Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and, after Machu Picchu, one of the most popular destinations in Peru. Straddling the Peru-Bolivia border at over 12,000 feet high, the lake is a sacred place for many Peruvians. According to ancient Andean mythology, the first Inca king and descendant of the sun surfaced from this lake to create the Incan Empire. It is also said that the sun, moon, and stars rose from Lake Titicaca and into the sky. These days, it’s a wonderful spot to get off the beaten path, connect with Peruvian culture and mythology, and have a truly unique experience in the high plains of Peru.
Lake Titicaca is the perfect post-Machu Picchu trip to add to any itinerary. By adding just a few days on to the end of your vacation, you gain insight into a whole other region of Peru; one with its own legends, culture, indigenous communities, and beauty to behold. One common concern about visiting Lake Titicaca is that it can feel inauthentic or staged; however, when your visit there is accompanied by an expert guide with a local’s knowledge of the tucked away spots and extra special sights to see, it makes all the difference. Done right, your Lake Titicaca travel days have the potential to be the most culturally and authentically rich portion of your trip!
4 ways to get off the beaten path at lake titicaca
1) See the lake by kayak
Spend the morning kayaking along the shores of the isolated Llachon peninsula with views of indigenous communities along the shore and Bolivia in the distance. Seeing these communities and the lake by kayak really gives you the opportunity to let your surroundings soak in. Cross the blue water to Taquile Island and, after kayaking around the island a bit, go ashore for a late lunch. This schedule provides you with an exceptional first portion of the day, having the morning sun lighting up the water, and landing you at the island in time for a relaxing lunch, some hiking, and time to explore the island. Spending the afternoon on land also means you’ll be exploring once many of the larger visitor groups have headed back to Puno, the main Peruvian city along the lake. Watch the sun set over the Cordillera Blanca mountain range in Bolivia and then prepare for some incredible end-of-day stargazing if staying on Taquile for the night.
2) Stay with a local family
One of the best ways to get off the beaten path is to actually connect and spend quality time with the local people. One of our favorite opportunities to offer travelers visiting Lake Titicaca is that of staying one night with a family on Taquile Island. Alejandro Flores, a native of the island, generously opens up his home, where he, his wife, and their seven children live. Spend the evening learning about him, his family, and life on the island as you enjoy this special experience.
3) Visit the further out Titinos Floating Islands
Another incredible destination to visit from Puno are the Uros Floating Islands. These incredible islands are made by the locals from totora reeds that are taken from the lake, and they are certainly a sight to behold and a must-see spot on Lake Titicaca. There are many of these islands on the lake, and the most visited ones are just off the shore from Puno. Despite being quite populated with groups of visitors, we still recommend seeing these particular ones on your trip as they are so central to life on Lake Titicaca.
In addition to seeing these Uros islands, we also recommend boating to the Titinos floating islands. Further away, the Titinos only get a few small groups of visitors each week (not several large groups daily, like the ones close to Puno). The families on the Titinos islands live on the floating islands, and mostly make their living off the resources the lake provides. It’s truly a treasure to get a window into their lives, and to witness how they have combined the traditions passed down for centuries and modern technology (any electricity on the island is powered by solar panel). They have found a graceful way to embrace their visitors while at the same time continuing to live out the traditions of their ancestors.
4) Stay at Titilaka Lodge
Titilaka Lodge is a luxury lodge located on remote shores of Lake Titicaca. Their more remote location gives them unparalleled access to unique excursions, off-the-beaten-path adventures, and authentic cultural experiences, like visiting a local bartering market (where you’ll likely be the only tourists within miles). Titilaka Lodge is a great place to stay at the end of your Peru trip to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunset over the water, to stargaze as you reflect on your journey, and to really dive into Peruvian culture. For those looking for luxury accommodations, exclusivity, and one-of-a-kind adventures, it’s the ideal base for your Lake Titicaca trip.
Let us know in the comments below about your favorite off-the-beaten-path travel experience!
Interested in learning more ways to make your Lake Titicaca travel experience even more incredible, or curious about other hidden gems in Peru? Give our Peru Trip Specialist, Renee, a call today at 612-315-2894 ext. 105, or email [email protected].
Renee is a Trip Specialist at Knowmad Adventures, a company dedicated to creating unique, private and custom trips in South America. She lived in Mexico for over 3 years and is excited to help Knowmad travelers discover the wonderful impact not just travel, but really experiencing a different country and culture can have on your life. Read Renee’s biography and more about the Knowmad team.