June 4, 2010
Lake Titicaca is, undoubtedly, one of South America’s travel and tourism top highlights. It stands in the border between eastern Peru and western Bolivia and covers a surface of 3200 square miles, while its depth reaches 1000 feet. The Lake’s territory is shared by the two countries, on their respective jurisdiction. For the Inca Culture, Titicaca is the most Sacred place, the epicenter of the Universe. In recent times, a large temple was discovered, submerged in the lake, adding mystery and fascination to the place.
According to the Inca legend, the God of the Universe, Viracocha, rose from the bottom of the Lake, to create the world and the Universe. He commanded the Sun (Inti), the Moon (Mama Quilla) and the stars to rise. Then, he traveled to nearby Tiahuanaco, to create the first human beings, a male and female pair, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. These first humans, the “Adam and Eve of the Incas” were created by Viracocha from plain stone and brought to life, commanding them to populate the world. Thus, Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the Inca civilization and their spirits return to their origin, the lake, upon death.
For several decades, Lake Titicaca has been one of the most demanded travel destinations in South America. Nowadays, it continues to be one of the “musts” on a South American itinerary. During the early days of June, when Catholic Peru celebrates the Corpus Christi festivities, hundreds of Peruvian, Bolivian and international voyagers flock to Titicaca as one of the preferred places to spend the holiday. Even if there are no special fiestas or events related with the Catholic celebration, this is a favorite time of the year, especially for nationals of the two countries, to visit the Lake and its surroundings. Tour operators offer a variety of alternatives and options to enjoy the visit to this unique and Inca-Sacred place. The nearest bases to reach Titicaca are Puno on the Peruvian side and Copacabana on the Bolivian side, with air and land connections to and from Lima and/or La Paz.
In addition to its historic and cultural value as the cradle of the Inca Culture and civilization, Lake Titicaca is one of the largest, highest and deepest lakes in all the world. It is renowned for the beauty of its deep blue waters. Several of the 41 islands found in the lake are regarded as sacred. Among the most important is the Isla del Sol, or “Island of the Sun”, located on the Bolivian side. The largest of all the islands in the lake, it was considered as the home of Inti (Sun), the Supreme God of the Incas. The Island of the Moon is the legendary home of the Inca Goddess, Mama Quilla and was originally constructed by the Pre-Incan Aymara culture. During the Inca rule, this island housed chosen women known as the “Virgins of the Sun” who wove garments made from alpaca wool and performed ceremonies dedicated to the Sun God.
One of the most interesting and curious attractions of Lake Titicaca are the “Uros Islands”, which are man-made Floating Islands on the Peruvian side of the Lake. These unique floating islands are the home of the descendants of the ancient Uros culture who still live a simple, traditional life.
On the south end of the Sun’s Island is Yumani, the largest town in the island and site of the “Inca Steps”. Here, 206 steps were built by the Incas which lead up into the town and into a sacred fountain, made of stone. With three separate springs, it is recognized by the local tradition as a Fountain of Youth.
The Chinkana labyrinth; the giant Footsteps of the “Adam and Eve of the Incas” and many more remnants of the ancient civilizations which lived in the area, thousands of years ago, complete the tourist attractions of the region. In the year 2000, an international archaeological expedition discovered an old temple submerged in the depths of the Lake. The large structure is estimated to be some 1500 years old. Lake Titicaca is filled with mystery and legend, while also boasting superb beauty, a place worth visiting, as one of South America’s most exciting touring destinations…..