Month Visited: December
We enjoy comfort at times, but we are also all in for excitement and new adventures, visiting remote locations and learning about the history and culture of the people in the area. Our days are full whenever possible, and we try to cram in as many experiences as we can for each stop and day. We are active and are willing to spend time outdoors, engaging in activities that include hiking and exploring nature. We make time as a family a priority, whether we are relaxing or crossing rugged terrain. Our children at the time of this itinerary: 4 children-Boy age 27 years, Boy age 25 years, Girl age 21 years, Boy age 17 years.
Special tips and warnings about this trip: You may need to receive a number of vaccinations before you go to Peru, in order to prevent disease and keep your family safe. It is also important to be careful about what you eat and drink while in this country, anything that contains well water or the local tap water should be avoided so that you do not end up with Montezuma’s Revenge resulting in diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset. Insect bites should be avoided if this is possible, and you may want to bring mosquito netting and insect repellant with you for protection. You also need to be aware that potable drinking water is scarce or non existent in many areas of Peru, and you should plan for this by bringing extra water to drink with you.
Description: The Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca are unique, just like the inhabitants that call these islands home. The islands can only be reached by boat, and they are floating islands created from the totora reeds. The Uros people use these reeds for almost every aspect of daily life, and the islands are created by adding additional layers of reeds as the top level decomposes. This process changes the shape of each island, and the Uros will create additional islands from these reeds as more space is needed. The islands float on top of the water in Lake Titicaca and the Uros have a unique way of life not found anywhere else. The Uros were around before the Incas, and these people were considered insignificant so the Incas did not tax them much because the Uros have little of value. Today the daily life of the Uros has not changed much, although they do sell items to tourists who visit. The number and size of the Uros islands changes over time. If the water level in Lake Titicaca drops too low then the Uros may plant certain vegetables like potatoes, but most of the time the reeds used to build the islands are also used for food and housing sources as well.
Our Experiences: Our tour of the Uros islands was fascinating. If you go be careful, some of the islands have a surface that is very thin, and you could end up stepping knee deep into the water if the surface breaks. The simple life that the Uros lead is very unusual, and we enjoyed learning about the population. There are many islands in this group, but some may be more difficult to reach or less stable than others. If you go make sure that you have a guide or a current map to ensure that you have the most up to date information about the islands before heading out. We were delighted to see that the boats used by the population have animal faces on them, and we were excited to see the Uros people going about their day weaving and fishing. We learned about the history of the Uros and were fascinated to see the homes and islands that were built from the reeds. The residents were wearing clothing that was layered in order to protect them from the elements, and it was cool when we visited so you may want to bring a jacket. This is a definite must experience for any family that enjoys history and unusual stops that are off the beaten path.
Description: Taquile Island is home to a little over 2,000 people, and this island is situated on Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side of the lake. The inhabitants speak Quechua and they are well known for the brightly colored textiles and clothing that they produce, all of which are hand woven for incredible beauty. Approximately 40,000 tourists visit this island each year so tourism does make up part of the economy, but the inhabitants of Taquile Island still live like they did hundreds of years ago. Unesco has declared the textile art created by the Taquile Island population as Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The moral code of the Incas is still honored on this island today and they follow a collectivism philosophy, but the population does use solar panels and other technological advancements. Many of the island inhabitants are Catholic, having converted early on while keeping their traditional roots and religious ceremonies.
Our Experiences: Our tour of the Taquile Island was a great experience, and even the kids had a lot of fun. The clothing and handicrafts that we found were amazing, with intricate work and bright colors that were very beautiful. We were surprised to see an abundance of animals on the island, and these included chickens, guinea pigs, sheep, rams, and even cows. We had to take a boat to reach the island and we were surprised by the number of visitors when we arrived. Watching the local residents knit and weave was very interesting. Our guide explained that only the males knit, an activity that they learn early on and start at around 8 years old. The females are responsible for yarn making and weaving. This was a very interesting and educational stop that is highly rated by the kids and adults in our family.
Description: Cusco brings the history of the Andean people alive, and a walking tour allows you to experience this history up close and in a personal way. Descendants of the Inca can be found at every turn, on the streets and in the markets, speaking Quechua rapidly. You will find churches from colonial times that were built on top of stonework with incredible smoothness, stonework that was laid long before the Conquistadors arrived in Peru. During the afternoon rural farmers can be seen bustling about in bright clothing, and there is an open air market full of local foods that are unique and elaborately designed textiles for sale. There is a market for witches that is adjacent to the open air market, for those interested in love potions and other magical brews. The Center for Traditional Textiles in Cusco is a local organization whose goal is to preserve the weaving traditions of the region, and this is held in Chinchero on Sundays.
Our Experiences: We felt like we went back in time as we toured Cusco by foot, and the sights and smells were amazing. The colorful farmers with their brightly colored clothing are very noticeable, and the open air market was very interesting and educational. We watched weavers practice their art, and we stopped by the witch market to see what it was all about and the kids were really excited. The churches and other structures were awe inspiring, and we tried some of the local foods although we chose carefully to avoid any illness or diarrhea. We all learned a lot about the history and culture of the region, and this was an afternoon well spent according to all our family members.