Why Lake Titicaca Is A Particular Place In South America


Lake Titicaca is positioned within the altiplano plateau, the most important plateau within the Andes, on the border of two stunning nations Peru (to the west) and Bolivia (to the east). After I arrived within the city of Puno, on the banks of Titicaca, I didn’t know the lake’s cultural historical past, its significance for the locals, and the mythology behind the origin of the lake.

Lake Titicaca one of many particular locations in South America

The indigenous communities of the 2 nations consider that Titicaca is the middle of creation. They are saying that God Viracocha created the solar, the moon, and the primary folks out of Titicaca. The god promised its kids that they may at all times be comfortable and secure in the event that they didn’t climb the mountains the place the sacred fireplace burned perpetually.

Panorama view of mountain Andes from Puno Lago

The legends inform that the satan was jealous of how the folks adhered to god’s guidelines. So the satan inspired them to defy God, climb the mountains, and get the everlasting fireplace. Seeing his kids developing the mountains, the god despatched ferocious pumas down the hills to chase the folks away. Then the indignant god flooded the mountains with tears. Within the course of, just one couple survived and the pumas drowned, too.

On the finish of all of it, there lay the lake, surrounded with stone pumas, statues of those that had died. The survival couple determined to name the place – Lake Titicaca – Lake of the Stone Pumas.

The lake’s earliest inhabitants go as again as 2nd millennia BC. Most Peruvians and Bolivians worry and revere Titicaca like their different gods. They consider that the holy spirits of the useless nonetheless dwell on the backside of the lake.

Peruvian & Bolivian Aspect

Whereas touring in South America for 9 months, I ended up exploring Lake Titicaca for a number of days from each the Peruvian and the Bolivian facet. I might really feel the power of the lake even whereas roaming round within the city of Puno. However it was solely after I walked to the shores of Titicaca I noticed how large the lake was. It’s about 280 meters deep and unfold over a floor space of 8,300 sq km (3200 sq. miles). Operating from northwest-to-southeast for 120 miles (190 km), Titicaca is the second largest lake in South America. It’s the largest freshwater lake on the earth.

Titicaca lake landscape view from Bolivia
Titicaca lake panorama view from Bolivia. Picture courtesy Shutterstock

From its banks, Titicaca seems and appears like an ocean. It’s mentioned that from above the lake seems like a puma looking a rabbit.

Crusing on the Lake Titicaca

You’ll expertise the true spirit of the lake if you sail on it in a tiny native wood boat. There are greater vessels and motorboats cruising the deep blue waters. However essentially the most significant and sustainable journey could be skilled by hiring an area, or fairly I say requesting one, to take you on a ship experience. Possibly for just a few hours, stopping by floating islands, or by accompanying them so far as their properties, which is what I did.

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My native information in Puno, who had already despatched me on a visit to Sillustani funeral towers of Inca, despatched me on a two-day tour to the islands of Uros, Taquile, and Amantani.

Locals at Uros islands
Locals at Uros islands

We traveled on the blue rippling water of Titicaca for 2 hours and arrived at one of many Uros islands. Right here the native guides have been ready for us with curious eyes. Just a few girls in massive straw hats and pink, yellow skirts stood on the sting of the island watching us.

Floating Island on Lake Titicaca

As they held our fingers to assist us soar from our boat onto their dwelling, I used to be already mesmerized. The place was I? First I used to be in Puno, this massive city the place rain fell all day lengthy, with a lot of vacationers and Chifa eating places. Now, I used to be on this large lake, on a golden, floating island. That at the beginning appeared like an enormous, hay raft.

Aerial view of floating islands Uros, Lake Titicaca
Aerial view of floating islands Uros. Picture courtesy Shutterstock

Thoughts you, we’re speaking about an altitude of three,800 meters above sea degree. That’s how excessive this lake is.

Maybe you should have seen floating islands off the coast in some obscure a part of the world. However these 60 islands of Uros are particular for they’re made out of Totora weed, an area and buoyant weed that grows within the water of Titicaca.

Visiting the Information’s Dwelling

A information prepared to point out us his dwelling smiled at me. He was sporting an everyday black trouser, and his white shirt had a pocket made out of the normal and colourful Peruvian fabric. He stood in entrance of us holding a hand-weaved mat. I noticed duck-shaped boats, red-orange-yellow huts, flying condor, and women and men in conventional rainbow garments busy in actions on this stunning fabric he held. I smiled, too.

Our information defined the varied scenes on the mat. All of us from completely different developed and growing components of the world listened, stupefied.

