Lake Titicaca, a landlocked lake straddled across the border of Bolivia and Peru, is renowned for its history, beauty, legends, and the height at which it is situated.
It is protected by Peruvian law (national reserve status) as well as it is designated as a Ramsar Site in 1998. Ramsar Sites are designated due to the fact that they meet the Criteria for identifying Wetlands of International Importance.
Here are top interesting facts about Lake Titicaca, Peru:
#1 The lake sits at the northern end of the Altiplano Basin in the Andes Mountains, occupying areas in western Bolivia and southeastern Peru.
#2 It is the highest navigable lake in the world. It sits at 12,464 feet (3,812 meters) above sea level. Due to its high elevation, Lake Titicaca’s climate is cold or cool for much of the year. In addition, due to the high elevation of the lake, headaches are a common complaint amongst travelers not acclimated to the high elevation.
#3 Its geographical coordinates are 15.821324° S, 69.384155° W.
#4 The name ”Titicaca” comes from the two Quechua words – ”Titi” that means ”Puma” and the word ”Caca” which can be translated as ”Gray or White Hairs of The Head”.
#5 The average depth is a more moderate 351 feet. The deepest point is 920 feet (280 meters). Also, it has a maximum width of 50 miles and a maximum length of 118 miles.
#6 It is one of less than 20 ancient lakes on Earth, and is believed to be approximately 3 million years old, according to the UNESCO World Heritage Center.
#7 The Lake is divided into two parts:
- the minor lake called Huiñamarca, with a surface of 2112km;
- the major lake called Chucuito, with a surface of 6450km.
#8 The small part of Lake Titicaca is referred to as Lago Pequeno, that translates as ”little lake,” while the large part of the lake is referred to as Lago Grande, that translates as ”big lake.”
#9 The eastern side is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department, while the western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region of Peru.
#10 On the Bolivian side of the lake, you will find the fascinating town of Challapampa – the home of the famous labyrinth (Chinkana). On the Peruvian side of the lake, the town of Puno is the best place to stay.
#11 There are 25 rivers which deposit their water in this amazing lake. The Ramis River is the most important contributor in terms of volume followed by Coata, Huancane, Ilave, and Suchez.
#12 Only about 5 percent of the water coming into Lake Titicaca is drained by a river. This river is called – River Desaguadero. The remaining 95 percent of incoming water is lost by evaporation into the atmosphere.
#13 Titicaca’s waters are limpid and only slightly brackish, with salinity ranging from 5.2 to 5.5 parts per 1,000.
#14 The highest levels of rainfall happen between December and January. Between February and November is the best time to visit, as it is pleasant and warm.
The Sacred Lake
#15 The Andean peoples refer to the lake as “The Sacred Lake.” According to Incan legend, this lake was the birthplace of Manco Cápac, the first Incan king, and for this reason, the lake is considered sacred.
#16 In 2000, an international archaeological expedition discovered an ancient temple submerged in the depths of this lake. The structure is about twice the size of a soccer field and was found by following a submerged road which starts near Copacabana.
The Uros people
#17 The Uros people have been living on the lake for centuries because they were forced to take up residence on the floating islands when the Incas expanded onto their land.
The Uros people make their living from fishing and from selling their reed handicrafts to tourists.
Isla del Sol
#18 Isla del Sol is probably the foremost point of interest. This island has over 180 ruins dating back to the Incan period, that includes a labyrinth-like monument and a Sacred Rock. In addition, it is here that Manco Capac was supposedly born.
#19 Water pollution is an increasing concern because cities in the Titicaca watershed grow, occasionally outpacing solid waste and sewage treatment infrastructure. For instance, in 2012, the Global Nature Fund nominated the lake “Threatened Lake of the Year.”
#20 IUCN reports that the Titicaca water frog (scientific name – Telmatobius culeus) was once common in this area, however, lately has declined by 80%, making it critically endangered.
#21 Bolivia is planning to invest over US$83 million within the next four years to decontaminate and preserve the lake, according to a September 2017 statement of Carlos Ortuño, the Environment and Water Minister.
#22 Since 2000, this lake has experienced constantly receding water levels. For example, between April and November 2009 alone the water level dropped by 81 cm (32 in), reaching the lowest level since 1949.
#23 More than 530 aquatic species can be found in the lake (one of the most famous of which is the giant frog of Titicaca, that can weigh up to 3 kg), plus, numerous species of water birds. Interestingly, over 90 percent of the fish found in the basin are endemic species not found anywhere else. The most common fish in the lake are catfish and killifish.