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Lake Titicaca

Cradle of Incan Civilization

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Reed Boat on Lake Titicaca

Reed Boat on Lake Titicaca

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Lake Titicaca , the cradle of Incan civilization, and the origin of the Inca Empire is the largest lake on the South American continent. It is reputed to be the highest navigable lake in the world (about 3810 m/12,500 ft above sea level), extending from southeastern Peru to western Bolivia. The lake is 196 km (122 mi) long with an average width of 56 km (35 mi). The lake has waves, testament to its size and not surprising the waters are cold. At that altitude and fed from snow-clad Andes the lake does not invite swimming. It is the remnant of an ancient inland sea and the blue waters make a beautiful contrast to the parched altiplano.

You get to Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side from Puno, the capital of Peru's altiplano which is the folkloric center of Peru and gateway to Lake Titicaca. Puno itself is not attractive but the schedule of dances including the Devil Dance perfomed during the feast of the Virgen De Candelaria and other festivals attract visitors year round.

Check flights from your area to Lima or La Paz to make connections to the lake. You can also browse for hotels and car rentals.

According to Incan mythology, Manco Capac and Mama 0cllo, also known as Mama Huaca, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca on the sacred rock gate on Isla Del Sol to found the Inca Empire. The sister island Isla de la Luna is not as well visited but is also a holy place as it housed the convent of the virgins of the sun. The entire lake was a holy place. Also connected with the legend of Lake Titicaca is the Lemurian Solar Disc which governed the thousand year cycle of Incan time.

According to legend, when the Spanish forces reached Cuzco, the Incas took the two-ton gold chain of Inca Huascar from the temple at Koricancha and threw it into the lake. It has never been found although some years ago Jacques Cousteau mounted an expedition to explore the lake with a mini-submarine.

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