Lake Titicaca is the heart of the region of Puno and on one of the most important points of the South American continent. This wonderful lake connects Peru and Bolivia. It is around 283 m deep and 190 km. long if you consider the territories of both countries. It is the highest and one of the longest navigable lakes in the world. Despite the altitude of the place, the temperature of the water is around 10 C, ideal for aquatic life. The lake houses a great number of animal species such as wild ducks, different birds and fish (suche), the carachis. The totora, an edible plant used to build floating islands, houses and caballitos de totora (typical boats) is the most representative from all the islands on the peruvian side of the lake, Taquile, Uros, Suasi, and Amantani are the most important: Uros is made up of many floating islands, which are currently inhabited by the Aimaras, the heirs of customs of the lost town of Uros. the villagers fish with rustic nets and live in huts. Taquile on the other hand is in the center of the lake, four hours from the city of Puno. The island is very special; their inhabitants speak quechua (the language of the region) and not aimara. The people are mainly fishermen and weavers that wear beautiful multi color attires as the chumpi or the lliclla. There is not any noise in the island, policemen, electricity or dogs. We recommend taking the challenge of staying in Taquile and enjoy a few quiet days away from the overwhelming modern world
Location: 1320 km. southeast of Lima.
Altitude: 3810 m.a.s.l.
In the vast South American plateau, in the Altiplano, between Peru and Bolivia, a large lake opens up, an extensive inland sea located at 3,812 meters above sea level, with an area of about 8,400 km2. Crimped like a huge sapphire in the Andean plateau, it is the highest in the world.
It serves as a means of communication to the nations it crosses and also as a romantic provider of mysterious legends.
Did you know that Lake Titicaca, located between Bolivia and Peru, owes its name to a legend about the arrival of Inca kings from the sun? "Titi" means puma and "Caca", gray. That is, gray cougar. And legend says that the first Inca emperor descended to Earth on a rock on Isla del Sol, on Lake Titicaca. Some say that the shape of that gray rock looked like the head of a puma.
What makes Lake Titicaca unique?
Lake Titicaca is more than 3800 meters above sea level, which makes it the highest navigable lake in the world. It has an area of 8562 km² that extends from the west of Bolivia, to the southeast of Peru in the city of Puno, its maximum depth is 281 meters. But if all this is not enough reason to encourage you to take a trip there, here are 4 more reasons for you to consider a visit to Lake Titicaca on your next vacation:
Why is Lake Titicaca important to the Incas?
Lake Titicaca, once venerated by the Incas and now considered one of the purest places in the world, is the origin of this empire. The legends abound: one of them assures that the Sun and the Moon took refuge in its waters, in the darkness, during the days of the deluge, and there the gods that gave origin to the world were found.
The inhabitants of the Inca Empire also told that one day the Inca Manco Capac and his sister and consort, Mama Ocllo, left the waters of the lake with the mandate of their father, the Sun, to found the empire uniting the indigenous cultures in the name of peace and civilization. That empire was the Tahuantinsuyo, which had in this region of the Titicaca - now shared between Bolivia and Peru - a natural treasure where to raise llamas and alpacas, cultivating quinoa, potatoes and coffee. In this "his" or region of the empire, in addition, the entrails of the mountains were rich in gold and silver, the metals that the Incas offered to the gods ... and the conquerors to their kings.
Lake Titicaca and the floating islands
The floating islands of the Uros, are a series of artificial islands in the Titicaca Lake, on the Peruvian side, created by the Uros. The Uros are an ethnic group previous to the Incas, originating from Lake Uro in Bolivia, who, to escape the Inca wars, took refuge in Lake Titicaca. First, building totora boats, a plant that is found in abundance on the shores of the highest navigable lake in the world. With time, the experience that they were winning, led them to build artificial islands joining their boats, and then expanding them using the totora.
These islands reach up to 3 meters thick and are in constant maintenance since the natural materials with which they are built are degraded. Currently there are 82 artificial islands (or 30 islands, or 20, depending on who tells you), where in each one lives a family, and each island has its boss.
In addition, there are community islands, where, for example, there is a church, soccer field, among others. And of course, the capital island, an island in which I will expand below to expose one of the lies of the Uros.
When to visit Lake Titicaca?
The best time to visit Puno is after or before the rainy season (December to March) and, if possible, avoiding the high season of July / August. If in the same trip you are going to visit Cusco keep in mind that the Inca Trail closes many times in January / February for maintenance. The climate is quite cold due to the height, with an average temperature that ranges between 3 and 15 degrees.
Lake Titicaca is located in the city of Puno, in southern Peru, part of this majestic lake belongs to the neighboring country, Bolivia. To get there by the side of Peru, first you have to get to the city of Puno and for this there are different means, by train, plane or bus; they can start from different cities
In case you want to get to Puno by this means the city has a single airport that is located in the province of San Román in the district Juliaca. This airport receives airplanes from Lima, Arequipa and Cusco.
The flight from Lima takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes; from Arequipa, the duration of the trip depends on the place of stopover; and from Cusco, the flight lasts approximately 50 minutes.
Train Andean Explorer The train from Cusco to Puno is probably the best option to enjoy the beautiful landscapes that are covered. The Andean Explorer train of the PeruRail company is the only one that offers this service and the departures are scheduled according to availability.
Lake Titicaca tours from Puno
From Puno, the tours to Lake Titicaca include visits to the floating islands. There are three that are the most visited daily by tourists.
Set of floating islands built with totora that rest on the crystalline waters of the lake. A place inhabited by settlers of Aymara origin, considered one of the oldest Andean civilizations, because they developed long before the Incas. A citadel on water that has 40 interconnected islands that have houses, schools and churches. And with a population that sustains its economy through activities such as fishing, crafts, tourism and bartering.
Known worldwide for its textile works, this island inhabited by Quechua speakers is characterized by hospitality that bridles its visitors, who experience an experiential or rural tourism staying in their homes and learn more about the community. In addition, it is a perfect destination for adventure tourism, traveling the 567 steps before reaching the highest part of the island.
Located three hours by boat from the city of Puno, this island is considered the largest of Lake Titicaca. It is known as the "island of love", due to its majestic fields, huge eucalyptus trees and beautiful flowers like the cantuta. A virgin town where the inhabitants and travelers move from one place to another walking, allowing experiencing an experiential tourism.
What to wear Lake Titicaca?
For the city of Puno, it is necessary to have warm clothes (during the afternoon, night and early morning) and light clothes (during the day). It is very important to always have caps or sunscreen, since in Puno solar radiation is very high compared to other regions of Peru.
The kayak in Lake Titicaca presents different difficulties, depending on the distances that are crossed. For example, if you intend to go kayaking to the islands that are on the lake, usually the companies that rent or offer kayak equipment, usually offer the service of safety boats to accompany the tour.
Although no previous experience is required to practice this sport in the lake, if it is suggested, have enough resistance, since there are areas in the lake, especially if you want to go to the islands, where the wind blows with such force that there is To row with greater zeal to avoid overturning, remember that the waters of this lake in the highlands are considerably cold. The best season to visit this lake, is between the months of April to November.