Navigable beauty in Bolivia and Peru
The Titicaca Lake
One of the last tendencies in tourism is also the place where a lot of the most beautiful pictures are taken. I’m talking about Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in all of South America. Also known as the highest body of navigable water in the world. But what makes a lake so special? Follow me in a journey and you’ll see.
Two countries through their Andes Mountains share Lake Titicaca: Bolivia and Peru. It sits 3800 meters above sea level, and the deepest part of the lake is 300 meters deep. Just imagine three blocks long of water, but in a vertical way. Around it there are green and yellow mountains. The water this lake contains comes from more than 25 rivers and glaciers, and only one river drains it out, the Desaguadero, but the lake contains so much water that the Desaguadero can barely drain almost 5% of the incoming water the lake takes from the other rivers.
Over forty islands compose the Titicaca area, and most of them are quite unexplored. Some populations live in several islands, but the surfaces are enormous, and lots of Incan ruins fulfill the amazing places that are still waiting to be explored and unveiled. The biggest one is called La Isla del Sol, which means the island of the sun in Spanish. It is located in the Bolivian side, and it is calculated there are more than 140 ruins in it.
If you are interested in animals, this place will amaze you. It is calculated that around 90% of the species that live here are endemic. What does endemic mean? It means that you won’t be able to find any of those species anywhere else in the world. More than 500 different species of fish, birds and amphibious live in the lake and make it unique every day. And some of them are in real danger of extinction, like the big Titicaca frog. Of course, if you compare the place with the Amazon rainforest, this is a quite smaller ecosystem, but Titicaca has a unique enchantment that will definitely impress you.
Lake Titicaca is known as “the birthplace of the Incas”, and also the “birthplace of the sun”. The first one refers to the legend in Incan mythology where Manco Capac, the first Incan king, was born in there. Later, the gods created him a wife, and then the Incas began. The second story is about the god Viracocha, who according to Incan mythology was born in the lake, and was responsible for the creation of the sun, the stars and the first people. The islands that compose the place are full of Incan ruins, and recently some of them were found at the bottom of the lake. No one knows how they got there.
This is for the curious people out there, who always like to learn new and interesting stuff: the origin of the name. Titicaca comes from the expression “Titi Khar’ka”, which stands for rock of the puma in Aymara, a local ancient language. This is because of the shape of the lake, that if you look at it from above, it draws a puma hunting a rabbit.
The Urus is a culture that descends from the most ancient culture that ever lived in there, and if you go now, they still habit most of the islands. In the area, lots of different people and cultures left their marks. The most famous one are the Incas, but before them there were the Pukara, the Collas and the Tiwanaku. Nowadays you’ll only be able to find the Uros, a group of humble people who build their boats and houses entirely of the reeds that grow at the shore of the lake. An interesting fact is that lots of the islands are literally floating in the lake, because their soils are made entirely of the reeds too, and if you jump up and down, you’ll get to see the water growing below your feet. Also, those islands can be moved, because they are floating, and the Uru’s families that share them usually move them to be closer to the other families that they choose to be close to. Also, you can only be in one of the Uru’s ceremonies if you are part of their community, and that only happens once you are married to one of them. This also works for them, if one of them is not married, that one is not considered as part of their society either. Like this, you’ll be able to learn a lot of different things from this amazing culture.
More reasons to visit
Here the people are quite friendly, so activities are unlimited. You can play football with them, buy handmade jewelry or even learn local dances and dance with them. Also, there are boats everywhere, so there will always be someone to take you somewhere interesting, like another island, some ruins or to their market so you buy them stuff. This is a place where you cannot forget to bring a nice camera, because the landscapes there are awesome. Just go and look for pictures in the Internet and then tell us. It is definitely not an expensive journey, and it is totally worth it.