eggs and food. On occasion if the level of the lake decreases, they plant potatoes in soil created by the decaying reeds. They continue to live in their homes made of reeds. The roofs are waterproof but not humidity resistant. To protect the reeds cooking fires are built on a layer of stones.
Taquile on the other hand is in the center of the lake, four hours from the city of Puno, it is 6 kilometers long. This island is very special and peaceful; one of the Incas most cherished occupancies. The empire took possession of it in the 15th century and it has a number of Incan ruins. It is inhabited by about 2, 200 people whom are known as Taquileños and they are Southern Quecha speakers. There are no roads or electricity but plenty of hills.Their textiles are considered excellent quality worldwide. Knittting is an activity performed solely performed by men in Taquile, and you can tell who´s married and who´s single by the type of chullo hat they have! The women´s job is to make yarn and weave. The people live by the moral code ama sua ama llulla amaqhilla, which means do not lie, do not steal, do not be lazy. Infact they maintain this so fiercely that Police are not needed on this Island!
Their economy is mainly built on from fishing, potato cultivation and tourism. There are about 40, 000 visitors a year at Taquile.
Animals on the Taqile Island consist of cows, sheep, rams, chickens and guinea pigs. Cats and dogs are scarcely seen as you need permission from the authorities to own one.
During the Spanish conquest they were forbidden their traditional costumes so they took up wearing Spanish peasant clothing which they have maintained as traditional dress up till today, mixed with Andean style accessories. The chumpit is the traditional belt weaved by women. It consists of intricate rows of designs usually flora and fauna. One version is the calendar belt which illustrates the 12 months of the year. Additionally the women weave shawls, named llicllas and little purses with tassels known as chuspas that are created for carrying coca leaves. Children are taught to weave in order to work eventually.
In 2005 the weavers of Taquile were recognized globally for their work and earned themselves a UNESCO as a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in an aid to coserve the local culture. The old charm of Taquile guarantees the relaxation of body and mind away from the overwhelming modern world.