Lake Titicaca has a few records to its name. It’s the lake with the most amount of water in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake lies at 3812 meters above sea level, on the border between Peru and Bolivia. The main reason for tourists to visit the lake is the floating islands of Uros, which are visited daily by hordes of visitors. The villages and cities surrounding the lake have a charm of their own. Lake Titicaca can be discovered independently. If you rather join a group to travel to the lake, we recommend this G Adventures tour which covers all important stops in the area. Keep reading to discover the Titicaca region.
Puno – Peru
The student town of Puno is the main hub for visiting Lago Titicaca. Puno is a charming village and we end up staying there for much longer than anticipated. Central and South Americans love festivities and we’re lucky to be a part of them once more. Students and youngsters are marching through the streets, dressed up in crazy costumes and accompanied by loud music. It seems like everywhere we go, festivities are held. We’re loving it! The city has a few nice hostels and there’s an abundance of cheap eateries.
When streets turn into rivers
With its steep streets, the roads tend to look like fast-flowing rivers when it rains. This happened the day before we wanted to leave. On our way back to the hostel, all hell broke loose and within a few minutes, the streets turned into vicious, seething rivers. Hiking boots or beach slippers, it made no difference at all. We had our shoes, upside down, on top of a stove all night. In the morning, they were still wet. Beach slippers might have been more convenient.
Indigenous people of the Islands
The Uros Islands are the main attraction on the lake. Indigenous people used the handmade islands to hide from Spanish conquerors. Since they’re floating among the reed of the lake, they can’t be seen from the shore. The islands are made of reed and floating plants tied neatly together. A lot of thought was put into creating the islands, enhancing their techniques over the years. Reed houses were built on top of the islands and entire families live on the surface of the lake.
A trip to Uros
A day-trip to Uros is the only way to visit the islands and it will take you through the entire tourist activity ritual. Local dress up in their native clothing, showing you how life could have been without tourism. Fishing and maintaining the islands used to be their main concern. Now their day job consists of showing tourists around. It’s a fun activity to do, but I did feel like I was invading the precious lives of these families. At the end of the tour, you get an opportunity to buy handmade goods from the families on one of the islands and you get a cool boat ride on one of the impressive reed boats.
Crossing the border to Bolivia
At the bus terminal in Puno, we buy tickets to go all the way to Copacabana, Bolivia. The bus is nice, luxurious and we reach the border in no time. Crossing the border turns out to be easier than ever. We have to carry our own luggage and report our bags to the customs service. The officials just nod, ask why we came here and finish up stamping our passports. After getting our stamps, we want to return to our pretty bus, only to discover it’s gone. It has been replaced by an older, rustier type to continue the trip into a new country. Nobody cared to tell us this when we took off, for obvious reasons. We’re not too difficult and Copacabana isn’t that far, so we continue our journey with a little less leg space.
Copacabana – Bolivia
Copacabana is a small town on the banks of the lake. Locals visit this village once a year to pray to the Lady of Copacabana, who can make your every wish come true. Luckily we didn’t witness this pilgrimage because it gets extremely crowded. During our visit, Copacabana is quiet and chill. The view from the shore is spectacular, especially at sunset. We didn’t book a hostel in advance and haggled to get a good price and a fancy hotel on the shore. The hotel is very expensive and upon hearing the price, we turn around and make our way to the exit. It’s our lucky day when we get called back and offered a spectacular price for a luxurious room with private bathroom, magnificent view and balcony. We’re thrilled and get our eyes on the best sunset views ever!