Lake Titicaca, Peru, Bolivia

The famous Lago Titicaca in the Andes is the highest lake in the world and, with its islands worth seeing, where people still live without cars or electricity, is one of the most important sights in Peru and Bolivia.

Lake Titicaca on the Altiplano, the high plateau in the Andes, has always held a special fascination for people. Not only because it is the highest navigable lake in the world at over 3,800 metres, but also because the blue-green lake under the mostly steel-blue sky between Peru and Bolivia is dominated by a unique atmosphere. The world-famous lake is one of our top 10 sights of Bolivia.


PICTURES: Lake Titicaca

Photo gallery: Lake Titicaca

Home of the Aymara

With an area of almost 8,300 square kilometres (almost as large as Corsica), Lake Titicaca is the second largest lake in South America after Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela and even the largest in terms of water volume. It is one of the top ten sights in both Peru and Bolivia.

The shores of Lake Titicaca have been inhabited by the Aymara culture since about 1,500 BC. In the 15th century, the Inca empire reached its shores. Both peoples left their traces around the lake and on its numerous islands, which can still be visited today.

Despite the high altitude, Lago Titicaca provides a temperate climate so that maize, barley, potatoes and quinoa can be grown at temperatures around 10°C. It is said that Lake Titicaca is the original cultivation area of the potato, which spread from here all over the world.

Best time to visit Lake Titicaca

The average daily highs at Lake Titicaca are just above 15°C all year round. The best time to visit Lake Titicaca is around the Peruvian winter from April to October. Then it is usually dry and there are the most hours of sunshine. However, especially from May to August it can get freezing cold at night with temperatures as low as -10°C!

What is the best way to get to Lake Titicaca?

Lake Titicaca and its surroundings are excellently developed for tourism. The lake can be reached very easily by train, bus and car.

Journey to Lake Titicaca in Peru

Lake Titicaca is located at 3,800 meters above sea level, Peru, Bolivia - © flog / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

On the Peruvian side, the best starting point for boating on Lake Titicaca is the town of Puno. Puno itself has little to offer in the way of sights apart from the richly decorated cathedral on the main square and the unusual "Museo Flotante Yavari", which is located in the belly of the iron ship Yavari.


From here, however, the excursion boats set off along the south-west side of Lago Titicaca through traditional Indian communities with colonial churches, from where grandiose views over the lake open up again and again.

Journey to Lake Titicaca from Bolivia

On the Bolivian side, excursion boats depart from the place of pilgrimage Copacabana to the famous Islas del Sol and de la Luna.

Accommodation at Lake Titicaca

Accommodation is available mainly in Puno, Copacabana, Isla del Sol and in the hotels on the south shore of Lake Titicaca.

Islands and peninsulas on Lake Titicaca

The real sights of Lake Titicaca are its scenic islands and peninsulas, some of whose inhabitants still live in their own culture without electricity or cars as they did a hundred years ago.

Peru: Isla Taquile

Colorful folklore on Isla Taquile in Lake Titicaca, Peru - © flog / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

Isla Taquile in Lake Titicaca was one of the last areas of Peru to be conquered by the Spanish. The inhabitants still live completely autonomously in their own culture, without cars, without police and without hotels from fishing and terrace farming. The approximately 2,000 inhabitants all speak Quechua, the younger ones also Spanish.

Taquile is particularly interesting during the Fiesta de Santiago on 25 July. During the colourful festivities, visitors can marvel at the world-renowned handicrafts of the Taquileños, which have even been included in the UNESCO list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

Peru: Isla Amantani

There are fewer tourists than on Isla Taquile on the nearby island of Amantani, whose inhabitants also produce fantastic textiles. There are even some Inca ruins to discover in the grandiose landscape.

The journey takes a little longer, but Amantani is wonderfully quiet without cars and hotels. Even the farming is done without machines and since the petroleum for the generators has become expensive, there is no electricity on Amantani. In the light of candles and torches, tourists can spend a night in the huts of some families.


Peru: Islas de los Uros (Floating Islands)

Colorful market on the Islas de los Uros, the floating islands on Lake Titicaca, Peru, Bolivia - © flog / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

In the morning and early afternoon, small wooden boats leave Puno and sail to the "Floating Islands of the Uros". These man-made islands consist entirely of reeds and earth, but only at high tide do the Islas de los Uros actually float.

