Lake Titicaca Peru is located in the department of Puno bordering Bolivia in the Andes Mountains, its surface is evenly distributed between Bolivia and Peru. The lake is surrounded by Andean mountain ridges and slopes varying in altitude between 4,000 and 4,200 meters or 13,100 and 13,800 feet above sea level. The lake itself is located on a high plateau ranging from 3,657 to 4,000 meters or 11,200 to 13,100 feet above sea level. Lake Titicaca is known for the deep blue beauty of its water.
Deep blue water of Lake Titicaca
At this altitude temperatures average less than 15C or 59F all year round and it remains constant throughout the year. Temperatures do not drop at night or in winter as much as in other places at similar altitudes.
Lake Titicaca is divided into two sub-basins, the larger one is Lago Grande and the smaller is Lago Pequeño. Both lakes are connected by the Strait of Tiquina. The bright luminescent sunlight permeates the highland Altiplano making it feel spiritual and magical. It is necessary to bring sun block as the sunlight is very intense in high altitude and the rays bounding off the lake can cause severe sunburn. About 25 rivers deposit their water in the lake but only one, the Desaguadero River drains it, 95% or the incoming water lost through evaporation.
To the local population the lake has mystical properties as it is surrounded by fertile land in the otherwise dry and windswept Altiplano. The Inca Civilization considered the lake as a sacred place.
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 means “Rock Puma” derived from the Aymara language titi: wild cat and karka: rock. Legend tells that titis used to live on the rocky islands of the lake and that they 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.
Divers from “Atahualpa 2000” expedition by Akakor Geographical Exploring. BBC News
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.
Related Information about Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. It is the largest lake in South America in terms of volume.
Local indigenous people, the Uros, have settled in the shores of the lake for thousands of years but they also live on the islands. They live on about 40 manmade floating islands.
Puno is located in the Altiplano of Peru, surrounded by the Andean mountain range.
There are two legends explaining the origin of the Incas, the legend of Lake Titicaca and the Ayar Brothers.