From the floating islands of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru, located at a breathtaking altitude of 12,500 feet, it seems one could reach their arms up and touch the ceiling of the sky. It is indeed the highest navigable lake in the world, a majestic body of stunningly blue water that mythology often points to as the birthplace of the Incas.
Taquile Island: A UNESCO World Masterpiece of Cultural Heritage
Cradled between Peru and Bolivia, the silence in this isolated oasis is near deafening and the landscapes absolutely serene. It is a destination that invites meditation, however you prefer to do so—and for locals, their dedicated focus is shown in vibrant and rich pre-Columbian artisanal traditions that continue to thrive. Despite the passing of time, local communities and responsible tourism have become ever more interconnected in order to preserve the natural and man-made beauty found on these islands.
In 2005, UNESCO declared the textile art of Taquile Island, one of the lake’s main islands, a world masterpiece of cultural heritage. Regardlass of age or sex, all of the Quechua-speaking inhabitants upon the mass of floating reeds have a hand in maintaining the tradition, proudly picking up a set of knitting needles from a young age.
Navigate Ancient Textile Traditions while Visiting Lake Titicaca
In addition to handknits, standing looms are often used, whereby fabrics are woven into typical Andean beanies (chullos) and waistbands that depict the annual agricultural and ritualistic cycles. Young women will weave cummerbunds to be used by their future husband, depicting their hopes for married life and often including strands of their own hair into the wide waistband. The local textiles are a visible preservation of ancient techniques, style and storytelling, an awe-inspiring skill to witness that sends visitors back in time.
While there is no lodging on the islands, travelers can fully immerse themselves in local culture and lifestyles by opting to spend a night in the home of a local family. If you prefer to fill your travel days with experiences and your nights with absolute comfort, the boutique lodge Titilaka is a luxurious option that is immensely involved in supporting the lake’s communities.
Titilaka — The Authentic Lake Titicaca Experience
Located on the Peruvian side of the lake, this 18-room retreat is completely isolated from the nearest city, Puno, and two hours by car from the regional airport in Juliaca. No matter which of the rooms you select, each looks over the still and vast Lake Titicaca. And while we can imagine ourselves spending the greater part of a day meditating over the serene environment, the all-inclusive lodge offers a variety of experiences that provide deeper insight into the area’s landscape and culture while uplifting nearby communities.
Through the work with Titilaka Lodge, indigenous communities of Lake Titicaca have been able to preserve their ancient weaving techniques and other artisan practices. In the following video you will meet Celedonio, one of the locals from the island that has worked closely with the lodge for many years, and whom our past clients have had the honor to personally meet.