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 from the waters and establish 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 Inca times; a temple, terraces, walls and roads have been found below the surface.
Titicaca has 41 natural islands, and countless floating islets. 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.
The principal town on the Bolivian side of the lake is Copacabana, famous for its 16th-century Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana—shrine of Bolivia's patron saint. This is the site of several annual festivals and pilgrimages: March / April Holy Week; Bolivian Independence Day (August 6th); Festival of the Cross (early May); and February's raucous Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria (parties, parades and bull ring bravado).
On the Peruvian side of the lake, the Uros people 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. Nearby, the residents of Taquile Island have maintained their traditional lifestyles and dress. Their highly-prized, back-loomed textiles can be purchased at the island's cooperative store.
In the last decade, several high-quality hotels have opened around Lake Titicaca, primarily on the Peruvian side. One is located on the privately-owned Suasi Island, where relaxing days are crowned by breathtaking sunsets and brilliant stars.
The Titicaca region can be reached by air (flights to Juliaca, Peru or La Paz, Bolivia), by train, and by road. The climate is consistently cool and clear year-round. The drive from La Paz to Copacabana takes about 2.5 hours.
Mosaico Travel Services arranges personalized travel in Bolivia 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.
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