Lake Titicaca, Peru - Stein Travel

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Welcome to Lake Titicaca

Regarded as the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,580 feet (3,825m), Lake Titicaca covers 3,861 square miles (10,000 sq km) and is shared by neighbouring Bolivia and Peru. It has clear water, numerous islands and most importantly a place in Inca history. To many Peruvians, it is a revered and mythical place: legend has it that the founders of the Inca Empire, descendants of the sun, rose from the waters of the lake to create the ancient civilisation. The Uros Indians today live on unique man-made floating islands in the lake, believing they are the direct descendants of the Inca royalty.

For centuries the Uros people have built their homes and made their boats from the abundant source of reeds that grow in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. The islands are made from many springy layers of reeds that are continually added to replace the rotting layers below and it is not uncommon for the islands to drift after heavy rains. Fisherman can be seen navigating the water channels in beautifully crafted, sturdy 'canoes', some with reed figureheads forming a creative extension of the prow. Excursions to the floating islands have become rather commercialised and many visitors are put off by the throngs of children begging for sweets and the persistence of the souvenir sellers, but its popularity remains due to the fact this unusual and fascinating way of life is not found anywhere else in the world.

Further out into the lake and therefore less visited, but more beautiful, are the two fixed islands of Taquile and Amantani, with a genuine traditional lifestyle without electricity or solid infrastructure that gives visitors a glimpse of pre-colonial Andean Peru. The inhabitants of the attractive island of Taquile still use age-old weaving techniques and wear colourful traditional clothes, and the steep-sided fertile shores are covered in pre-Inca agricultural terraces that are the basis for the island's self-sufficient economy. The larger island of Amantani is a basket-weavers island and traditional crafts like stone masonry, and Inca structures of agriculture and trade are still practiced.

Day tours can be arranged from Puno, taking travellers to the Floating Islands, and the two natural islands where traditional hospitality and accommodation is provided by the local residents; or boat trips depart for each island individually at various times throughout the day.


Lake Titicaca's climate and weather is largely influenced by its altitude as well as 'El Niño' which is known to cause serious droughts in the area. It experiences a generally pleasant and sunny climate throughout the day, especially from February to November, but the cool wind off the lake can make for some very chilly nights. The maximum average temperature in the northern Altiplano ranges from around 59F to 63F (15C to 17C) during the day while the nights are much colder averaging 33F (0.5C) in summer and (-10C) in winter at night. The average year-round temperature is 53F (12C) and most rainfall occurs during midsummer in December and January.

Spanish and Quechua are the official languages, but many other dialects are spoken. English is spoken only in major tourist centres and hotels.

The official currency is Nuevo Sol (PEN) divided into 100 céntimos. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, but all major international credit cards, including Diners Club and MasterCard, are accepted in many, but not all, establishments. Outside Lima facilities may be more limited. Travellers cheques may also be difficult to exchange in small towns and villages, and travellers are advised to have cash on hand. US Dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and plenty of restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities accept dollars for payment. Casas de cambio(exchange bureaux) often give better rates than hotels and banks and can be found in any town on the tourist circuit. ATMs are available in the main cities.

Local time is GMT -5.

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