Considered the cradle of Incan civilization, as well as the center of the Incan Empire, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America. It runs from southeastern Peru to western Bolivia. The lake is 196 kilometers in length and 56 kilometers in width (on average). According to records, it is the highest navigable lake in the world at around 3810 meters above sea level. Over 25 rivers flow into Lake Titicaca. Because of its size, the lake has waves. Its waters are cold due to the climate. Therefore, it is not fit for swimming. However, if you visit during the summertime, take warm clothes with you, as the days may be sunny. The nights, however, are rather cold.
While in Peru, you can reach the lake from Puno, which is the capital of the altiplano, or the folkloric center of Peru and gateway to the lake. You can get to the area via flights from Lima and La Paz. Puno itself is not much of a tourist attraction, but it is an interesting place to visit during the festival period. The dances that are performed during the feast of the Virgen De Candelaria are spectacular sights.
During your visit to Lake Titicaca, you will see islands that rise from the waters. There are actually forty-one islands on the lake. Some of them are populated. You will see the floating reed islands. These islands are maintained by adding fresh reeds to the surface, even when the reeds on the bottom decompose. The reeds are used for many purposes. These include the building of the reed boats and sails, which are used daily on the lake.
Ruins exist on the islands and on the shore. These stand as testament to the ancient civilization that once lived in the region. According to the Incan mythological tradition, children of the Sun, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo (or Mama Huaca) emerged from the depths of the lake to the sacred rock gate of Isla Del Sol to establish the Incan Empire. The lake became a holy place. The sister island of Isla de la Luna is not a huge tourist destination, but is also considered a holy place because it housed the convent of the virgins of the sun. Further, the legend states that the Lemurian Solar Disc ruled the thousand year cycle of Incan time. When Spanish forces reached Cuzco, the Incas took the gold chain of Inca Huascar from the temple of Koricancha. They threw the two-ton chain into the lake. The chain has not been found to this day.
Besides being a favorite tourist destination in South America, Lake Titicaca is famous among archaeologists, scientists, and scholars. It is the focus on many archaeological and cultural studies. With a rich history, Lake Titicaca is the remnant of an ancient inland sea. During your visit, be mindful of the lake and its surroundings, as Lake Titicaca is sacred to the Aymara people who live in the area. You will learn a lot about the Incan civilization and Peru during your visit. You will also see the snow-capped mountains of the Andes in the backdrop.