Thought to be over a million years old, and listed as the largest freshwater lake in South America, Titicaca sits 3810m above sea level in a prime position between Peru to the west and Bolivia to the east.
Surrounded by myth and mystery, Lake Titicaca is a sacred place for the Incas, who believe that the lake gave birth to the sun, the stars, and the first Inca people Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo.
As it is easily accessible from Puno on the Peruvian side and Copacabana on the Bolivian side, Lake Titicaca has become quite the tourist attraction over the years, but like other popular sites such as Macchu Picchu and Potosi, it is well worth a visit, and the photo opportunities are endless.
With a total of 41 islands on the lake, and a submerged ancient temple below it, the navy blue waters of Titicaca are packed with hidden surprises, and if you would like to escape the mainland and experience the true beauty of this ancient wonder, a trip to Sun Island (Isla del Sol), and Moon Island (Isla de la Luna) is a must.
Isla del Sol is located on the Bolivian side of the lake, a short hop from Copacabana. The largest of all islands on Lake Titicaca, it homes the fascinating Chinkana stone labyrinth, a few hotels and eco-lodges, and possibly the best sunsets you will ever see. In the south of the island, you will find the town of Yumani and the Inca steps. Built by the Incas many moons ago, the 206 steps lead to the sacred fountain, otherwise referred to as the “fountain of youth”.
Neighbouring island, Isla del la Luna, holds great mythological significance to the Incas, who believe it to be the home of Inca goddess Mama Quila. There are many ruins to visit on Moon Island, some dating back to the pre-Incan Aymara culture, and there are still remnants of the nunnery built for the “Virgins of the Sun” or “Chosen women”.
So which side of Lake Titicaca is the best? Well, the jury seems to be out on that one, but if you are looking for something slightly less ‘touristy’ and a little more peaceful, I would be inclined to lean towards Bolivia. That said the Peru side is closer to the floating Uros Islands, and offers equally stunning views of the lake.
A magical, mysterious lake between the Andean plateau and the Andes, Titicaca is something for everyone’s bucket list, and the only place on earth you visit the sun and moon in one day!