Why a Lake Titicaca Home Stay is a Worthwhile Cultural Experience
Travelers looking to stay around Lake Titicaca are spoilt for choice, with everything from luxury lakeside resorts to more basic backpacker digs on offer. But for those for a little more cultural immersion, there is no better option than a Titicaca homestay. As the guest of a local family, visitors can gain a fascinating insight into the unique way of life of these enchanting indigenous people.
The Uros Islands
Originally conceived in an attempt to escape the Inca empire, the floating islands of Uros are one of the most remarkable attractions in Peru. Just a handful of the 60 or so totora reed islands are open for day tripping tourists, while a number of others offer homestays for intrepid travelers who want to experience day to day life in the community. Visitors eat with their host family and sleep in a guest room, with little more to do than watch the waves lap up against the reeds in a community that feels totally removed from the stresses of modern life.
A number of local Uros families currently offer their home to guests, the best of which is Uros Summa Paqari who are renowned for their warm hospitality.
Jaw dropping lake views, warm and friendly hospitality as well as a vibrant nighttime music and dance show leave travelers raving about their time on Amantaní Island. Homestays with a local Aymara family are the bread and butter of tourism here, with a large community-based initiative allocating new arrivals to different families each day.
Most visit Amantaní as part of a two-day Lake Titicaca tour departing from Puno, although it is possible to arrive independently by taking a ferry from the port. Food is very basic, typically consisting of produce native to the island, so bring extra snacks if you’re a fussy eater.
Another fascinating place for a homestay is Taquile Island, just a short boat ride away from Amantaní. Virtually all organised tours spend the night in Amantaní instead, meaning an overnight stay on Taquile is a blissfully foreigner-free experience. Speak to the workers at the port who will allocate you to a local family to spend the night. While on the island, be sure to check out the work of the local male weavers who are said to produce some of the best handicrafts in Peru.
For a true off the beaten track experience, opt for a homestay on the quaint peninsula of Llachon. This small lakeside community has no hotels, but invites visitors to stay in their homes as part of a community-based tourism initiative. Arrangements can be made by simply arriving and speaking to the locals, booking through a Puno travel agent, or even through AirBnB. Either way, be sure to bring some supplies from Puno such as cooking oil, toilet paper or fresh fruit as a gift to your host family.