It is 9am and the reflection of the sun on the lake water bothers the eyes. We begin crossing the lake in a boat on our way to the Reserva Nacional del Titicaca, which is located in the bay of Puno. As we stop on top of the bulrush, in the middle of Titino Island, the feeling of shrinking becomes inevitable as we are compared to the grandeur of Titicaca. To arrive there we traveled 30 minutes by boat to the port of Llachón and another 90 minutes from the airport Manco Cápac in Juliaca.
“Kamisaraki.” “Good morning.” This is how the residents of the island cheerfully greet each other. The smell of bulrush immediately filters in to your nasal cavities. It isn’t hard to understand why, Titino, like the other floating islands, survives on top of the lake’s surface due to this plant. Armando Suaña, environmental interpreter with the hotel Titlaka, explains how it all happens: “the root of the bulrush, once it is dry, becomes like a cork, which allows it to float over the water.”
He emphasizes that a base about ten meters long, five meters wide and a meter and a half deep is needed to assemble one of these floating islands. It is not necessary for the families that live upon these islands maintain them; this occurs naturally when they use the roots of the bulrush.
The experience becomes even richer as Sauña explains the local life-style, which includes what the islanders eat, how they build their homes and their economic activity (based primarily on tourism, but also on fishing and textiles).
The Surrounding Areas
Once you are lodged within Titilaka, each group prepares for its excursions in accordance with the programmed itinerary. The excursions closest to the hotel consist mainly in hiking, or, if you have a desire to do something more physical, bicycling.
To begin with, you can walk to the Arco Titilaka, located in the same community close to the hotel in the Platería section. The expedition takes three hours (round trip) and you will be required to climb a not so steep slope that is 50 meters long. However, this won’t affect the health of the novices who walk through the Altiplano.
A second option is a visit to the archeological site Inca Anatawi, a mountain where distinct Andean cultures, such as the Incas or the Collas, visited in order to give themselves energizing sun baths.
Without a doubt, the panoramic view of the lake, the close towns and the Cordillera Real of Bolivia constitute the biggest attractions of both these tourist options. Of course it is worth it to emphasize other attractions, as it allows for the traveler to meddle in the rural life style of the people of Puno, who can be observed within their daily agricultural and animal husbandry activities. Also, if you are lucky, you can see the traditional wool dyeing process. Afterwards the wool will be used to make carpets and upholstery.
During the day the sky is clear. The sun of the Altiplano is hot and burns, although the frozen winds at times take away its strength (especially during the months of the dry season). So, if you are going to find yourself doing many physical activities, a long-sleeve shirt should be enough to keep you warm.
Once you are acclimatized, you can begin to travel farther away from the hotel. You should by all means visit the island of Taquile, declared to be “Patrimonio Inmanterial de la Humanidad” by “Unesco” because it maintains, despite the passage of time, very particular traditions. One of these traditions obligates newlyweds to sit face to face three days without smiling or moving. It takes about an hour to arrive there from Titilaka. But it is worth it, as you can take a personalized trip around the island.
The boat anchors in Chujuno beach and from there you will begin the journey, in which native plants from the area such as “saliva” (which is similar to lima beans), la “muña” and the eucalyptus will catch your eye. While we listed to the explanations of the guide, we climbed a slope until we reached the house of Juan and María, a couple that lives on the island Taquile. They open the doors of their house to visitors in order to show them how they live and to prepare them a “huatia” (a sacred ritual similar to “pachamanca”). At last, they delight those who visit by serving them a soup made from quinua.
Of course if you are one of those relaxed travelers that prefers the idea of enjoying this Andean paradise from the comforts of the hotel, you can do just that in Titilaka; their packages include everything from gastronomy, drinks, wines and entertainment. Titilaka offers its guests wireless internet connection in every room and two laptops to be used for games.
Also, you can’t miss the sunrise or the sunset from your room (which depends, of course, on which side of the hotel you are on), and it is an even better view if you can see it while taking a hot bath.
If you like out of the ordinary plans, join the bonfire that occurs on the tiny island in front of the hotel and enjoy the sunset accompanied by appetizers and drinks.
Also, take advantage of the other services Titilaka offers its guests, such as kayaks, a sailboat, or a row boat. If you choose the third option ask if you can pass through the bulrush in order to see native bird species, such as the Andian duck.
Titlaka costs US$170 per night for Peruvians and Residents. If you would like more information or would like to make a reservation call 700 5100 extension 106 or click here.
The fastest way to get to Puno is via LAN Peru with destination Juliaca. The flight has a stopover in Arequipa, but the return flight is direct.
If you suffer from altitude sickness, we recommend that you bring medicines with you at all times in order to combat your headaches or other problems.
Mini-Interview with María Isabel Scheuch "La Vocera de Titilaka"
How did you create in Titilaka a program directed for Peruvians?
Taking advantage of the growing internal economy, we wanted to give the opportunity of getting to know one of the best destinations in the world with quality service but at accessible and promotional prices.
Our main objective is to bring to the traveler a complete and unique experience which includes quality service, excursions to the principal points of interest in the area, excellent food with local ingredients and unique outdoor activities.
We are located in a privileged place, 40 minutes from Puno by car, but far away from the other tourist centers. The traveler can enter the hotel via land or boat, as we have our own dock. We have a modern system of heated floors and all of the rooms have a view of the lake. The programs are flexible and offer personalized services.
Our guests look for comfort, good food, and adventure. Also, they are interested in the local communities due to their origins in the Incan culture, and they are given the opportunity to participate in development programs within those communities. They also enjoy the local natural surroundings.