Lake Titicaca – One of The Most Fascinating Lakes in The World.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca – One of The Most Fascinating Lakes in The World.

Lake Titicaca – One of The Most Fascinating Lakes in The World.

Lake Titicaca

Located between Bolivia and Peru, South America. Lake Titicaca is one of the most fascinating lakes in the world. It is situated at a very high altitude, at over 3800 meters above sea level, total area 58,000 km², length 180 km, width 80 km and a tour at Titicaca is definitely an unforgettable experience for any visitor. When visiting Lake Titicaca, the town of Puno is the best place to stay, on the Peruvian side of the lake.

The town of Puno is an interesting place to visit as it is the capital of folklore of Peru. It also has a beautiful old cathedral, and it is close to many attractions of Peru like the Macchu Picchu or the town of Cusco.

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

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

History of Lake Titicaca

In 2000, an international archaeological expedition discovered an ancient temple submerged in the depths of Lake Titicaca. The huge structure is nearly twice the size of a soccer field (660 feet long), and was found by following a submerged road that begins near Copacabana. The temple is estimated to be between 1,000 and 1,500 years old. The Bolivian government has pledged to provide funds for further study of the ruins, and the eventual plan is to bring the temple to the surface. However, locals are fearful about the effects that such disrespect of the sacred lake might bring.

According to Incan lore, after a great flood, the god Viracocha arose from Lake Titicaca to create the world. He commanded the sun (Inti), moon (Mama Kilya) and stars to rise, then went to Tiahuanaco to create the first human beings, Mallku Kapac and Mama Ocllo. These first humans, the “Inca Adam and Eve,” were formed from stone and brought to life by Viracocha, who commanded them to go out and populate the world. Thus Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the Incas, whose spirits return to their origin in the lake upon death.

What to See at Lake Titicaca

At 3,200 square miles in size and up to 1,000 feet in depth, Titicaca is one of the largest, highest, and deepest lakes in the world. Like Crater Lake in the USA (also a sacred lake), Lake Titicaca is renowned for its deep blue beauty.

In addition to Lake Titicaca itself, several of the 41 islands in the lake are regarded as sacred. Especially important is the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), located on the Bolivia side near Copacabana. The largest of all the lake islands (but still only 5.5 by 3.75 miles in size) , Isla del Sol was regarded as the home of the supreme Inca god Inti.

On the north end of the Island of the Sun is the town of Challapampa, home to the fascinating Chinkana (labyrinth). A huge stone complex full of mazes, it is thought be a training center for Inca priests. Unusually for the Incas, the construction is a bit sloppy—some archaeologists theorize that they must have been in a rush to build it. A natural spring here runs under the island and appears again in a sacred stone fountain in Yumani.

About 270 feet from Chinaka on the path back to the town of Challapampa is a sacred rock carved in the shape of a puma. Further along the path toward Challapampa are two very large footprints. These are said to have been created when the sun dropped down to earth to give birth to Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the “Adam and Eve” of the Incas.

On the south end of the Isla del Sol is Yumani, the largest town on the island and the site of the Inca steps. Here, 206 steps built by the Incas lead up into the town and to a sacred fountain. Made of stone and having three separate springs, it is said to be a fountain of youth.

Sunset on the Isla del Sol is magical and best appreciated from the lighthouse on the highest point on the island at 13,441 feet. The sun bathes the sacred mountains in bright colors, and reflects its light in the deep blue of the sacred lake, before sinking below the horizon.

The Island of the Moon (Isla de la Luna) is the legendary home of the Inca goddess Mama Quila. The structures on this island were originally built by the pre-Incan Aymara culture, but the Incas left their mark on the architecture as well (such as the typical trapezoidal doors). During Inca times, the Isla de la Luna housed chosen women known as the “Virgins of the Sun,” who lived a nun-like lifestyle. They wove garments from alpaca wool and performed ceremonies dedicated to the sun.

Also of interest are the Uros Islands or Floating Islands (Islas Flotantes), man-made islands of reeds in the Peru side of Lake Titicaca. They are home to the descendents of the ancient Uros culture (contemporary with the now-extinct Incas), who still live a simple, traditional life. Their religion is a mixture of traditional Indian and Catholic, and they bury their dead on the mainland.

Festivals and Events

There are two mountains on the islands, Paccha Mama (Mother Earth) and Paccha Tata (Father Earth), and both are sacred sites. Each year, on January 18, locals dressed in traditional clothes climb the two hills. The pilgrims descend each hill in two groups, then meet to offer coca leaves, grains and alcohol to the Earth.

How to Reach.

By Plane: 

Juliaca, a town located at 44 km distance from Puno, has a pretty well served airport. There are daily direct flights to Arequipa, Cusco and Lima. From Juliaca airport, you can either take taxis or buses to Puno. A taxi will usually cost $20, while buses cost $5 per person.


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