When you see Lake Titicaca you can be forgiven for thinking someone has stuck a medium-size sea right in the middle of the Andes! It is massive, covering 8,000km² and is the highest navigable lake in the world, forming most of Peru’s border with Bolivia. Many people fit a visit to Lake Titicaca into their Peru holidays and it’s definitely a location you should consider trying to visit on your holiday in Peru
It is an incredibly tranquil place, and is home to some of the most ancient of the Peruvian peoples. Many speak Quechua (the language of the Incas) as a first language and maintain a very traditional way of life. The lake itself played a prominent part in Inca creation myths and there are many items of historical interest both in and around the lake!
The Uros are floating islands made entirely out of the reeds which go all round the lake. The largest have several hundred people living on them and one great thing to do on your holiday in Peru is to take a boat trip out to visit some of the smaller islands. The trip out to these remarkable homes amid the tranquility of the lake is definitely something to remember!
Of course, if you don’t fancy trusting to reeds, then a trip to Taquile and Amantani – two of the ‘real’ islands further out in the lake is perhaps a better idea! Both islands are absolutely beautiful and have a rich heritage of both Inca and pre-Inca ruins, and both have a famous tradition of handwoven textiles. For the more adventurous, it is also possible to stay overnight on either of these islands with a local family and sample some real Andean hospitality as part of your holiday in Peru.
The main town on the lake is Puno and this is most people’s base when visiting Lake Titicaca during their Peru holidays. It is a centre for traditional music and is a great place to buy llama and alpaca gear – much cheaper than in Cuzco or Lima! There is a large daily market in Puno and you can find it just by walking towards the lake from the town itself, along Avenida Los Incas. If you are arriving by train from Cusco, the very last stage of the journey actually goes through it!
There is also a great vantage point behind the town which you reach by following a path symbolising the stations of the cross. The views across the town and out over the lake are well worth the walk!
Outside Puno itself, there are several sites of interest within easy reach, of which the most important is Sillustani. This village has an astonishing congregation of Inca and pre-Inca funeral towers. It is still unclear exactly how they were constructed and they are defying archaeologists attempts to re-create them. There is a small museum at the site (although the exhibits and displays are all in Spanish) and the location is beautiful so if you find yourself with a few hours to spare then it’s definitely worth a trip. A taxi from Puno should cost about $25 and won’t take more than 45 minutes – a worthwhile addition to any holiday in Peru!
Lake Titicaca should definitely be on your Peru holiday checklist so make sure you don’t get carried away thinking about Cusco and Machu Picchu and forget about when you’re looking to book your Peru holidays this year!