Homestay on Amantani Island
A further note on the Uros Islands: As someone who has traveled to many countries over many years, I have to say that our time on the Uros Islands was, in my eyes, tourism at it’s absolute worst. I understand that the people that live on the Islands want to benefit from people visiting their home, and they should, but it also needs to be done in a way that offers something of real value to both parties. Travel, at it’s best, involves authentic cultural exchange and understanding, and the realization that there is more that binds us, then divides us…at least to me.
There was not a single traveler on our entire boat, that didn’t feel completely taken advantage of. None were willing to spend even one extra soles on anything on the Uros islands. Just as I’m sure the people of Uros don’t want to feel like animals in a zoo, tourists do not want to feel like walking ATMs.
Which brings me to our homestay on Amantani Island.
Two hours away from Uros on what was possibly the slowest speedboat in the world, Amantani managed to erase the bad taste of the T-Uros Islands, in just 1 night.
As we approached the dock, we were greeted by a small group of women. There were none of the big smiles and contrived waves we had encountered on Uros. Instead, the women hung back and gave us shy smiles, as a village elder determined which families would host us for the night.
The Bear and I, along with a Peruvian from Lima, followed our homestay lady to her home, a short 10 minute walk away. We were shown to our rooms, which were rustic, with no electricity and only an outhouse for a bathroom. The beds were large and surprisingly comfortable, and we settled in for a quick rest before lunch.
We’d been warned that meals would be very simple and starchy, and they were. We were served a simple vegetable soup to start, followed by the ‘main course,’ a plate of many different kinds of boiled potatoes and a slab of fried cheese. The meal was filling, if not wholly satisfying. But hey, this is what the people of Amantani ate everyday, and we could certainly do it for one day.
After lunch, our lady walked us to the main square, where we were met by a “tour guide,” from the island, that explained that there were 2 peaks on the island: Pachamama (Mother Earth), and Pachatata (Father Earth). We could choose to hike to either or both peaks.
We made our way up to the top of Pachamama. At 4100 metres above sea level, this was great training for our upcoming Inca Trail trek. At the top, we were able to see for miles in every direction and witness the natural beauty of the island itself
After watching the sunset until it became too cold, we made our way down the mountain and back to our homestay for dinner (which was more of the same). The Bear, clothed in traditional Quechua clothing, made his way back to the main square after dinner for a dance and music. Too cold to contemplate the half hour walk back in the dark, I huddled under the covers, and awaited his return a few hours later.
The next morning we woke early and had a breakfast of bread and instant coffee, that had been freshly prepared that morning on the family’s campfire stove kitchen.
And with that, our Amantani Island homestay was over. After saying good-bye to our family, we left with lighter hearts and a better sentiment about the Lake Titicaca Islands.
The Amantani Island homestay costs 30 soles per person and includes all food and accommodation ($23 for both of us). The homestay can be easily arranged by visiting the dock of Lake Titicaca in Puno. You can also arrange it through a tour company in the town, but it will cost more.