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Lake Titicaca

Cradle of Inca Culture

Lake Titicaca is the cultural birthplace of Inca civilization. Legend tells that the sun sent his son, Manco Capac, and the moon sent her daughter, Mama Ocllo, to emerge here and found the Inca Empire.

Lake Titicaca, South America's largest lake, straddles the border of Peru and Bolivia at 12,500 feet above sea level. At this altitude, the water and air are remarkably clear. Titicaca is part of an endorheic basin; it collects and retains rain and melt-water, but allows virtually no outflow. The lake is fed by five major river systems and the shimmering glaciers that surround the Altiplano. Lake levels were lower in former times; a temple, terraces, walls and roads have been found below the surface.

Titicaca has 41 natural islands, and countless floating islets. The Uros people, who live offshore near Puno, build floating islands and boats out of cut totora reed. When a couple marries, part of the parents' island may be cut off and presented as a wedding gift. The residents of Taquile Island, also near Puno, have maintained their traditional lifestyles and dress. Their highly-prized, back-loomed textiles can be purchased at the island's cooperative store.

On the Bolivian side of the lake, Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna played important roles in the Inca creation drama. Isla del Sol has over 180 ruins, while Isla de la Luna is the site of an Inca convent for Virgins of the Sun. Other important sites on the Bolivian side include the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana—the shrine of the Virgin of Copacabana, a revered image of the Blessed Virgin—and, a few miles from the lake's eastern shore, the archeological complex of Tiwanaku.

In the last decade, several high-quality hotels have opened around Lake Titicaca. One is located on the privately-owned Suasi island, where relaxing days are crowned by breathtaking sunsets and brilliant stars.

The Lake Titicaca region can be reached by air (flights to Juliaca or La Paz), by train, and by road. The climate is consistently cool and clear year-round.

Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Peru and throughout South America. We organize luxury accommodation, private transportation, and tours with expert guides. Speak with a Mosaico travel planner today at 801.582.2100. We’ll take care of the details.

"I can't think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything."


Bill Bryson