Taquile Island is a small island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, about 45km by boat from the city of Puno. Taquile’s famous weaving traditions and textile art, have been proclaimed ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO and the Island had long been on my bucket list.
The locals or ‘Taquileños’ as they are known have developed their own system of community homestay tourism where visitors to the island can stay with a local family and get a feel for how they live. We lodged with local man Silvano and his family. His wife Roberta met us at the port dressed in a bright red ‘pollera’, a layered skirt worn by local women. She accompanied us on the 45 minute walk to her house all the while spinning her spindle of alpaca wool.
She dropped us off, showed us our room and then promptly departed to return to the community work session that was taking place on another part of the island to build a new dock. If there was one thing we learnt on Taquile it was that they work hard and almost all the time. Life here is different to what we know. There are no vehicles of any kind except wheelbarrow type trailers to haul goods around the island and they live off the land cultivating livestock and vegetables.
Homestay accommodation on Taquile is rustic. The houses are generally built of adobe bricks and would be considered ‘unfinished’ compared to our western standards. Our room had a cement floor, two single beds heaped with blankets to ward off the chilly evenings, a single light bulb and a candle. The bathroom is shared and there are no showers or running water but Roberta does leave out a bucket of warm water in the mornings so you can wash.
A basic dinner of rice, beans and fried potatoes is offered in the evenings and pancakes and instant coffee or fresh ‘muña’ Andean mint tea are served for breakfast. Roberta’s father joined us for breakfast and we spent a pleasant hour talking about Taquile tradition with him.
This is rustic accommodation so don’t expect otherwise. A homestay on Taquile Island is a unique cultural experience and was a nice contrast to the luxury of some of the hotels we stayed at on this trip. It was lovely to be welcomed into a local family’s home and to learn more about how they live, rather than to make the standard one hour tourist pit-stop on the island.
The homestay forms just one part of an overall Taquile experience. Spending a day wandering along the cobbled footpaths, diving into the icy-cold water of the lake, watching locals go about their day and finding the perfect sunset view point made our visit to Taquile remarkably special. It was a reminder of another time when things were slower and we actually had time to sit back and enjoy life with no aim or goal in mind. This experience alone was priceless..
Best of Peru Travel Recommends:
- You need at least one full day to explore the Island so ideally a two night stay on Taquile is best so you have time to explore and get a real feel for the Island.
- If there are a few of you travelling together ask to be put in different houses so that the economic benefit is distributed among the community.