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Lake Titicaca
Travel Guide


Plan for Lake Titicaca with Local Expertise

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Lake Titicaca at a glance

Lake Titicaca is surely one of the most captivating destinations in South America, and for many it’s an explorer’s gateway to get from Machu Picchu to Bolivia, or vice versa. This deep and mysterious body of water straddles the border between Bolivia and Peru, and there are countless unique settlements and villages to be explored on either side. One of the earth’s 20 ancient lakes, Lake Titicaca is situated in the Andean altiplano, or high plain, and is known for its still blue waters that reflect an equally still blue sky above. Journey across the lake’s calm surface to the famous Floating Islands of Uros, a collection of small man-made islands, made by layering beds of the thick and buoyant reed totora, which grows locally in abundance on the shores of the lake, on top of each other. This is the largest lake in South America and its surroundings and islands have been inhabited by dwellers since before the Inca. One of the earth’s 20 ancient lakes, Lake Titicaca is situated in the Andean altiplano, or high plain, and in local Andean culture, it is the birthplace of the sun. Pre-Inca Pukara, Tiwanaku and Collas cultures are all part of Lake Titicaca’s legacy, and you can visit some small Inca ruins that are lesser known to tourists.

Experiences around Lake Titicaca

What not to miss

Most trips to Lake Titicaca will begin on the Peruvian side to see the Floating Islands of Uros, a collection of small man-made islands that were constructed by the native Uros people who are thought to have first come from the Amazon. Spend a night on the islands with one of the local families for a more authentic Lake Titicaca experience. Set sail upon the tranquil waters of the world’s highest navigable lake, a deep and mysterious body of water that straddles the border between Bolivia and Peru. Crossing over Lake Titicaca to explore Bolivia can be done by taking a catamaran across from Peru to the Bolivian town of Copacabana, this buzzing little town has plenty of places to eat, sleep and drink, and is surprisingly lively for somewhere so remote. Soak up the sun on the shores of the lake while sipping on a cocktail from one of the local bars. On the boat ride across the lake to the famous Isla del Sol, a must-visit stop on your journey to this Andean lake. The island is unlike anywhere you have been before, with sporadic huts, villas and hostels dotted around the hills that are grazed by sheep and other native animals. Try the local trucha, or trout, that is caught in the lake, and explore the island at a leisurely pace, as the altitude won’t let you go too fast.

The Floating Islands of the Uros Top

You will be picked up from your hotel around 7.30 am and transferred to the port so you can board a fast boat that will take you to Taquile island. Only 12 minutes later,  you will arrive at the floating islands, inhabited by the legendary Uros, fishermen who have made the use of totora reeds a way of life. Then, after a pleasant boat ride of 1 hour and 10 minutes you will arrive at Taquile Island, where slowly you’ll ascend to the town on a gentle hike that takes about 50-minutes. There, you’ll observe a native community that maintains their ancestral ways. They are famously known to be skilled weavers. After that, you´ll go down to the west side of the island on a stairway enjoying  spectacular views of the lake. Finally you’ll take a 1 hour and 10 minutes boat ride back to Puno, just sit back, relax and take a time to take it all in.

Lake Crossing to explore Tiawanaco Top

You’ll be picked up from your hotel at 7 am and transferred by bus to the Bolivian border, where you’ll begin a journey into the fascinating past of one of the greatest Andean civilizations. Tiahuanaco is considered the genesis of Andean Culture. Enjoy a guided visit to observe its temples and impressive megalithic constructions, some blocks weighing over 100 tons. You´ll also have the chance to visit the museum to observe outstanding gigantic monoliths and sculptures. After that at Chucuito you’ll visit the Temple of Fertility to later head back to Puno at approximately 18:00pm.

Titicaca Kayaking Luquina Island Top

This great adventure begins at 6:30 am with a transfer from your hotel to the port so you can board a motor boat. After 25 minutes you will arrive at the floating islands, inhabited by the legendary Uros, fishermen who have made the use of totora reeds a way of life. Then, after a pleasant boat ride of 2 hours you will arrive to Luquina, a traditional Aymaran community that holds a spectacular location with terrific Lake Titicaca views. Here you will meet your certified kayak guide, who will give you a safety briefing, basic paddling instructions and help you to get on properly the kayak gear, flotation device etc. No previous experience required, but a good physical condition is a plus. At 10.30 am you will start paddling towards the tip of the Peninsula of Chucuito and see how the great Lake Titicaca opens endlessly, you´ll enjoy amazing views of the high Bolivian snow caped mountains at the other side of the lake. You continue paddling and at 11.30 am. you´ll reach a pristine sandy beach located at the Karina community, a truly  off the beaten path destination in Perú. Have a deserved rest and enjoy the spectacular views. Then you start paddling back to the base camp at Luquina, where the local families will welcome you with some hot drinks and lunch, and you can share a cross-cultural experience with them while enjoying a delicious typical lunch. Finally you’ll take a 2 hours boat ride back to Puno arriving at 5 pm approximately.

Titicaca Cultural Express Taquile, Llachon & Uros Top

You will be picked up from your hotel at 7 am and will be transfered to the port tfor your boat trip to Taquile Island. After approximately 2 hours, you will arrive at the pristine sandy beach on Taquile Island – enjoy it! Then you walk over a pre Incan pathway with the most spectacular views of the island, and continue with a visit to a traditional house of weavers where  you´ll learn all about their ancient culture and textile techniques. After 3 hours of cultural exploration leave to Llachon-Santa Maria.  Immerse in an intensive cross cultural experience when you participate in the preparation of the Pachamanca, a traditional way of cooking using underground ovens, and partake in a small ritual to honor mother earth. Say good bye to the community and board the boat leaves after lunch to Uros Titino islands, where you will see the last authentic floating island. Then, at approximately 4 pm, return to Puno and to your hotel. Note: a short trip around the floating island by a reed boat, available at an extra cost and payable directly at Uros Islands.

