Books Magazine

Cruising Through Lake Titicaca

Posted on the 18 May 2020 by Cheekymeeky

While planning my trip to Peru, with the limited time I had in hand (only 9 days), I knew I had to pick and choose my destinations with care. Of course, Machu Picchu was a no-brainer. But it was hard to choose other places to visit.

A friend of mine who recently visited Peru highly recommended exploring the Amazon jungles near Puerto Maldonado. But I had a dream - to explore the highest navigable lake in the world. Could I possibly squeeze that in along with the Amazon jungle experience? Unfortunately no, I had to make a choice.

I eventually chose Lake Titicaca.

There are mixed reviews on Lake Titicaca on the web. Some people really enjoyed it, while some were meh. I can understand that, it's not a place for everyone. I enjoyed it, but that's because I have never really visited a place like this before. If you have explored other famous lakes, you might not be too impressed with the place.

About Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca extends from Peru into Bolivia. And Taquile island is one of the spots from where you can spot the Bolivian border.

I was pretty excited about this (for some strange reason). After all, it's just another coast. But it felt exciting to see the border of another country 😀. What I wasn't prepared for is the sheer, raw beauty of the lake.

I also wasn't prepared for the size of the lake. From the shore, it didn't look that big. It wasn't until we were on the lake, and I realized what I thought was the other side of the lake was in actuality just a promontory.

When we crossed that, I saw we were surrounded by water on all sides, with nothing around us! It felt like we were in an ocean 🌊 . Even more surprising was that the water in the lake was a little salty. The tour guide explained to us that it was actually an ancient ocean!

This may be a good time to explain some key facts about Lake Titicaca.

  • Surface Area - 3,230 square miles (8,370 square km).
  • Length - As you can see from this map of Lake Titicaca, the lake stretches from the northwest to the southeast for a distance of about 120 miles (190 km).
  • Width - At its widest point, the lake measures about 50 miles (80 km).
  • Average Depth - 107 meters
  • Maximum Depth - 920 feet (280 meters). The deepest part of the lake is in the northeast corner; some sources put this maximum depth closer to 1000 feet (305 meters).

Pretty impressive, right!

The water was a bit choppy when we started, and it was pouring heavily (we visited in late Feb, which is the rainy season).

I was mentally prepared for a washout. I had initially planned to trek through the island, but I wasn't feeling like doing it in the rain. My shoes weren't waterproof, and I didn't want to risk damage to my DSLR camera ☹️.

Thankfully, just as we started nearing Taquile island (it's about 2 hours from Puno), the sun shone through, and I was able to take pics from the boat.

Taquile island

Isla de Taquile is an island on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca (not the Bolivian side). This island is special because there are no roads for cars, no WiFi and the locals, Taquileños, live by some pretty cool rituals! It also has some great views of the lake!

One of the other attractions of Isla Taquile is the weaving work, which dates back to ancient times. Taquile Island textiles are recognised by UNESCO. It is one of the first things you will notice as you dock as it is the island uniform; the locals wear it with pride!

The knitting is really intricate. I tried replicating some of their designs (check my insta), but my chubby fingers just could not figure it out.

What they call knitting is very different from the way we normally do it. This is no basic knit and perl. Even the knitting needles used are different!

If you see the photo to the right, you can see her holding what looks like a spindle and doing a little weaving. She's just casually walking around the island working.

The nice thing is that even the men on the island knit and weave. I wish I had a photo of the men on the island. It's probably somewhere in my camera. I"ll share it on Insta if I find it.

The Fabulous Views

Taquile island is very sparsely inhabited. Plus, because I was visiting during the off-peak period, there were no other tourists either. What this meant, was the freedom to have a long, leisurely hike across the island and enjoy the beautiful vistas without any pressure.

Here are some photos.

The island is quite fertile, and the locals grow a lot of potato and quinoa here. We walked through potato fields and tiny villages with stone walls and thatched roofs.

The hike across the island took about an hour's time. As hikes go, it should have been a fairly easy one. However, because of the altitude (4050 m above sea level), I did have to take short breaks in between to catch my breath.

Leaving Taquile island with this one last photo of the lake.

Amantani island

After Taquile island, we proceeded to our next stop - Amantani island. This island is close by and just as scenic. Unfortunately, we had spent so much time in Taquile island that we didn't have too much time for sightseeing.

Amantani island is a bit more modern than Taquile. The people speak Spanish (in Taquile, people speak Quechua). So, I was able to converse with them with my limited Spanish 😆. They are also dressed in modern regular clothing and seemed more aware of the world than the people in Taquile island.

I met up with a local couple who run homestays there, and had lunch with them. I wish I had photos to share with you all, but they seemed awkward around my camera, and once the lunch came, I forgot about the photos and just inhaled all it all in (starving from the trek and a piss poor early morning breakfast). The food was all made with local ingredients grown on the island. I had a steaming bowlful of quinoa soup, followed with rice and vegetables. Simple, but hearty and so delicious! One of the best meals I had in Peru.

After lunch, I just lazed around the island ignoring our boat captain who insisted we had to return. Apparently after 2 pm, the water gets very rough. I looked at the calm lake and thought he just wants to get home and nap.

But no! As soon as I got into the boat, I saw he was right. The waves were actually 6-8 metres tall, and pretty frightening. It was such a weird feeling to express such high waves in a lake, and that too when the sky was so sunny!

Anyway, I made it back alive to tell the tale 😊, and even make one other trip on to the lake - this time to the Uros floating islands - will be featuring those soon in my next blog post on Peru.

Hope you enjoyed this write-up on my experience visiting Lake Titicaca and surrounding areas. This is truly a beautiful place with lots of scenic beauty around it.

Watch out for more posts!

Cruising through Lake Titicaca
Cruising through Lake Titicaca

Nish

Voracious reader, vegetarian foodie, mostly armchair traveler, and frequent online shopper. I love to talk about all these passions (and other things happening in my life) in this blog.


Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog