Lake Titicaca, Peru, the largest lake in South America

Lake Titicaca, Peru, the largest lake in South America

Lake Titicaca (Spanish: Lago Titicaca) is located on the border between northern Bolivia and southern Peru. It is considered the highest commercially navigable body of water in the world (3821m).

Covering some 8300 square kilometers, Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, not counting Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela, which is connected to the sea by a strait. The area of the lake is divided between Peru and Bolivia. Approximately 60% of the lake is in Peru and 40% of the lake is in Bolivia. Most of the Tiquina peninsula, which juts out from the Peruvian shore, also belongs to Bolivia.

Titicaca is the ancestral land of the Quechuas, Aymaras, Uros, Pacajes, and Puquinas. Lake Titicaca was the foundation of the most influential pre-Hispanic cultures of the Andean Region. Many independent kingdoms grew out of this fertile area beginning in the 9th century, though interestingly most of these kingdoms were ultimately rivals, until the middle of the 15th century, when the Incas conquered the region, which they considered important because of its wool and meat production. Today, Puno continues its vast agricultural traditions and also its ancestral rituals such as offerings to Pachamama (Mother Earth) and these ancient customs are ever-present in the lives of the inhabitants of the region.

The Titicaca Reserve was created in 1978, with the purpose of preserving the native flora and fauna and the beauty of the area’s countryside. There are 60 species of birds, 14 species of fish and 18 species of amphibians in the Reserve; one of the most famous of which is the giant frog of Titicaca, which can weigh up to 3 kg!

The islands of the Titicaca Lake are:
- Isla de la Luna
- Isla del Sol
- Isla Amantani
- Isla Taquile - An island that has maintained its culture for several thousand years
- The floating Uros Islands - a bit touristy/artificial, but still interesting and worth stopping-off at if you are on your way to one of the other islands
- Isla Suasi

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