Lake Titicaca

Overview

Introduction

This sacred lake of the Incas, the highest navigable major lake in the world, is a must-see. Its pristine waters change colors from dawn to dusk, depending on the clouds and the angle of the sun.

Nestled between two mountains and the shore of Lake Titicaca is the quaint town of Copacabana, a popular jumping-off point to destinations farther afield.

From Copacabana you can take day trips to the Island of the Sun and the Island of the Moon. The islands are inhabited by Aymara, the descendants of the people conquered by the Incas around AD 1400. (According to legend, the Incas considered the Aymara a very advanced society and left much of the culture intact.) Keep in mind that lots of high-altitude sunshine, reflecting waters and cool temperatures can conspire to produce a wicked sunburn—don't forget your sunscreen.

If you take a bus between La Paz and Copacabana, you'll be treated to spectacular scenery for most of the ride. The highway cuts across the Altiplano and then winds along the southern shore of the lake before coming to an end at the Straits of Tiquina. Passengers must get off the bus and board small motorboat-ferries to cross the straits. (The bus goes across on a barge.) The road resumes on the other side. If you're going on to Peru (which shares the lake with Bolivia), take the hydrofoil rather than going around the shore by bus—it's faster and the views are better. Lake Titicaca begins 35 mi/55 km west of La Paz.

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