The guides informed us that Titicaca is taken into account the birthplace of the Incas. That the story of the Uros inhabitants goes again to the time when the Uru or the Uros folks migrated from Amazon. The locals didn’t allow them to dwell within the villages on the banks of the lake. Unhindered, the folks made floating islands out of the reed and sailed on the lake to dwell there.

Totora Islands

At this time, 1200 inhabitants dwell on the 60 Totora islands. Each fortnight, they gather contemporary weed and substitute the rotten weed on the backside of the island with the contemporary one.

That was the primary time somebody defined the importance of the lake. Nobody was speaking about these tales in Puno. There the folks have been busy promoting meals, operating hostels, telling vacationers that they are often their tour guides, speeding via the streets to be someplace, and sending their kids to highschool.

However on the island, the time had slowed down. Entertaining us, and possibly a number of different boats, gave the impression to be the principle activity of the day. Quickly, I realized that amassing reed, cooking, cleansing, washing garments, fishing, farming, and weaving didn’t go away the islanders with a lot free time.

Totora reed handmade boat on the lake
Totora reed handmade boat on the lake

On our proper facet, with the blue backdrop of the unfathomable lake and obscurely seen Andes mountains behind the lake, a girl sat on the reed ground – the island, the pavement, the roads, every little thing. She had a group of comparable hand-woven rugs unfold in entrance of her.

A fellow traveler from the US requested her costs utilizing the few Spanish numbers he knew. He informed me his Chinese language spouse would love a kind of stunning sheets and acquired the most important one.

Assembly the Locals

We spent a few hours on the island. After I bought uninterested in being a part of the group that our little group had created, I went to sit down subsequent to an area woman. She sporting a pink waist jacket and a blue skirt and was lingering on the facet by herself.

It was solely pure that she was shying away from us. It should really feel bizarre to host strangers with their very own opinions and judgments into your closest area every single day with none say. By now my Spanish was good. I had been on the continent for seven months. I informed her she regarded stunning. She smiled and mentioned gracias (thanks) in an accent unknown to me. Individuals there discuss each Spanish and Quechua, an historic Spanish dialect of the indigenous folks. Then she was cleansing utensils. I knelt down subsequent to her. Then she was within the hut, in her kitchen, largely quintessential dishes of copper and metal unfold round a mud range. I sat subsequent to her on the reed ground. I didn’t take any photos, it was her dwelling, in any case.

Connecting with native

Then once we got here out, she was extra amiable, much less shy, and we talked. She mentioned she preferred the islands. That they didn’t have that many individuals there. She did go to highschool however then it was a vacation. That they had a college on one of many islands. Many kin keep collectively on one island, and that’s the way it was.

I held her fingers in my fingers and felt the work her fingers had completed – the cooking, cleansing, rowing, reed assortment, weaving, spice grounding. When the information known as me again to the boat to depart for the Taquile island, the woman and I hugged and kissed sidewise on the cheeks, the way in which I had realized to do in South America.

Taquile Island

After an hour’s experience, we have been on Taquile island. It’s a inexperienced piece of land amidst an enormous blue pool. We bought down on one finish of the island and huffed and puffed on the uphill stone-paved path. We have been at a top of 4000 meters in any case. Quickly, I arrived at a vista, from the place I noticed a big stone hut and an enormous out of doors desk the place all of the guides and the vacationers who had walked forward of me have been getting collectively.

In these deeper components of the lake, there have been no waves however the lake rippled continuous.

The information from Taquile stood on the sting of the restaurant, with the deep cerulean lake behind him. Instructed us that their 2000-people group had ensured their island didn’t turn out to be too touristy. That’s why they didn’t permit evening stays.

UNESCO acknowledged Knitting Artwork

Taquile Island, occupied since 1970, is understood for its male weavers world wide. He gave us a brief demonstration of their UNESCO acknowledged knitting artwork, defined that males weave and ladies make yarn. They additional sustained their dwelling by promoting their handicrafts, and by farming and fishing.

Quickly he introduced lunch. All of us gorged on trout fished from the lake, rice, and potatoes.

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Island of Amantani

From there we went to the island of Amantani the place we have been to remain for the evening. The island was pretty small, about 9 sq. kilometers in measurement. Quickly on arrival, we have been taken to hike the Pachamama hill.

