Keeping Peruvian Islands Afloat
Associates, Australias first and longest established tour operator
to South America, the Arctic and Antarctica, now features a
visit to Las Islas Flotantes as part of their acclaimed Rhumba
South America Tours.
centuries, the reclusive Uros tribe of Peru have lived in a
real-life waterworld on Lake Titicaca in the Peruvian Andes.
huge floating pontoons from the buoyant totora reeds, the Uros
Indianswaterborne communities of Islas Flotantes (floating islands)
have afforded them protection from rival tribes, the Inca and
despite hundreds of years of isolation, the Urosway of life
is threatened by the encroaching land-based population in nearby
Puno, Perus major port town on the 8300 square kilometre lake.
plight of the Uros was highlighted in a feature story on National
Geographic Channel recently.
issues facing the people living on the floating islands are
multifold," says anthropologist Arrufo Alcantara Hernandez,
director of the faculty of social sciences at the Universidad
Nacional del Altiplano in Puno. "The waters of the Uros
have been overfished by commercial fishermen, tourists are affecting
their traditional culture and sewage from Puno is causing environmental
and health problems."
the growth of tourism on the lake has been something of a relief
for the Uros, bringing them much-needed cash. This has reduced
their reliance on the dwindling fish stocks and enabled them
to purchase motorboats and medicines.
to National Geographic, Melchora, one of the elderly Uros women
selling handicrafts to the tourists, said The amount of tourists
grows every year. At first, only a few Uros chiefs permitted
tourists, now nearly all the islands take tourists.
their resilience, Hernandez remains confident that the Uros
people and their culture will remain intact.
successfully dealt with many serious challenges over the last
few centuries," he says. "I think if the Uros people
use foresight and care, they'll be able to overcome their problems
and balance their traditional lifestyles with the modern world."
adventure travel operator, Adventure Associates, has organised
tours to South America, including Peru and Lake Titicaca, for
information or brochures please contact:
197 Oxford Street (PO Box 612)
Bondi Junction NSW 2022
Tel: (02) 9389 7466 TOLL FREE : 1 800 222 141