Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, serving as a natural border between Peru and Bolivia. With placid alpine waters, stunning views of both countries, and ancient indigenous communities, it’s a terrific place to explore. Whether you travel by sea kayak or speedboat, views of distant snow-capped mountains orient you, and the gentle sounds of the water accompany your adventure.
Several colorful, indigenous communities live on or around Lake Titicaca. The locals on Taquile Island, or Taquileños, were named “Masters of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO, and are famous for their handwoven textiles. You are welcomed by this community with open arms, and invited to learn about their unique way of life. Unlike most places in South America, Taquile Island’s men do all of the knitting while the women take charge of the spinning of their textiles. Watch locals ply their trade, and then explore this roadless landscape by foot on a guided tour.
The floating islands of the Uru are special as well, constructed from tortora reeds and maintained to preserve their traditional way of life. You will arrive at the floating Uros Island by speedboat, and learn about the Uru community that maintains and occupies this architectural wonder. To get to know the Uru people is to understand their reverence for totora reeds, which they use to construct their floating islands and boats. They also rely on totora for medicine, nourishment, and bartering currency.
Lake Titicaca is widely known as the highest navigable lake in the world. At 12,507 feet up, it’s located right in the middle of the Andes mountain range and is the border between Peru and Bolivia. With over 3000 miles of surface area, Lake Titicaca has an average depth of 350 feet, and reaches over 900 feet deep in certain areas!
The islands of Lake Titicaca have one of the highest concentrations of ancient ruins in all of South America. Isla del Sol, or Sun Island, has over 180 ruin sites, including the birthplace of the Inca god of the sun. The pleasant waters and interesting geographic features make for great outdoor activities on the lake. Sea kayaking is a great way to experience Lake Titicaca, and hiking to the ruins and mountaintops of the islands allows you to enjoy the ethereal landscapes as well.
Flora and Fauna
The rugged altiplano, mountainous shorelines and islands, and massive body of water make for diverse wildlife and vegetation on Lake Titicaca. Keep an eye out for the giant Lake Titicaca frog, whose skin appears too large for its body, as well as wild guinea pigs, chinchillas, alpaca, and Andean fox. Lake Titicaca birds include the cormorant, Titicaca flightless grebe, and Chilean flamingo. There are 12 different kinds of aquatic plants in Lake Titicaca, including the totora.