12
Jan
2014

Guide to Peru: Lake Titicaca

The world’s highest navigable lake lies at a breathtaking 3,800m.

Out in the lake it really feels like a sea – it is 184km long by 56km wide, 10,000 square kilometres of water.

Titicaca means puma ‘titi’ and rabbit ‘caca’, the former being a sacred animal for the local Aymara people.
So it’s Lake Puma-Rabbit.

Strange thing is that is you look at an aerial shot of the lake, at the right angle, it is in the shape of a puma and a rabbit.

Having said that it only works when a guide shows you as you cross the lake.

It certainly made sense at the time but I haven’t been able to see the resemblance since returning to low altitude. Perhaps the coca tea helps one’s powers of imagination.

The landscape around the shore is dry, wide and open with enormous, low skies which are an amazing saturated blue.
The traditional dress of the area is made up of vibrant coloured dresses and waistcoats topped off with a small bowler hat for the women.

The bowler hats are a fashion statement dating back to the 19th century when British engineers came to the lake to construct the steamers, one of which is still moored up on the edge of the town of Puno.

Look at the women’s braids and you get a clue as to their marital status. Black braids mean that they are married, brightly coloured ones and they are single.

The main cities along the Peruvian side of the lake are Juliaca and Puno.

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