With its inky blue depths set against a dramatic backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Lake Titicaca is not only visually striking; it is also a place of legends. The world’s highest navigable lake, this vast expanse of over 8000 square kilometres of water straddling Bolivia and Peru is often referred to as the birthplace of the Inca. Manco Capac, the first Inca King was born here, and remnants of Inca sites can be found on many of the lake’s 41 islands. Countless other ancient civilisations also made this area their home long before the arrival of the Incas however, and the descendants of some of these peoples still inhabit the islands today. A typical tour on the lake will usually take in a visit to one or more of these islands, where you can enjoy superb views and the chance to see some of these island communities with their colourful traditional dress and customs which have remained unchanged for hundreds of years.
The mystique of Lake Titicaca is certainly not always apparent when you first reach Puno, the main access town to the lake in Peru. A ramshackle and at times chaotic city, it will never be a highlight of anyone’s holiday, but it is a convenient base for day trips out on to the lake, served by a regional airport in nearby Juliaca, good road connections and also a train station. Puno also has the best choice of hotels in the region, ranging from simple but affordable options in the city centre to more luxurious properties on the shores of the lake.