Lake Titicaca Facts

History:

The Inca civilization considered Lake Titicaca a sacred place, as Incan mythology says that Manco Capac, the first Incan king, was born here. According to Incan mythology, this is the place where the world was created, when the god Viracocha came out of the lake and created the sun, moon, stars and people. You will find many places to see and discover on the shores of Lake Titicaca, as well as on the many islands that exist in this lake.

On the Bolivian side of the lake you will find the fascinating small town of Challapampa, home of the famous labyrinth, Chinkana. Also there you can find the biggest island in the lake, Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun). While there are no roads on the island, which means it’s not tourism friendly, there are 180 ruins from the Incan period, which make it worth a visit.

The surrounding villages are still home to Quechua-speaking descendants of the Incan empire. Many archaeological digs around the region have unearthed artifacts such as silver llamas, shell figurines and intricately decorated ceramics. The ruins of a pre-Incan ancient temple were discovered in the depths of the lake in the year 2000.

Geography:

Lake Titicaca is divided into two sub-basins in the high Andes mountains and is fed by both melting glacier water and rainwater. Titicaca reaches depths of up to 922 feet and contains 41 islands. The largest island, Isla del Sol, is in the southern part of Lake Titicaca. It is a destination of choice for sunset watchers.

Climate:

The climate in Puno is cold and dry. The high altitude contributes to these conditions, and travelers may experience some symptoms of altitude sickness upon first arriving. The average temperature hovers around 8.4°C. Temperatures can drop as low as 3°C in the winter months from June to August. The maximum temperature here is around 15.5°C in the summer months. Precipitation is minimal most of the year, but it has been known to rain or snow on occasion.

Lake titicaca boats

Around Lake Titicaca

You will find many interesting sites and ruins around Lake Titicaca and the town of Puno.

The ancient Sillustani Burial Towers of Puno are situated 34 km north of Puno. This is one of the world’s most important necropolises. At over 4000 m above sea level you will find cylinder-shaped burial towers.

Juliaca is a town close to the lake. It hosts the region’s main airport, but the city is worth visiting because of its architecture, including Iglesia de Santiago Apostol, Museo Kampac, and Museo Lítico Pucará.

Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru, in the Southern Coastal region. There are many attractions worth visiting, like Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Colca Canyon, and Plaza de Armas. It is situated a bit over 300 km from Puno.

Colca Canyon is one of the deepest canyons in the world, twice as deep as the famous Grand Canyon. It is truly a beautiful and unique natural wonder and very colorful; here you will find untouched nature.

Lake Ttiticaca map

Lake Titicaca Fact 1: Height

Do you know the height of Lake Titicaca?

It is around 3,180 m above sea level. Even though it is very high, the lake is navigable. It is located in the Andes Mountains.

Lake Titicaca Fact 2: The largest lake

In term of volume, Lake Titicaca is considered the largest lake in the world. The overall average depth is 107 m. The lake spreads over 8,300 square km in area (3,204 square miles).

Lake Titicaca Fact 3: The landscape

Lake Titicaca is notable around the world because of its beauty. When you come here, you will be amazed by the snow-covered peaks in the Andes Mountains, located around the lake.

Lake Titicaca Fact 4: A boat

If you want to enjoy a wonderful moment when visiting Lake Titicaca, take a boat ride. The boat is very unique because it is created from reeds which float on the water. The totora reeds which grow abundantly in the shallows of the lake are used to build boats, houses and the islands on which the inhabitants live.

Lake Titicaca Fact 5: A unique shape

Many people think that the shape of the lake reminds them of a puma chasing a rabbit.

Lake Titicaca Fact 6: Parts of the lake

There are two parts to the lake: a large part and a deep part. The first part of the lake is called Lago Grande, which means “Big Lake.” The smaller part is called Lago Pequeño, which means “Little Lake.”

Floating Islands

Lake Titicaca Fact 7: Owners of Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is owned by two countries. The eastern side belongs to Bolivia, which occupies 40 percent of the lake. The western side belongs to Peru, which occupies 60 percent of the lake.

Lake Titicaca Fact 8: Isla del Sol

In October 2013, one of the islands in Lake Titicaca located near Isla del Sol was used for an excavation. People found silver, gold, bone and ceramic in the area.

Lake Titicaca Fact 9: Tourism site
Lake Titicaca is one of the best tourism sites in the world. You can explore the area with family and friends. Don’t forget to enjoy the floating islands, such as Taguille, Amantani and Uros.

