Lake Titicaca

Posted by on Oct 11, 2011 in Bolivia | 4 comments

It is my understanding that you can not visit either Bolivia or Peru without going to Lake Titicaca, located on the border between the two.  And why would you want to skip it? Especially when “Titicaca” is pronounced exactly the way it looks! Yes folks, the words  “titi” AND “caca” all in one fabulous location. Sure, it’s hard for the more immature Americans like Ben and myself to say it without cracking a smile or making some sort of crud joke, but we decided to go anyways, knowing eventually that we’d embarrass ourselves.

Traveler’s Side Note: If you’re in Bolivia the “titi” side is Bolivia and the “caca” side is Peru BUT if you’re in Peru the reverse is true.
Lake Titicaca, comedic pause, is really, really high up there. It’s almost 13,000 feet above sea level and catches the most amazing light from the sun. But besides being the highest navigable lake in the world, it’s also South America’s largest.

The mystical waters of Lake Titicaca

But fun facts about it’s physical attributes are not all this lake has going for it.  As Inca myth would have it, the lake is the cradle of creation. It is where their god rose out of the water’s depths to create the world and the heavens. It is also believed that all spirits return to the Lake upon death. For the Incas, It doesn’t get more holier then Lake Titicaca, making the Lake’s islands and surrounding land home to many ancient ruins and important pilgrimage sites.

Full Moon, as seen from the Cathedral's courtyard.

Our first stop on our Titicaca tour was Copacabana, Boliva, which is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana is hippy central with a Bolivian twist, here vendors alternate from selling hemp jewelry and feather hair extensions to hand woven wall tapestries and reed boat figurines.

Beautiful sunset in Copacabana.

It’s also where you can snack on anything from vegan gourmet to comidas tipica (Typical Bolivian food) to fresh grilled trout caught in the lake that morning. Ben and I ran to the fish stands that lined the lake. After being in land locked Bolivia for a month and half, we were dying for some fresh seafood!

One grilled fish with rice, fries, and a beverage complete with original head: $2 US dollars.

Copacabana is home to a Moorish style Cathedral dedicated to the Dark Virgin of the Lake.  And it is nothing short of breathtaking.   It is a beautiful pristine white structure with unique titling surrounded by a huge courtyard and rod iron gates.

Moorish Cathedral dedicated to the Dark Virgin of the Lake

Three crosses in the church's courtyard.

The elderly and handicapped line up in front of Cathedral’s main entrance asking for hand outs. They are not shy about begging often grabbing your arm or leg if you pass them by without notice. Most Bolivians give them money, though usually poor themselves. It’s unfortunately a sight of poverty that Ben and I have grown accustom to while traveling in this country.

Main Entrance to the Cathedral

Benedicion de Movidades (blessing of automobiles) occurs daily at 10am and 2:30pm in front of the cathedral.  This is where owners don their cars or buses with  garlands of flowers, colored ribbons and flags that can be bought at vendors stalls outside the church’s courtyard.  They even pour alcohol on their vehicles to christen their voyage home.  It sounds strange to us, but Bolivia’s roads are deadly, and if I was driving my car in Bolivia I would definitely be asking the Dark Virgin for some additional help.

Even gas guzzling jeeps get blessed in Copacabana

We then took a boat to the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) which is one of the largest islands in the Lake.  This island has over 80 ruins and no paved roads. In fact no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island, making you feel like you just went a couple hundred years back in time.

The tranquil serenity of Isla del Sol

And after climbing the 210 steps of the Inca Staircase to get to the first village we wondered how anything gets to the approximately 800 Aymara families that lived there without a car, but our question was soon answered when we saw donkeys loaded up with goods.

The Inca staircase

As we hiked around the island exploring, we encountered a Bolivia Day celebration.

A Cholita seating in front of a high flying Bolivian flag.

More Cholitas, those are the women wearing the stylish bolder hats.

Life on the island was so tranquil and peaceful that Ben said that it reminded him of the Greek islands. We fell instantly in love with the adobe brick houses, terraced farmlands, eucalyptus groves, cobblestone roads and farm animals. We decided to stay the night on the island.  Thankfully we knew of the perfect accommodations that a couple, Matt and Kimberly, told us about.

Our cabin on Lake Titicaca complete with terrace over looking the lake.

Daises next to our $10 US Dollar a night cabin.

Our cabin's view with the magnificent Cordillera Real in the background.


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  1. Jeep…throwing that term out kind of loosely…

  2. hahahahaha

  3. Hi Guys, I haven’t been in touch for a while. So it’s nice to read your delightful posts. I have to marvel at the two of you. I went to South Africa middle of September with 3 gal friends. After only 9 days, I was happy to head home. Where do you get your energy and enthusiasm to keep up this pace? Doesn’t sound like you take much down time. I’m happy for you, and you seem to be happy doing it, but I can’t figure out why you’re not exhausted all the time! (I do understand that you’re a bit younger than I!!!) Our trip was great–3 1/2 days in Cape Town. We went to Cape of Good Hope, Robben Island, up Table Mt, to watch the penguins play, etc. Then we went to Kruger Park and had a safari. We were most lucky and saw all the animals you could really expect to see–and lots of them. Was disappointed not to see a cheetah, but did see lions and a gorgeous leopard. Thought of you over there, Leah, and wondered what you saw & did while there. Love you!

    • Hi Aunt Sandy,
      That’s so cool that you went to South Africa!!!! Mom told me that you went there! Its such a special place! The penguins are so cute! I did alot of the same things you did when you where except we went to Botswana for safari. I heard Kruger Park is amazing! I can’t wait to see your pictures. Here is a link to my Africa pictures. I went during the World Cup so there’s a lot of soccer pictures too, maybe Wesley would be interested in. We are in Granada, Nicaragua right now. It’s pretty much the only place that doesn’t have tons of rain at the moment. Tell everyone I said Hi and that I’m think of them. Getting excited for Christmas! Yay! Love, L


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