Even the houses are built from the lush green rushes, which dry out over time and have to be renewed again and again. Originally, the Uros created the more than 40 floating islands to protect themselves from the warlike Incas.

The seafaring people live from fish and water birds and increasingly also from tourism, although encounters with foreign visitors are limited to furtive photography on the one hand and the display of colourful costumes and souvenirs on the other. Communication with the inhabitants of the Islas de los Uros is almost impossible and as a tourist you feel a bit like a visitor in a zoo - where the ground sways.

Peru: Isla Suasi

Dreamlike sunset at Lago Titicaca, the second largest lake in South America, seen from the Peruvian island Suasi, Peru, Bolivia - © flog / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

Isla Suasi is privately owned and offers a wonderful, if not entirely inexpensive, accommodation option. You can get to Suasi either directly from Puno by motorboat or by land to Conima, from where it is only a short distance across the water.

Bolivia: Copacabana Peninsula

Copacabana, Bolivia's most important place of pilgrimage on the peninsula of the same name, is situated in a picturesque bay on Lake Titicaca, framed by Cerro Calvario and Cerro Sancollani opposite. The snow-white cathedral from 1820 is the most important sight of Copacabana.

Incidentally, this is also where the famous beach in Rio de Janeiro got its name. The dreamlike sandy beaches and the bright blue sky are also reminiscent of the famous namesake in Rio - however, the moderate temperatures at an altitude of almost 4,000 metres hardly arouse any desire to swim.

Bolivia: Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun)

The first Inca, Manco Cápac, was sent to earth by Viracocha on Isla del Sol in Lake Titicaca, Bolivia - © flew / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

The largest island in Lake Titicaca is regularly approached by boats from Copacabana. Most of the 5,000 inhabitants live in the three largest settlements of Isla del Sol, Yumani, Cha'lla and Cha'llapampa. There are almost 200 Inca ruins to visit from the 15th century.


According to ancient mythology, the sacred Isla del Sol is the birthplace of the Inca. This is where the deity Viracocha is said to have sent the first Inca, Manco Cápac, who descended to earth via the "titi karka", the "Puma Rock".

In the 13th century, the Incas took possession of the Island of the Sun, but left the Aymara who lived there alone. The most sacred island of the sun was only allowed to be entered by the highest priests of the Inca, who paid homage to the sun god Inti in a labyrinth of pure gold.

When the Spaniards conquered the Inca Empire, the temple guards allegedly sank the entire treasure of the Island of the Sun in the almost 300-metre-deep Lake Titicaca - it has not been found to this day despite countless attempts.

Bolivia: Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon)

Temple complex on Isla de la Luna in Lake Titicaca, where the Inca god Viracocha is said to have commanded the moonrise, Peru - © flog / franks-travelbox
© flew / franks-travelbox

East of the Island of the Sun lies the smaller Island of the Moon. Here Viracocha is said to have commanded the rising of the moon. On the north side of the island lie the remains of the "acllahuasi", the temple of the sun virgins. It resembled the former Santa Catalina monastery in Cusco and consisted of 35 rooms in the basement alone. Archaeologists also discovered the structures of a temple similar to those in nearby Tiwanaku among the Inca ruins.

Protection of Lake Titicaca

Lago Titicaca has suffered greatly from the population surge of the now 2 million people living on its shores. The withdrawal of water from the lake and its tributaries has led to a lowering of the water level by almost one metre in recent decades.

The sewage from the big cities, the overgrazing by alpacas, sheep and cattle and the heavy metals from illegal mines further contaminated Lake Titicaca. The Peruvian and Bolivian governments tried to counteract the disastrous effects on the environment and wildlife at Lake Titicaca.

In October 1978, the Reserva Nacional del Titicaca (National Reserve of Titicaca) was created, which covers an area of 350 square kilometres north of Puno. The entire lake has also been a Ramsar site since 1998 and has been part of a project against climate change since 2011. The endemic bird, fish and amphibian species, such as the Titicaca giant frog or the Andean carpets, are nevertheless still threatened.