Lake Titicaca at 12,500 ft. (3,810ms.) above sea level and the highest navigable waterway in the world, was left behind after the last Ice Age. It is 100 miles (176kms.) long, 30 miles (50kms.) across and fed by eight rivers to a maximum depth of 1000 ft (304 ms.) and straddles the Peru Bolivia border. Its name, deeply significant in local mythology, derives from “ titi ” Aymara for cat and “ Caca ” Quechua for The Sacred Rock on the Island of the Sun. Around the Lake, cave paintings suggest the pre-historic coexistence of man and camelid – vicuna, llama and alpaca. There is evidence, too, of the early Colla, Lupaka and Pukara cultures but one of the most important archaeological sites in South America is that of Tiwanaku (400-1000AD).
Known also as The Sacred Lake, Titicaca later became the legendary birthplace of the Incas for, it is said, that the great God Viracocha emerged from its depths to create Manco Inca and Mama Ocllo on the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) one of its 30 islands.
In its dark blue waters are beds of totora reed provide a home or temporary resting place for 60 species of native and migratory birds, 18 species of amphibians and 12 varieties of aquatic plants.
The luminescent light and unpolluted air intensify the colours of the visiting rose pink flamingoes. Along the water’s edge grow the purple potato flower and ruby red quinoa, while up on the empty expanses of the altiplano, the only splash of colour is the psychedelic pink and green clothing of campesino women guarding their herds of llamas and alpacas. Beyond them rise the dramatic snow peaks of the Cordillera Real (6000ms+). Markets and livestock fairs are commonplace amongst the Aymara and Quechua communities and somewhere there is always a Fiesta!
Photo: Andrew Dare
For all its great beauty, the altiplano is not for the weak hearted. Life can be harsh to the native people who must eke out a subsistence level existence from the Lake or the land. For many, a seasonal drought or the weather phenomenon, El Niño, will destroy their livelihood and drive them into Puno looking for work. Unemployment in Peru runs at nine percent and this is no better in Puno.
So many Puneños move away from the sierra to add to the misery of the shanty towns which surround the larger towns. Any project which offers employment and generates revenue around Lake Titicaca is helping to arrest this negative trend. In addition, This project is proactively promoting the region. If you Suppport us, you will be helping to alleviate some of the hardships endured by these uncomplaining people - and to unlock the potential of the Lake.