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Top 10 Lake Titicaca Facts You Should Know

  |   Peru

You’ll quickly recognize Lake Titicaca from the mesmerizing photos: deep blue sky mimics the rich blue color of the waters below, fringed by yellow grass reeds that are used to construct the traditional boats and homes floating upon it. Stretching through the Andes Mountains of both Bolivia and Peru, it is the world’s highest navigable body of water and the largest lake (by volume) in all of South America, making it an iconic destination unlike anywhere else. A visit to this lake, claimed the “birthplace of the Incas”, is sure to include stunning nature, glimpses of how local indigenous peoples live, and visits to Inca ruins that continue to tell an enthralling story unique to the region.


Lake Titicaca (ph. Wanderlust by Laura Grier) 

Lake Titicaca (ph. Wanderlust by Laura Grier

10 Interesting Facts About Lake Titicaca


Wondering what makes the nature, history, people and culture of Lake Titicaca so unique and why you should visit? Here are 10 interesting facts that will convince you to add it to your travel list:


1. Local communities believe that the shape of the lake depicts that of a puma hunting the rabbit. Thus the name, Titicaca, comes from the word “Titi Khar’ka” meaning Rock of the Puma in Aymara (a local indigenous language). 


2. Lake Titicaca is called “The Birthplace of the Incas”, and “The Birthplace of the Sun”.  Incan mythology says that the first Inca king, Manco Capac, was born at Lake Titicaca. The Gods later created a wife for him and they began a tribe that later blossomed into the Inca Empire, making Lake Titicaca "The Birthplace of the Incas." An ancient Incan myth also tells the story of the God Viracocha coming out of the lake and creating the sun, the stars, and the first people.


Reed boat on Lake Titicaca (ph. Thomas Quine)

Reed boat on Lake Titicaca (ph. Thomas Quine)

3. The highest navigable body of water in the world, Lake Titicaca sits 3,800 meters above sea level.


4. Over forty islands are sprinkled throughout Lake Titicaca, hosting a mix of rolling hills, various populations and ancient ruins begging to be explored. A majority of them are inhabited, the largest of which is the Isla del Sol (island of the Sun) on the Bolivian side. On this one island alone you will find over 180 ancient Incan ruins.


5. In addition to Inca ruins found on the islands and shore of Lake Titicaca, a temple structure was recently found at the bottom of the lake. 


Lake Titicaca from Isla del Sol (ph. Anthony Lacoste)

Lake Titicaca from Isla del Sol (ph. Anthony Lacoste)

6. The deepest part of Lake Titicaca is 1,000 feet deep, and the highest point on the lake is on Isla del Sol at 13,400 feet above sea level. 


7. The ecology of Lake Titicaca may not get as much attention as that of the neighboring Amazon rainforest, but certainly deserves recognition. More than 530 aquatic species can be found in Lake Titicaca, as well as many species of water birds. Threatened species than can be found here include the enormous Titicaca water frog and the Titicaca grebe. Approximately 90% of the fish found in the basin are endemic species not found anywhere else. 


8. More than 25 rivers and many glaciers empty into Lake Titicaca, but only one drains from it. This river is the Desaguadero, and it only drains 5% of incoming water (the other 95% is lost through evaporation).


Lake Titicaca culture

9. Before the Incas, three other peoples resided at Lake Titicaca and left their marks on the culture: the Pukara, Tiwanaku and Collas.


10. The Uru people, descendants of a much more ancient culture, continue to live on Lake Titicaca on floating islands. These islands, along with their homes and boats, are made entirely of reeds that grow along the shore of the water. 


Serene, sacred, and steeped in rich cultures past and present, the beautiful Lake Titicaca is easily one of South America’s most beautiful destinations. If you're impressed with these Top 10 Lake Titicaca Facts and would like to start planning your Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu tour,  or have any further questions, contact us today. 

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