Like nearby Taquile, AMANTANI, a basket-weavers’ island and the largest on the lake, has managed to retain some degree of cultural isolation and autonomous control over the tourist trade. Amantani is the least visited of these two islands and consequently has fewer facilities and costs slightly more to reach by boat. Of course, tourism has had its effect on the local population, so it’s not uncommon to be offered drinks, then charged later, or for the children to sing you songs without being asked, expecting to be paid. The ancient agricultural terraces are excellently maintained, and traditional stone masonry is still practised, as are the old Inca systems of agriculture, labour and ritual trade. The islanders eat mainly vegetables, with meat and fruit being rare commodities, and the women dress in colourful clothes, very distinctly woven.
The island is dominated by two small hills: one is the Temple of Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the other the Temple of Pachatata (Father Earth). Around February 20, the islanders celebrate their main festival with half the 5000-strong population going to one hill, the other half gathering at the other. Following ancient ceremonies, the two halves then gather together to celebrate their origins with traditional and colourful music and dance.