Visitors to southern Peru certainly have a full array
of possible destinations to choose from. The Sacred
Valley, with Cusco and nearby Machu Picchu, attracts
the bulk of tourists to southern Peru. The
Sacred Valley towns of Ollantaytambo and Pisac do well to provide a
nice list of side trips, and the further away city of Arequipa is possibly Peru's
most attractive. Also worthy of your travel time
down this way is the small city of Puno,
which sits on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca.
Surely you have heard of this lake at some point, and
its name makes it quite hard to forget. Lake Titicaca
is set in the Andes Mountains at an altitude of around 12,500 feet, and as such, earns
the title of highest navigable lake in the world.
Other Lake Titicaca facts tell us that it is the largest
lake in South America in terms of volume, and that it
is sometimes used by the Bolivian Naval Force for naval
Lake Titicaca is a most sacred place when it comes to Inca religion and mythology, as it was here that the first Inca king, Manco Capac, was born by the sun god, Inti. Manco would create the Kingdom of Cusco, thus beginning the Inca Empire. If you make it to the Bolivian town of Copacabana, where pilgrims from all over the continent come to get the Virgin's blessing, then you can take a boat to the Isla del Sol. There is a sacred rock here which marks the point from which Manco Capac emerged. As far as the origin of the name Titicaca goes, it remains mostly a mystery. Two possible translations for the name are "Rock Puma" and "Crag of Lead". If you are looking at a Lake Titicaca map, you will see that it is separated into two sub-basins that are linked by the narrow Strait of Tiquina. In the Spanish language, the larger sub-basin is named Lago Grande (Large Lake), while the smaller is known as Lago Pequeño (Small Lake). As Lake Titicaca facts have it, the deepest point in the lake is some 930 feet. It is found on the larger side. The average depth of Lake Titicaca is 350 feet, and perhaps due to the coverage of the surrounding snow-covered peaks, the lake's waters are generally quite calm. When it is cloudy, the lake takes on a sort of grey color, but when the sun is out, its soft blue tone makes for a truly beautiful setting.
The water in Lake Titicaca comes from a combination of rainfall and meltwater. Glaciers in the sierra and throughout the Altiplano region feed five major rivers that end at the lake. Some 20 other smaller rivers also feed into the lake, and due to the sources, the water is quite cold. Suffice it to say that unless you somehow fall out of a tour boat, you won't be swimming here. One of the more curious Lake Titicaca facts has to do with its number of islands. There are 41 of them, and a good amount of people call them home. The aforementioned Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun), is among the larger Lake Titicaca islands, whereas the Uros Islands are probably the most curious. In Puno, you can arrange to go on one of the Lake Titicaca tours that visits the Uros islands, which are made from the tortora reed. These islands float, and the natives who live here carry on a tradition that goes back thousands of years. The artificial islands of Uros are among Peru's top tourist attractions, and you can purchase handmade crafts here that will surely make for great souvenirs. Many of the Lake Tititcaca tours also visit the island of Taquile, which is more populated. Taquile is a standard island, fashioned by the earth itself. These tours include sailing for hours on the lake, which is a joy in and of itself, especially if the sun is shining. Perhaps asking the sun god Inti for help in that department isn't a bad idea.
When it comes to Lake Titicaca hotels on the Peru side, the town of Puno is where you will likely want to stay. A fairly simple town that thrives mostly due to Lake Titicaca tourism, Puno is nonetheless fun to visit. It is generally hailed as the capital of Peruvian folklore, and its small bars and restaurants are great places to chat with other travelers. In the past, the Puno Lake Titicaca hotels were mainly geared towards budget travelers, and while there are a bunch of good hostels to choose from, newer midrange options are becoming just as typical. Some of the hostels are pretty basic, and it might be a good idea to check them out before handing over any Peruvian currency. From June to September, the Lake Titicaca hotels are at their fullest, as this is the high season for Lake Titicaca tourism. For top accommodations near town, consider the hotels found on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The Sonesta Posada del Inca Lake Titicaca is one of the nicest Lake Titicaca hotels, boasting large and comfortable rooms for around $100-$130.