Incan mythology suggests that the first Inca King, Manco Capac, was born by Lake Titicaca, and as it was Capac who constructed the formidable Incan kingdom in Cuzco, it’s not surprising the locals still regard this area as supremely sacred. Even to the visitor, Lake Titicaca’s vast stretch of sapphire coloured water conjures a majestic scene.
Fringing both south-east Peru and western Bolivia, the lake comprises two separate basins connected by a narrow strait and at 12,500 feet is believed to be one of the highest navigable lakes in the world, as well as the largest in South America. So large is it, that it was only in recent years a 1500-year-old temple was found submerged in its depths. While legend tells of the invading Spanish discarding precious Incan gold into its waters, nothing has ever been found. As the sun dips into the horizon, you can ponder on these and many other things as the last lingering light casts the surrounding plains in swathes of colour and perhaps even a spiritual aura.
Remarkably, a number of civilisations still live on the lake, on man-made floating islands constructed entirely of dried Tortora reed. Centuries ago, their ancestors built these islands in an attempt to escape the Incas and although they’re now more of a tourist attraction, the communities have changed very little. Take a tour to one of four reed islands and step aboard the woven, slightly spongy island floors; observe organic living at its most extreme with reed-houses and even reed-boats. Of course, the lake is home to other, naturally formed islands, so if you prefer your feet on sturdier ground, stop here and spend your time scouring the water’s edge for Incan treasure.
***Lake Titicaca images have been supplied by Aracan Travel