Lake Titicaca Fact 10: Isla del Sol

Isla del Sol is located on the Bolivian side near Copacabana. It is the best place for people who want to enjoy mystical and historical features. You can also enjoy rocky features on one of the large islands in Lake Titicaca. The islands in Lake Titicaca are home to pre-Incan, Incan and Spanish ruins.

Top Tourist Attractions

The Uros floating islands are man-made islands constructed out of reeds. The reeds grow and flow naturally on the banks of the lake. The people of Uros make islands out of them by constantly adding reeds to the surface. These islands often float on Lake Titicaca.

The Uros islands (there are more than 40 of them) are populated by hard-living people who survive by fishing and from the increasing number of tourists. Their handcrafts are wonderful, and the people themselves are very hospitable.

Taquile Island (Isla Taquile) is a very interesting island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Tourism is strictly controlled by island elders, who will direct you where to eat and where to sleep if you plan to stay there overnight. Accommodation is very cheap (about $3 per night).

You can get to Taquile from Puno for about $10, and there are daily cruises to the island. Usually these cruises stop on a floating island, so don’t miss this unique experience.

Especially important is the Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol). There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island. It is best reached from Copacabana, on the Bolivian side of the lake. Worth visiting on this island is the Gold Museum (Museo de Oro) and the Fountain of Youth.

View from Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Puno Town Centre is worth visiting during your trip. The small town has many beautiful places to visit, especially the baroque cathedral, built in 1757. Be aware that the climate is pretty cold during the nights, as the city is situated at over 3000 m altitude. The climate here is a tundra climate – the temperatures are very low all year round.

Amantani Island (Isla Amantani) is close to Taquile Island. It is much more traditional than the latter, and, just as in Taquile, the old people control the tourism. If you stay here overnight, you will enjoy the party that is organized there every evening. You will get traditional clothes, and local people will help you learn their traditional dance.

Festivals:

The most important festival in Puno city, on the shores of Lake Titicaca, is “la Candelaria”, a Catholic feast in honor of the Virgin Mary. It takes place in early February and lasts two weeks. On the first Sunday in February there is a contest of typical dances from the region, while on the following days big parades with special clothing designed for the feast flood the streets. The festivity is extraordinary due to the people’s joy and rich folklore.

Gastronomy:

The traditional dishes of the department of Puno are chairo, soup made with lamb, fricassee made with pork and hominy (which is best eaten with a very hot thimpo dish made of lamb carachi or fish), quinoa, eggs and cheese.

There are also many dishes based on fried cheese, lake fish, potatoes, carrots, spinach and beans. There are also tasty desserts, such as cheeses and honey.

Chairo – broth prepared using milled or crushed potato flour, or woolen lamb, potatoes, chopped vegetables and salt. Chairo is one of the most traditional and beloved soups.

Patacha – prepared from whole peeled barley, pork rinds, beans and peas. Served with potatoes, chopped mint, salt and pepper.

Head Soup – prepared by boiling the head of a lamb with potatoes and whole potato flour, then served with parsley and salt.

Cancacho – roasted pork or lamb macerated in hot pepper and oil, served with salads.

Fried Fish – fish cut into pieces and seasoned with garlic and salt, served with boiled potato, moraya, salad, chili and salt.

Covering some 8300 square kilometers, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America by volume of water and by surface area. The lake is located between Peru and Bolivia. Approximately 60 percent of the lake is in Peru and 40 percent is in Bolivia.

Titicaca is the ancestral land of the Quechuas, Aymaras, Uros, Pacajes and Puquinas. Lake Titicaca was the foundation of the most influential pre-Hispanic cultures of the Andean region. Many independent and ancient kingdoms grew out of the area beginning in the ninth century, though, interestingly, most of these kingdoms were ultimately rivals until the middle of the 15th century, when the Incas conquered the region, which they considered important because of its wool and meat production. Today, Puno continues its vast agricultural traditions as well as its ancestral rituals, such as offerings to Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth). These ancient customs are ever-present in the lives of the region’s inhabitants.

The National Reserve of Titicaca was established on October 31, 1978 with the purpose of preserving the native flora and fauna and the beauty of the area’s countryside. There are 60 species of birds, 14 species of fish and 18 species of amphibians in the National Reserve of Titicaca. One of the most famous of these is the giant frog, which can weigh up to 3 kg.

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