Lake Titicaca is one of the most spectacular high-altitude lake in the world.

Where is Lake Titicaca?

This famous natural attraction straddles the border between two countries – Peru and Bolivia. It is located at the very southeastern border of Peru and just 50 km west of Bolivia's capital city LaPaz. It lays mid-way from a geographical land perspective, from north to south, in the impressively long South American Andes Mountain Range ('Cordillera de Los Andes'), and at about 200 km from the Pacific Ocean.

The largest lake in South America

The lake is one of South America's largest by virtue of its volume. It is also 3,812 meters above sea level, making it one of the world's highest navigable lakes. The turquoise waters are cold (some may even say icy), but this does not detract from the lake's natural beauty.

Lake Titicaca covers some 3,305 square miles and is fed by quite many sources, chief of which are the Rivers Coata, Huancane, Ramis, Suchez, and Ilave, as well as some smaller rivers. Other sources include water from glaciers and rainfall. Lake Titicaca has two sub-basins – the Lago Grande (or Lago Chuchuito) and the smaller Lago Huiñaimarca (also called Lago Pequeño). The Tiquina Strait connects these basins. The lake is quite striking – the combination of brown and red-colored hills and the iridescent blue of the waters reflecting the clear sunlight is such an entrancing sight.

Lake Titicaca Islands

Some Islas Flotantes de los Urus.
Some Islas Flotantes de los Urus. [CC] credit.

The lake is also home to 41 islands called Uros – floating artificial islands made up of reeds called totora. The reeds are an intrinsic part of local culture, as these are used to build boats, huts and handicrafts. Aside from this, the people make a living by raising alpaca or llama, fishing and growing potatoes.

Some of the islands in Lake Titicaca are densely populated. Other islands of interest include Amantani, Taquile and Isla del Sol. Amantani is home to native Quechua speakers and features two mountain tops – Pachamama and Pachatata. You can also find some ruins on its hillsides. What's interesting about Amantani are the nightly cultural shows they provide for tourists, where the visitors can dress in traditional clothes and join in the dancing. Taquile is another fascinating island, as it used to be a prison during Spanish Colonial times. It is also known for its colorful hand-woven traditional textiles as well as pre-Inca ruins. Taquile also has quaint squares and an overall relaxing and gorgeous scenery. The city of Puno also features cave paintings.

Cultural Attractions

Colorfully dressed women by Lake Titicaca.
Colorfully dressed women by Lake Titicaca. [CC] credit.

Lake Titicaca is also host to a vibrant cultural scene, which the locals remain loyal to. For many years, the Spanish conquistadors campaigned to erase Pre-Inca and Incan cultures. Fortunately for us, they successfully resisted these advances so that we can now enjoy the culture that they have to offer. Be caught in the tapestry of rich colors, traditional dances (up to 300 kinds) and annual festivals. The most popular of the dances is the Devil Dance, where dancers outdo each other in dancing their fiercest while wearing grotesque masks. One particular festival of interest is the Puno week, celebrated in the city of Puno (of course). This festival celebrates the Sun God giving birth to Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, siblings who became the first Inca man and woman. It is further said that the two went on and established the Inca Empire.

Visiting the lake's region

When visiting the region around Lake Titicaca, be armed with warm clothes as the weather only has two temperatures – chilly and dry and chilly and rainy. Although during the day, the sun can be quite extreme.