In a mystical equilibrium with the environment, Lake Titicaca shows its wide natural wealth. Its cold blue waters surround the city of Puno and show fantastic places that keep its history and tradition intact. This source of life and development seek, with tourism, to preserve its incredible culture and landscapes. In addition, the legend tells that this famous lake was born Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, founders of the Inca Empire.Titicaca is the highest and navigable lake in the world, this Natural Heritage of Peru is located in the Puno region and is shared with the neighboring country of Bolivia. The islands that inhabit this majestic place are Taquile, Amantaní and Uros, the same ones that maintain their pre-Columbian traditions and customs.
How to get?
The most common ways to access Lake Titicaca are through its closest cities: the city of Puno in Peru and the city of La Paz in Bolivia. In our country, you can fly to Juliaca airport or take a bus to Puno. The latter is one of the best ways to appreciate the undulating landscape and the panoramic views of the Andes region. From Lima to Puno, the bus trip lasts approximately 22 hours and the tickets go from 100 soles.
The climate of the region is dry and fresh. The best season to visit the lake is between the months of May and October, since the days are sunnier and the temperature changes are not so abrupt. At those dates, the average temperature is 25 ° C, although the nights are cold and can reach temperatures below 0 ° C, so it is recommended to use sunscreen for the face and lips, since the combination of dry climate and sunlight can mistreat the skin.
The Titicaca Lake Ecosystem:
Titicaca contains several species of flora, birds, fish and amphibians, some of them unique in their species, such as suche, carachi, pejerrey and boga. Among the birds, common species are ducks, flamingos, gulls, etc. Dozens of native species have also been registered as parihuanas, Andean geese, Titicaca gazelles, Chullumpis and Andean Lapwings, as well as some endangered species. In the reserve you will also find twelve varieties of aquatic plants representative of the flora of the lake, among which totora and algae stand out. The totora, plant with a flat and flexible axis, like a kind of tongue, stands out among the flora and is used as material to build handicrafts, houses and canoes. The latter are characteristics of the area, better known as "caballitos de totora".
What to see - Lake Titicaca from Puno:
- Floating Island of the Uros: Located 30 minutes by boat, from the shores of Lake Titicaca, the Uros are a floating island known for being built of totora, a reed that grows under these waters. Inhabited by Aymara, this place is considered one of the oldest Andean civilizations, having emerged long before the Incas. This area grows economically due to fishing, bartering and even their own crafts, also have extra income thanks to tourism. The inhabitants of the Uros live in a citadel made of totora and has 40 islands, which are accompanied by houses, churches and schools.
- Taquile Island: Taquile is known worldwide for its textile work. It is the perfect place to trek, having a ladder of 567 steps to be able to climb towards the top of the town. The island is inhabited by Quechua speakers who still make barter, an action that involves exchanging one product for another. However, agriculture, textile work and crafts are its main economic source. In Taquile you will not find any hotel, the residents are the ones who provide accommodation and food, learning with them more about rural or community tourism.
- Amantani Island: Known as the "island of love", Amantaní has majestic fields, eucalyptus trees and flowers like the cantuta that grows in the altiplano. This island is the largest of Lake Titicaca and is three hours by boat from the city of Puno. Being an isolated town, the inhabitants and travelers move from one place to another walking, since there is no means of transport such as motorcycle or taxi. In Amantaní, you will not find any hotel, the travelers sleep in the houses of the residents doing experiential tourism. 300 meters up, the Pachatata sanctuary is located, a space of stones from where the Pachamama or mother earth is worshiped.
- Archaeological Complex of Sillustani: Sillustani, was the largest cemetery in the ancient world, with impressive funerary monuments. This pre-Inca cemetery had huge chullpas in a circular shape that served as tombs for relatives of the Collas and Incas. These buildings were oriented to where the Sun rises, facing Lake Umayo at 4000 m a.s.l.
What to see - Lake Titicaca from La Paz:
- Suriqui Island: This island located in the smaller lake of the Titicaca Lake is a remarkable tourist point, from remote times, here totora rafts have been made, that allowed the Andean man to sail in the lake.Today, Suriqui is the main center for the construction of small wooden boats, in addition to totora, material from which decorative and utilitarian items inspired by the island's fauna are also manufactured.
- Island of Kalauta: This old stone town is the largest pre-Hispanic necropolis, with chullpas (mortuary towers) of two and three floors. You can share the traditional apthapi (native snack) with the locals and enjoy an unforgettable moment.
- Pariti Island: Pariti is located in the province of Los Andes, in the vicinity of Lake Titicaca.It was one of the most important ceremonial centers of the Tiwanacota culture, according to what could be established after reviewing the characteristics of more than a hundred pieces dating from 900 to 1050 AD.These pieces can be seen in the museum of the island.
- Copacabana: This important tourist center of Bolivia is located next to two twin hills that are introduced peacefully into the lake. The Copacabana was considered a sacred area, which is why archaeological remains scattered in it have been found. 200 m. is the temple of Intikala (stone of the Sun), with a series of seats sculpted in large stones that are known as the "Court of the Inca". ,On Kesanani hill (400 m from the town) is one of the most beautiful and ancient astronomical observatories in the world, known as "Gallow of Inca"; even today the equinoxes and solstices are recorded. The Kusijata House, located 2 km. To the north, it proposes to travel pre-Columbian roads and cultivation platforms, there is a vase sculpted in andesite stone (1.10 meters high) known as "Inca Baths" and a filtering gallery achieved in pre-Columbian times to obtain drinking water.
- Sun Island: Sacred island of the Incas. The constructions in the southern part are particularly notable. In Yumani stands out the stone building called Pilkokaina or Sun Palace, remains of what used to be the Inca's residence on this sacred island; At the end of them you have the opportunity to drink holy water from the fountain of "eternal youth". In Challapampa (to the north), there is the labyrinthine construction of the Chinkana, the sacred rock of 65 meters long by 7 high and irregular shapes, located in the highest part of the island. It is the place where it is said that Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo came out to found the Inca Empire.
- Island of the Moon: Koati or Moon Island is located southeast of Sun Island, opposite the small town of Sampaya. It houses the remains of an "Ajllawasi" or "house of the chosen virgins of the sun", a building with three wings, which surround a courtyard with ornate facades.
Lake Titicaca - Nature
To speak of Lake Titicaca is to enter a world full of mystery, myth, legends and charm. Not in vain that one is considered a Pacarina by the Andean world, which, in more common language, could be translated as a "Place of Origin" and therefore Sacred, space from which, according to the book of Inca Garcilaso de la Vega , it would have been the first couple of Incas that would form the powerful Tahuantinsuyo: Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. Outside the myth, Lake Titicaca is an important reservoir of water that has a total area of 8,562 square kilometers that reaches a maximum depth of 185 meters and in whose waters it is possible to find varieties of animals such as 18 types of snails; 22 types of mollusks, 29 varieties of fish, 21 types of amphibians and a variety of 28 species of birds, including an endemic species known as the Titicaca diver. In this lake it is possible to find different islands, 42 of which are natural and six are artificial, last that form the complex of the Uros Islands. Of the Titicaca Islands, the most visited are those of Amantaní and Taquile Island, famous for the conservation of several Andean rituals in their territory, which are carried out in pre-Inca ceremonial centers that are located on its perimeter.
- If you travel to the Taquile or Amantaní islands, remember that there are no hotels. You will have the option of staying in the house of the residents themselves.
- When you are in height, you should wear clothes that can shelter you.
- Do not forget to use a sunscreen, as the sun's shine can burn your face.
- The use of cocoa butter is very important, so that the lips do not dry out.
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