Lake Titicaca

The high altitude and crystal-clear air combine for stunning panoramas during the day and at night the sky is jam-packed with stars horizon to horizon.

Sitting in this turquoise lake are islands inhabited by peoples with disparate cultures that today combine their pre-Inca heritage with Inca and Spanish influences. Fishermen living on islands made of reeds, farmers carving terraces in rock-covered hillsides and shepards herding flocks of llamas and alpacas – all consider the lake sacred and the source of life. Around the lake one can find signs of the past, from pre-Inca burial tombs to Spanish built cathedrals.

The flora and fauna is no less unique than the cultures found here. The tortora reed, a cat-tail type rush is used to build islands, buildings and boats. Llamas, alpacas and vicuñas are raised as food, beasts of burden and most importantly, for their fine wool used in textile weavings. One of the most unusual animals found here is the Lake Titicaca frog which is endemic to this seemingly hostile low temperature, high ultraviolet light environment. Its’ skin looks several sizes too large, thereby giving it a large enough surface area for the frog to take enough oxygen from the water to allow to stay submerged and protected. All of this makes for a unique travel destination.

Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, located at 3856 meters above sea level. Its shores and small islands are home to the Aymara and Quechua who come from ancient cultures that lived in this area long before the Incas dominate. Here visitors can explore traditional villages where Spanish is the second language and where ancient myths and beliefs persist even today. One of the peculiarities of Lake Titicaca are the small floating islands inhabited by a tribe called the Uros. In these small islands visitors are welcomed and can even ride in one of the famous reed boats.
Lake Titicaca has developed a reputation as one of South America’s top tourist attractions thanks to its riveting beauty and intriguing local culture. Haven to backpackers and eco-tourists, the mysterious waters of Lake Titicaca possess a certain allure that is hard to pinpoint but undeniably exists. There’s plenty to see and do around the shores and islands of this world-renowned body of water, so come prepared for an unforgettable experience.

Location

Lake Titicaca creates a natural border between Peru and Bolivia in South America. The lake sits at the northern end of the Altiplano Basin in the Andes Mountains, occupying areas in southeastern Peru and western Bolivia.

Measurements

Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America by volume of water. Lake Titicaca has a maximum length of 118 miles and a maximum width of 50 miles. The average depth of the lake is 351 feet, although some parts of the lake are over 900 feet deep.

History

Lake Titicaca boasts a rich cultural history that spans thousands of years. Incan mythology claims that Lake Titicaca was the site where civilization first began. It was here that the first Inca king, Manco Capac, is said to have been born of the sun god. The gods later created a wife for him, and together they founded a tribe that would eventually grow into the Inca Empire that dominated much of South America before the arrival of Europeans in colonial times. More than 180 ruins and monuments remain in the area as testaments to the architectural prowess and cultural beliefs of the ancient groups of indigenous people that inhabited the region long ago.


Chucuito

Chucuito is a small, rocky and fascinating city, located 20 minutes by car from Puno. It is a great alternative to the hustle and bustle of the city of Puno, it is also a city rich in history. Chucuito was the capital of the realm of traditional Aymara Lupaca (descendants of the Tiwanaku culture, before the Inca Empire) and until the arrival of the Spaniards was the domain of the Great Lord Lupaca, second personality of the Inca empire that commanded from Cuzco to Chile (Garci Diez, 1567). Chucuito in ancient times was the largest city after Cuzco and Lake Titicaca was called Lake Chucuito.

Chucuito was also a very important point for the colonization because it was the city of the royal treasure. In fact, during the colonial period there was a silver mine and the taxes of the whole area were kept in this place, hence the name Ciudad de las Cajas Reales.

On the origin of the name there are two versions. One says that the name comes from the Aymara word “Chuco” meaning “cloak or blanket” with the ending “ito” used to diminutives, then the translation would be “small pool”. The other version says that its origin comes from two Aymara words “Chuki” which means “gold” and “Witio” meaning “piece of land that stretches down to the river,” combining the two words the translation would be “the hill of gold”.

The town of Chucuito is one of the few Aymara communities that remain today and who has faithfully maintained the traditions of the ancient Aymara culture. It is a really nice town, where people can find peace, tranquility, cleanliness and a spectacular view of Lake Titicaca. Chucuito is also situated in a good position to visit many cities and natural attractions.

Attractions in Chucuito:

  • Inca Uyo Archaeological Center – Temple of Fertility
  • Temple of Santo Domingo
  • Church of Our Lady of Assumption
  • The Cross of Inquisition
  • Terrace overlooking La Glorieta
  • Clock Stone
  • Roll
  • The Mountain Atoja
  • Fish farming of trout

Holidays in Chucuito:

The main parties in Chucuito are managed directly by the community of Chucuito and for this reason they are very special and unique. There is no people of the plateau that has not its own dances that parents transmit to their children.

  • March 21 – Autumn Equinox
  • March and April – Easter
  • April 1 – Anniversary of the founding of the village of Chucuito
  • May 3 – Feast of the Cross
  • June 21 – Winter Solstice (Inti Raymi – Sun Festival) and Festival of Pachacuti
  • August 15 – Our Lady of the Assumption, with the realization of Huaccha
  • September 21 – Spring Equinox
  • October 12 – Our Lady of Rosary (a week of holiday)
  • December 6 – Fair Alacitas
  • December 21 – Summer Solstice

Points of Interest around Lake Titicaca

There are several primary points of interest around Lake Titicaca. First and foremost is the Isla del Sol, an island site with a slew of well-preserved ruins. It is here that Manco Capac was supposedly born. Nearby is the Isla de la Luna, home to a cluster of ruins once used as a convent for virgins of the Inca kings. Both of these islands are on the Bolivian side of the lake. Copacabana is a tourist-oriented town in Bolivia on the mainland that serves as the hub for excursions to these islands. On the Peruvian side of the lake sits Puno and 18 km away we are located in Chucuito. Puno is known as the capital of Peruvian folklore and features myriad tour companies that can provide you with transport to Los Uros, offshore floating islands constructed of reeds. The nearby islands of Taquile and Amantani have additional ruins and traditional villages that are also worth visiting.

We can organize for you:

  • Kayaking on the Lake Titicaca
  • Boat trips with traditional small Fisherboats
  • Sillustani
  • Cutimbo and Aquas Thermales
  • Aramu Muro
  • Uros, Taquile, Amantani