Touring Lake Titicaca
If you're trying to figure out how to tour Lake Titicaca, you have options of either half day or full day tours. Although, some tour operators offer an overnight experience at a homestay. We found full day and half day options through FindLocalTrips.com with Kollasuyo Travel. Most full day tours are from 7:15am - 5:00pm for $20 USD and cover the Floating Uros & Taquile Islands; lunch is also included. Half day tours are also available through Lago Explorer for $10, but they are only 2 hours from 4:00pm-6:00pm.
Some people have told me that they didn't know that was a real lake; I can tell you first hand that it exists. It actually is a natural boundary between Peru and Bolivia. This lake is also the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,562 ft and 980 ft at its deepest point!
Just after 7:00 am the tour agency picked us up from the hostel in a Sprinter van. From almost any hostel it's only about a 5-10 minute drive to the docks. To our surprise, we got on a 40ft motorboat that even had a bathroom on board! From there it took about half an hour to get to the Uros Islands.
The Uru people are an indigenous group of people native to Peru and Bolivia. They live on a series of floating islands made from reeds that are about 10 ft (3 meters) thick. Fun Fact: these reeds only grow in the part of the lake where the islands exist. It can take about a year to construct one of these islands, and they typically last for 35 years. However, the Urus do annual maintenance work by adding more reeds to ensure their homes stay afloat. As the rainy season comes, the islands rise with the water level of the lake.
The Uru are completely self reliant and even have solar panels on their islands to provide them with electricity. We visited an island with 6 families (20 people in total). Each island has a President that rotates each year from a member of each of the families. The entire Uru community even has their own school system on the islands complete with elementary through high school. The Uros islands are actually part of a National Reserve in Peru that was established to protect the culture of this indigenous group of people.
Tip: You can take a short ride on one of the floating Uros reed boats, but it will cost you an additional 10 Soles ($3 USD)
Taquile (pronounced like Tequila) Island is the final stop for the full day tour. The boat dropped us off on one side of the island and we started a walking tour. We walked up to a restaurant on the hillside that served us the lunch. There are two options for lunch; fish, or an omelete. Both main courses come with a side of rice and veggies, plus you get soup and some bread for an appetizer. To be honest, I was not feeling 100% this day so I couldn't stomach all the food.
Pro Tip: Bring some hand sanitizer and toilet with you. I used the bathroom and could not find any soap for the life of me.
After lunch, we walked onward to the main square where there were stalls with locals selling souvenirs. The views from the top of the island were amazing, the sky and water looked incredibly blue. It's even possible to see Bolivia from Taquile island, which was pretty neat.
From the square, we walked back down to the to the boat on the other side of the island. Hopping on the boat took us on the 1.5 hour journey back to Puno. Needless to say, we were pretty beat after doing the full 10 hour tour. Especially after taking an overnight bus from Cusco where we arrived in Puno at 5:00 am.
From our experience, we like to use Hostel World to check out potential hostels, then check other booking websites like Booking.com to make our reservations. Sometimes we also message hostels directly to get a better price. We also like to use Airbnb to book accommodations if its a better deal than hostels. Clicking on either of the icons will give you a deal with either of the sites, but are affiliate links so we earn a small commission.
Private Rooms: $22.50+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, 24 Hr Security/Reception, Tours/Travel Desk, Luggage Storage, Cafe
Dorms: $6.70+ USD
Private Rooms: $18.00+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Tours/Travel Desk, Self Catering Facilities
Dorms: $6.93+ USD
Private Rooms: $21.74+ USD
Amenities: Free Breakfast, Free Wifi, Self-Catering Facilities, Cafe, Tours/Travel Desk