After our half-day tour to the Uros Islands, we went back onto our (relative) speed boat to head to the beautiful Taquile Island. Unlike the Uros Islands, Taquile island is a natural island on lake Titicaca and has about 2,200 inhabitants in total. Once on the island we did a 30 minute hike to the island’s highest point of 4,015m above sea level. It was definitely not easy to trek at this altitude and I was huffing and puffing all the way up the trail, but once we reached the top we were rewarded with such stunning views that I soon forgot about the lack of oxygen in the air at this level. I was in awe at how beautiful this little island is and could have stared at the bright blue lake Titicaca all day long.
Taquile island is about to get its first hospital soon but for now people have to travel all the way to Puno, some 45km offshore, for any medical treatment, including dentistry. It was for this reason our excellent guide gently pointed out that we should resist the temptation to give local children sweets or candy. Jumbo Travel Peru, with whom we travelled, describe themselves as a responsible tour operator, so I was pleased to see they not only talk the talk but actually act on their principles.
The children on the island were absolutely adorable (I noticed) and also quite entertaining too (Chris noticed). At one stage we walked past a young boy playing with a lamb. He bent down to look into the lambs eyes and was soon thanked with a loving headbutt for his troubles. Being a boy, he couldn’t resist a challenge so tried to outmuscle the lamb. I don’t think he realized how strong a lamb’s headbutt can be though as he looked a bit shocked when he got pushed onto his backside by the sheer force of the gentle looking lamb. He found it quite funny though and repeated his trial of strength again and again and again, losing every time 🙂
The inhabitants of Taquile Island are famous for their weaving and knitted goods. What I found really interesting, thanks to our guide’s fascinating cultural insights, is that these tasks are strictly split between the sexes. Only the men knit whilst the women weave. You can even see men walking around the island knitting as they walk – that’s how dedicated and talented they are. We were also told that a woman doesn’t select her future husband by his looks or money, but by how well he can knit. To test their skills with the knitting needles, the men present the island’s women with a hat they have made and then the women fill it with water. If it holds the water the men have passed the test and may be considered suitable partners. But if the hat leaks, they have to practise their knitting a bit more – or get used to a life of solitude.
For lunch our guided group was invited to a local family’s home. The lunch was absolutely terrific and I think we must have had the best view on the island. We had some delicious quinoa soup for starters and then trout, freshly fished from the lake, for seconds – all washed down with some Inca Kola which we weirdly became addicted to while in Peru (it’s bright yellow and tastes like liquid bubble-gum!).
After lunch our host family showed us some traditional dances, including a wedding dance. When dancers ask you to dance with them you are not really allowed to say no, so I ended up dancing with the world’s cutest little boy (see above), and Chris danced with one of the women (typical). The dancing was so much fun and a great way to end a beautiful dinner. I loved being able to get a glimpse of the family’s culture and was so pleased that they still very proudly practise their customs to keep their culture alive.
After the dancing, it was sadly time to say goodbye to my cute little dancing partner as we had to head back to Puno. But from my experience Taquile Island is a beautiful island and if you get the chance to visit it one day you should definitely go. But before you do, gentleman, I need to know how good your knitting is and whether you would be able to impress the local women by producing a water-tight woolly hat? And ladies, what about your weaving? Are you up for it or like us, are you only really good for eating fish and drinking Inca Kola?
Disclaimer: I received a small discount for the Taquile Island tour from Jumbo Travel Puno in return for a review on my blog. As always though, all opinions remain my own. And here comes the exciting part: readers of Tammy & Chris on the move will also receive a 15% of all of Jumbo Travel Puno’s tours. Just quote ‘Tammy & Chris on the move 15%’ when you contact them.