Teach Through Educational Travel: Uros Island Village, Peru

Can you imagine living on a floating island? One that you have to maintain (read: repair) by hand, to bolster the safety of your home? Welcome to the floating islands of the Uros people. Located on Lake Titicaca, in Peru, the floating islands of the Uros are an ingenious way of utilizing natural resources for daily living. The islands are part of Titicaca National Reserve. The Uros consider themselves guardians of the lake, and are a pre-Incan civilization. About 2,000 Uros still live on the floating islands, while the rest have moved to the mainland.

Each island (and there are many – some accounts say 42, while others say 90+) is handcrafted from dried totora reeds, which grow plentifully in Lake Titicaca. The reeds are used for more than crafting islands, houses, and boats, however – they can also be used as food, medicine, and tea. The islands (which can house up to 10 families) need to be constantly repaired, and completely replaced every 20-30 years or so. There are separate “outhouse” islands. For cooking fires, the Uros work on layers of stone (so as not to catch their islands on fire).

Because this is such an unusual living situation, tourism is growing. The Uros allow tourists to visit a few of the islands. Remember, when someone walks on the reeds, they break and start to need repair. So the more tourists there are, the more work the Uros need to do. One of the islands even has a homestay program, for a lucky few visitors to sleep over.

Teach Through Educational Travel


  • Watch these videos about the Uros and their Floating Islands: short video or long video
  •  Can you imagine living on a floating island that you have to keep repairing? How much time do you think you’d need to work on your home, every day? Would you be willing to spend that much time on maintaining your home? Would tourism income influence your decisions?
  • Small cultures have made many contributions to global exploration, development, and the ease of daily life. Read this article about the Uros people throughout history. Discuss how the Uros people helped discover Oceania, and how their knowledge can be used in the world today.
  • Tourism is definitely changing the way of life for the Uros. It not only provides them with a new means to earn a living, but it also makes the islands deteriorate more quickly, due to increased traffic. Read this article about tourism on the Uros Islands and then discuss the ramifications of tourism on small native cultures. Do you think that tourism has “Disney-fied” the Uros Floating Islands?


Article written by Sarah Wyland

Sarah Wyland
Sarah never gets in trouble for being on Facebook and Instagram at work, because its her job. As social media manager, she gets to tell the stories of travelers, teachers, and interesting places. Other titles she enjoys include dog mom to Knox, barre instructor, Crossfit athlete, avid reader, and world traveler.