With its deep blue waters, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in Latin America and the world’s highest navigable lake at 3,830m. Enclosed by snow-capped peaks, often cloaked in an ethereal mist, it is an area of spectacular beauty and a true highlight of any trip to Peru.
As well as its stunning beauty, the indigenous population of Peru believe Lake Titicaca to be deeply spiritual. Legend has it that Lake Titicaca was the birth place of the sun, moon and stars, as well as the very beginning of the mighty Incan Empire. Packed with myths and legends, the lands around Lake Titicaca are packed with ancient culture that still live on today. Locals roam in colourful traditional dress and hold onto their traditions from a thousand years ago.
Straddling the border of Bolivia and Peru, the gateway to the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca is from the town of Puno: Peru’s folkloric centre and Altiplano capital. Revered for its array of vibrant festivals and dances, it lives up to its reputation. Puno is not so much of a destination itself, but with its great selection of hotels and restaurants and perched on the shoreline of Lake Titicaca, it serves as the perfect base from which to explore the area. From kayaking to hiking, cycling and staying with local communities there is plenty of ways to get under the skin of this magnetic region.
Scattered across the majestic waters of Lake Titicaca is a plethora of islands, which are home to an array of diverse cultures. The islands of Uros, Taquile and Amantani are some of the major attractions and provide a glimpse into how locals live by the lake and through the legends of the Inca Empire. The island of Uros is of particular curiosity as they are man-made entirely from tortora reed and ominously float in the water. The lives of the Uros people are intertwined with the tortora reed, using it for just about every purpose imaginable in order to survive on the lake. Everything from their houses, boats and even medicines are created using this amazing natural resource. The island of Taquile is scattered with archaeological ruins and is revered for its amazing textiles, which have been hailed as heritage masterpieces by UNESCO. Both Taquile and Amantani are home to Quechua speaking inhabitants, and have neither roads nor electricity, taking you back in time to when the Incan Empire thrived. It is possible to overnight on these islands and stay with a local family, which is the best way to immerse yourself in local traditions and gain a true understanding and life on Lake Titicaca.