Lake Titicaca history
Lake Titicaca is a geological wonder formed during the pre-ice age about sixty million years ago. The lake was formed when massive earthquakes shook the Andes Mountains splitting the range in two and forming a hollow that eventually got filled with water from the melting glaciers, creating bodies of water and ultimately rivers and the immense Lake Titicaca.
According to one of the legends of the origin of the Incas, the first Inca Manco Capac and his wife Mama Ocllo emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca on the sacred rock on Isla Del Sol to look for a place to build an empire. Lake Titicaca was a sacred lake to the Incas.
Lake Titicaca was the cradle for Peru’s ancient civilizations. The Puraka culture settled in this fertile land around 200BC and a millennium later the Tiwuanaku culture emerged and spread throughout the Altiplano and into Bolivia. Warlike tribes like the Aymaras and the Collas emerged only to be absorbed by the Incas. It was the Inca civilization that unified the many cultures and spread into this land forming the Inca Empire. The current local population is the Uros people who have populated this territory for hundreds of years, they come from the Aymara and the Quechua populations and they speak the ancient language of Aymara.
It is believed that the name Titicaca derived from the Aymara language titi: wild cat and karka: rock. Titis used to live on the rocky islands of the lake. Legend tells that these cats swam from the islands to the mainland in search of food. Nowadays the titi cat or the Andean cat is the most endangered cat species in the Americas.
Legend of the lost city
Ever since the Inca civilization inhabited this area, the lake has drawn fascination and according to local population is has mythical, almost sacred powers. Stories of Inca treasures lost by the Spanish and an underwater city have attracted many expeditions. In 1968 French explorer Jacques Cousteau undertook a one and a half month underwater exploration. The expedition did not find the lost city but brought out animal varieties not found anywhere else in the world.
In 2000 the international scientific group Akakor Geographical Exploring launched the expedition “Atahualpa 2000”. They found ruins of what appeared to be a temple and a submerged road dating back 1,000 to 1,500 years, the ruins belong to the Tiwanaku culture. Their conclusion was that the temple exists but it is not a submerged city. Attempts to bring the ruins to surface have faced resistance from the local population who are superstitious about disturbing the waters of Lake Titicaca.