Located on the border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable lake and home to some amazing and beautiful places.
Amantani Island is another place which preserves the traditions of the old empire.
About 40 km away from Puno, on the Lake Titicaca, Amantani island is situated.
It has two mountain peaks, Pachatata(“father earth”) and Pachamama (“mother earth”) and terraced hills, mostly worked by hand.
The main activity of the people is farming potatoes. They have also a small textile industry, but not as developed as the other islands.
In Amantani there is also a cooperative where some families subscribe and receive tourists at their home. With the help of www.titicacaperu.com, they started to hosted tourists and to show them their ways of life.
The tourist schedule on Amantani happens on a rotational basis. Every week, a different community hosts tourists. Once in the program, each family is able to host tourists like once a month. The community leader does the hosting assignments so that every family can have an equal chance to participate.
With this cultural program, each family will provide the same meals to their guests: lunch and dinner on the arrival day and breakfast on the departure day. They would show their guest how they live and how they worked their land.
Following the Uros islands visit, we continued sailing to Amantani. Here we had a cultural exchange experience which was very touching and fascinating.
Unlike the Uros Islands which are home to the Aymara, the people of Amantani are Quechua.
Two completely different cultures flourished so close to each other.
They each have their own language, their own clothes, and their own culture.
We arrived on Amantaní Island where a local girl was waiting for us.
Soon after, we were walking with her to the house.
Once arrived at the house, we felt very welcomed by our Amantani family. They weren’t new to the hosting program, because there were very used with tourists.
Their home was basic: downstairs it had a room which was next to the kitchen and upstairs it had a few rooms that could host tourists.
The upstairs rooms were basic too, with no heating, but we had plenty of blankets.
The house had electricity due to a solar panel that was enough to electrify the home for a few hours a day.
The toilet was outside in the inner yard of the house. No running water, so flushing was done manually with a bucket of water.
But the place was more than enough to host us for a night.
They prepared a homemade traditional lunch and arranged the table with lovely flowers. They were so cute while arranging the table.
First, we had a delicious quinoa soup. Next, they served us different types of boiled potatoes and Andean cheese.
After lunch, we spent some time with the family and share with them the regular activities they do as farmers.
The beauty of a simple life.
That afternoon, we hiked to the top of the island with our small group and guide. The hike was steep and difficult because of the high altitude. The long-paved path winds its way up the side of the mountain to the very top. On this island, you cannot find any cars or in fact any traditional roads. Some families have scooters that can use on the tight cobbled roads. We walked to the highest point on Amantani. This view point is called “Pachatata” and it has been for many centuries the sacred place of worship for the people of this community. From this site, we had enjoyed the view of the magnificent Lake Titicaca at the sunset.
After that, we returned ‘home’ where the family prepared us dinner. After an hour or so, they called us into their small room and we started our dinner with a mint tea, freshly picked up from the neighbor hills that helped us with the feeling of cold.
The dinner was simple and similar to the lunch. It was delicious and we tried to thank the family for it.
They told us that they eat meat twice a year, the rest of the year the cooked vegetable and, in some rare case, some fish.
In these parts, there is always a reason to enjoy music and dance and it is an important part of life in the Andes.
This is the reason why after dinner, the community of Amantani organized a gathering at our local family.
So, a local group of musicians played Andean music and we are invited to join the dance and the happy celebration. But not before we tried the local dresses, “ponchos” and costumes.
Our family enjoyed herself and our group had a big laugh learning the local dance steps, which weren’t very difficult.
By the end of the evening, we were exhausted. It had been a really long day, with several hikes up and down the island, so it did not take much before we headed to bed.
But sleeping with no heating at very high altitude having altitude sickness was not easy at all.
All night long, we felt so sick.
Our wake-up call was very early in the morning and we were greeted downstairs with a plateful of pancakes.
After breakfast, we said goodbye to our host family and took the boat back to Puno.
One thing that I really appreciated about this visit was the opportunity to sit down with a few of this people and hear a bit about their way of life on the island.
Life on the island is simple, but people are happy to live here, which rise a question:
What do we really need to be happy?
We booked a 2 days tour of Lake Titicaca (Uros and Amantani,) through www.titicacaperu.com. Their service was great.
And what is more important is that this travel agency is trying to help communities in a healthy-smart way.