Pachamama landscape view from Amantani island, Lake Titicaca
Pachamama panorama view from Amantani island

Many of the 4000 islanders adopted previous traditions and spoke Quechua. They referred to the mom earth as Pachamama and prayed to her for his or her well-being and security. As water holds a particular symbolism within the Andean world and this lake is much more particular for its legendary origin. The Pachamama temple in the course of the lake was very revered amongst the locals.

Pachamama Hill

We hiked up the Pachamama hill slowly on a stone-paved path. On the peak, devotees circled the temple just a few instances and provided flowers, rice, potatoes, coca leaves. The temples of Pachamama could be discovered in lots of different components of Peru and Chile, too.

The panoramic view from the highest of the hill was attractive, to say the least.

Subsequent, we have been taken to our homestay by an area girl. She was wearing an extended black coloured skirt and wore a black scarf over her head. The black was complemented by her extraordinarily brilliant and colourful hand-woven shirt filled with pink and blue flowers. The island didn’t have electrical energy. So we used lamps to eat dinner: a easy affair of rice, potatoes, and native greens.

Dance Celebration

Later our host girl informed us that there was an area dance celebration wherein we must always take part. So she dressed us up, me and two different vacationers, in conventional garments. Whereas the garments of the boys have been easy: plain black trousers, a white shirt, with a colourful poncho. I wore the identical gown as hers: an extended skirt with a lovely broad belt tied in a peculiar approach, a colourful shirt, and the scarf hanging from my head.

Then we adopted her, as she made her approach via the island with a lamp and entered an enormous corridor the place an area group performed music and sang island songs. We danced for just a few hours. I solely stopped when my skirt untied by itself and our host tied it again for me laughing all of the whereas. She guided us again and we slept below the celebs.

They mentioned that photo voltaic panels have been quickly to be put in of their properties.

Strolling across the Islands

A day stroll is a should on this island. Simply get out of the abode home, take any mud path. You will notice that terrace farming is finished on all of the hills of the island. Individuals develop potatoes, wheat, quinoa, corn, and different greens. Fats sheep dot the hills.

The keep was stunning and we have been comfortable that our cash was paid on to the homestay. However the tour nonetheless felt a bit touristy to me. So after getting back from the tour, my good friend and I searched the map of Titicaca, discovered one other distant island. A tiny triangular dot on the large lake, and requested our favourite tour information if we might go there. She informed us that her cousin lived on that island.

The subsequent day, we have been seated in a petite boat and have been taken from the shores of Puno to a distant island by a woman who lived on the island. We stayed at her home for 2 days. Walked across the countryside freely. Joined the household for a visit to a different island the place they left their cow to graze and ate native home-grown quinoa and potatoes.

42 Islands on Lake Titicaca

There are 42 islands on the lake unfold amongst Peru and Bolivia. So a accountable strategy to discover the islands might be to ask the native information or homestay folks for an island far off on the lake the place a household could be beneficiant sufficient to host the traveler. Thus the native lifetime of Titicaca might be skilled from up shut in a pure approach.

The lake can be visited simply from the city of Copacabana on the Bolivia facet. Copacabana’s most sought-after journey to the lake is to Isla del Sol – the island of the solar. It’s recognized to be the birthplace of the solar and moon as per Andean mythology. The South and North components of the islands have been preventing over tourism and accessibility points. So it may not be attainable to go there. However in a traditional state of affairs, boats go away from Copacabana to Isla del Sol every single day at Eight AM and 1 PM.

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Copacabana, the sister city of Puno, is in itself a very good place to dwell and see the life across the lake. Oh, the sunsets on the lake shouldn’t be missed.

This lake is without doubt one of the most particular locations in South America. Not only for its distinctive geography or its historic tradition or the wealthy mythology, it’s particular as a result of, amidst the formidable heights and the omnipresent deep water, folks have nonetheless made the lake their dwelling. Making islands out of weed, weaving, farming potatoes at 4000-meter top, and dancing below the celebs.

Do go to the lake in case you get an opportunity.

What’s your most particular place on the earth? Inform us.


Writer’s Bio:

Author Priyanka

Priyanka Gupta is an itinerant author from India who left her funding banking profession to journey the world and write. She focuses on culturally immersive, offbeat journey. Whereas relishing native delicacies and by no means misses an opportunity to see wildlife. Priyanka at all times seems out for sustainable and local-community pushed experiences.

Priyanka reads, writes, and blogs full-time. In her free time, she could be discovered operating, serving to different vacationers be taught fundamental Spanish phrases wanted to outlive in attractive South America, or cooking the Burmese Mohinga.

You possibly can learn Priyanka’s finest concepts and journey tales on her private development and journey weblog On My Canvas.

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