Titicaca Culture Tour by Catamaran Top

Take an early land transfer to Copacabana Sanctuary, board the Catamaran Cruise Ship, and enjoy a snack on board while sailing to Sun Island, the legendary birthplace of the Inca Empire. Visit the Inca Garden, steps and fountain followed by the Inti Wata Cultural Complex including the Ekako Underground Museum, the traditional medicine and the Titikaka Reed Shipbuilders display centers, the Pachamama agricultural Inca terraces, a handicraft center, the Intica lounge and at the Manco Kapac look out. Also, the Inti Wata Complex at Sun Island includes a unique sailing experience aboard a huge Titikaka traditional vessel for a panoramic visit to the Pilkokaina Inca Palace before returning to your hotel in La Paz.

Titicaca Scenery Tour by Catamaran Top

Discover the natural splendor of the world´s highest lake on a full-day catamaran cruise from Puno. Cross the Bolivian border to board a stylish boat and sail upon the shimmering surface of the sacred Lake Titicaca. Venture to the visionary Island of Sun to admire spectacular scenery and ancient Incan ruins then feast upon a delicious lunch of regionally inspired recipes aboard the catamaran. Experience the majesty of Lake Titcaca in a relaxed and rejuvenating manner on this tranquil tour. Transfer to your hotel in La Paz.

Titicaca Cultural Overnight Top

On day 1, you´ll be picked up 7:30 am for a boat trip that will take you to Uros floating islands and Llachon where you´ll have a traditional lunch. Meet the locals and observe their activities, take an afternoon walk to local ruins and watch sunset. You´ll have dinner and spend the nigh amongst the locals (beds, linen and electricity provided). If you wish you can buy presents like balloons, pens, paper, toothbrush/paste, matches, soap and shampoo which will be highly appreciated. During day 2, you´ll leave Llachon  ancd continue to Taquile and Puno. After breakfast, take a 1 hour motor boat ride to Taquile island, hike up to the village for about 1 hour and visit the crafts cooperative. Stop for a minute and observe the locals, guardians of an ancient culture and expert weavers. After lunch descend to the port to return to Puno.

Fast Facts on Lake Titicaca

USEFUL TRAVELER INFORMATION

This section is a quick overview to help in planning your trip to Lake Titicaca.

When to go

Due to the high altitude of Puno and Lake Titicaca, the weather is generally clear and sunny during the day but very cold at night, as is typical of the altiplano. The best time to visit Puno is between May and October when the rainfall is minimal and the nights are not as cold as at other times of the year. If you are planning on exploring more of Lake Titicaca, it is best to go either in November or in February. The weather is mildest during these months, and the lake can be explored at your leisure. If you want to experience some local culture, head for Lake Titicaca and Puno in late January/early February for the festival of the Virgin of Candelaria, a colourful folkloric festival, or in November, when the Diablada Festival celebrates Inca customs and leaders. Copacabana host three three major festivals throughout the year, the biggest ones being the Day of Independence in the first week of August and the Fiesta de la Virgen de Copacabana at the beginning of February.

How to get there

Puno is serviced by Manco Capac Airport, which is located 27 miles (44 km) to the north in the city of Juliaca. This airport receives flights from Lima, Cusco and Arequipa, as well as several other Latin American countries. There is also a scenic, yet somewhat archaic and very slow, rail service from Cusco called the Andean Explorer. Getting around the lake is usually done by ferry and boat, and we can organise the transfers for you as part of your itinerary, just speak to one of our travel advisors. Unlike the Peruvian side of the lake, the Bolivian side does not have an airport, and so is accessed by bus. Buses arrive from La Paz regularly and take about four hours, but only arrive during the day as there is a lake crossing involved at one section and this cannot be undertaken at night. Ferries operate from Copacabana to the Isla del Sol and take about two hours. When you get to the island, take your time moving around, as the altitude can prove challenging for some people and can make them breathless quickly. The only way to get around the island is on foot.

Infrastructure

Lake Titicaca (Puno, Peru) – Accommodations in the Lake Titicaca and Puno area vary from the basic to the luxury, but as this area is popular, space in hotels and B&Bs can be limited, so make sure to advise us of your travel goals in advance and we can book lodgings for you. Puno has plenty of restaurants to suit every traveler, but be warned that eating at this altitude can take more time than usual, so settle in for a long lunch or dinner. Public transport in Puno is an efficient way to explore the city, or taxis can be used, but make sure and fix a price before getting in the car. Transfers to the Floating Islands are by boat and should only be undertaken through reputable agencies or tour companies. We can arrange these for you as part of your itinerary, so just ask us.

 

Lake Titicaca (Copcacabana, Bolivia) – There are numerous places to eat and drink in Copacabana, but you must try the locally caught trout during your stay. Trout is on the menu in all of the restaurant in the village and around the lake, as well as served from the street vendors and food trucks that can be found everywhere. Accommodations in Copacabana vary, but there are B&Bs and mid-range hotels that provide comfortable lodgings. This is not the case on the Isla del Sol, where many of the lodgings are basic and rustic, but there are some luxury guest houses with incredible views out over the lake for those who have money to spend. Copacabana has ATMs and WiFi, but even here it is patchy, and non-existant on the Isla del Sol, so take advantage of plugging out for a day or two while on the island.

Tour Packages connections with Lake Titicaca

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