Lake Titicaca

Titicaca: South America’s Largest Lake

Lake Titicaca is the cultural birthplace of Inca civilization.

According to local folklore, the sun sent his son, Manco Capac, and the moon sent her daughter, Mama Ocllo, to emerge here and found the Inca Empire.

Lake Titicaca, South America’s largest lake, straddles the border of Peru and Bolivia at 12,500 feet above sea level. At this altitude, the water and air are remarkably clear.

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Titicaca is part of an endorheic basin; it collects and retains rain and melt-water, but allows virtually no outflow. This lake is fed by five major river systems and the shimmering glaciers that surround the Altiplano.

Lake Titicaca’s levels were lower in former times—a temple, terraces, walls, and roads have been found below the surface.

Islands & Islets of Titicaca

Titicaca has 41 natural islands, in addition to countless floating islets. The Uros people, who live offshore near Puno, build floating islands and boats out of cut totora reed.

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When a couple marries, part of the parents’ island may be cut off and presented as a wedding gift.

The residents of Taquile Island, also near Puno, have maintained their traditional lifestyles and dress. Their highly-prized, back-loomed textiles can be purchased at the island’s cooperative store.

Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna

On the Bolivian side of the lake are Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna. Both played important roles in the Inca creation drama.

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Isla del Sol is home to over 180 ruins, while Isla de la Luna is the site of an Inca convent for Virgins of the Sun.

Another important site on the Bolivian side is the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana.

Also notable is the shrine of the Virgin of Copacabana, a revered image of the Blessed Virgin—and, a few miles from the lake’s eastern shore, the archeological complex of Tiwanaku.

Luxury Accommodations

Over the last decade, several high-quality hotels opened around Lake Titicaca.

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One is located on the privately-owned Suasi island, where relaxing days are crowned by breathtaking sunsets and brilliant stars.

Another rests on a private peninsula 45 minutes south of Puno.

There, visitors can explore the lake and surrounding communities away from the crowds.

Getting to Lake Titicaca

The Lake Titicaca region can be reached by air (flights to Juliaca or La Paz), by train from Cusco or Arequipa, and by road.

The climate is consistently cool and clear year-round.

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