Posted by: jimndianne | January 10, 2010

Lake Titicaca

27 December 2009 – Bolivia

Lake Titicaca, (meaning Grey Puma), is situated on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It is at an elevation of 3812 metres above sea level, 194 km long, 65 km wide and a max depth of 356m. To give you an idea of its size, there are over 25 rivers which flow into it and only one which exits from it, the Rio Desaguadero. The larger portion of the lake is in Peru, however the part in Bolivia is still a vast body of water. For this day trip to the lake we had Gaby as our driver as Gerhard had other commitments back at the house. Climbing up out of the ‘crater’ area of La Paz once again and manoeuvring our way through the market town of El Alto at the top edge we



we soon found ourselves out in open country. The first photo is of a typical shop with huge bags of popcorn for sale! The next shows typical vendors coming up to the car, ever hopeful of a sale while stopped at traffic lights. The scenery on the Alto Plano (meaning high plains) was of very flat dry plains with a backdrop of snow crusted mountains. We passed lots of livestock including fat pigs, cows sheep, donkeys and many beautiful llamas.



Sunday appeared to be washing day as whenever we  came to a river, clothes, cars and bodies were being given a thorough wash. The bright colours of their clothes really stood out on the stone river banks, where they lay drying.



We noticed numerous churches of a similar design. There is a German priest in the area who is determined to build 90 of these structures and judging by the numbers we had seen so far he is well on the way to achieving his goal!



Stopping at some of the small villages allowed for some great photographic opportunities including a soccer game which included the indigenous Cholita women playing in their long skirts – though they had removed their derby hats. Maybe the challenge of keeping them on whilst running would prove to be too great.



Most small towns have their village squares which usually has a monument or two and of course, small children playing or being with their mums.





At last, after about 1 1/2 hours of driving, we caught our first glimpse of Lake Titicaca across the tundra. We soon came to a small settlement on the edge of the lake and what a treat that was. Here was a boat yard with a difference! The papyrus reed boat which Thor Heyerdahl built in Egypt (named Ra after the Egyptian Sun God), was made out of the same reeds seen here.



These reeds grow in abundance at the edge of the lake – we even found a friendly llama!



The boats they were making were fairly substantial and were of a catamaran style connected with a timber planked floor and seats along each side.



The reeds were about 3-4mm in diameter and tightly packed together and often the prow had a fierce face, no doubt to scare off the ‘evil’ spirits!



Watching one of the cholitas weave a piece of fabric on her loom outside was fascinating! She even took me across to where her petticoats were drying and insisted upon showing me her own five frilly petticoats plus two plain cotton ones under that!



There was some spectacular scenery viewed from high above the lake of its many bays and inlets. We had a splendid lunch of grilled trout (or chicken) and salad with chips, at a pleasant cafe overlooking the lake – total cost for the three of us, including beers, less than $12. A possibly 11 year old boy acted as waiter and did an excellent job!



Our turning around point was here at San Pablo de Tiquina, where there were many small car ferries waiting to cross the small stretch of lake over to the Peruvian side. We could have taken a trip across and thus be in Peru but were told there was heaps of paperwork to fill in and many difficulties to endure so was not worth the effort for such short time that we had.  There were also many cars decorated with floral bouquets showing they have had them blessed by a priest to keep their occupants safe.



A view down the lake showing just how endless it appears! It is the highest navigable lake in the world! The lake originally was at sea level and salt water. Over the many thousands of years the geographical nature of the land had changed and risen at times almost 1 cm per year. It is now 3812 metres above sea level and fresh water.

Originally the land mass of Bolivia extended to the coastline giving them access to the sea. However, during a war with Chile, both Peru and Bolivia lost land and today Bolivia no longer has a coastline. The monument below (right) retells how the Bolivians fought against Chile. They retain the hope of one day regaining the land stolen by Chile. The most important fact of this is that Bolivia lost their valuable access to the coastline and thus the sea.



On our way back to La Paz, we were delighted to come across a musical procession of indigenous folk from a small village, assuming it was some kind of post-Christmas celebration.  What a truly wonderful day we had here at Lake Titicaca.




  1. Hi U2,
    hope you got home safe.Was lovely to have you with us. Send some news!

  2. We expect that this is the final blog of ( part 1 ) of the travels. Nice photos too.

    • No there will be two more posts. Should be up in a day or two

  3. And to think I got a buzz cycling the bush track at Omori/Kuratau along Lake Taupo with son, Damian! Oh, well!

    You have become inveterate bloggers and travelers. Love the photos!

    Have you got your plane, Jim? Someone was buzzing the hill behind us at Kuratau with a serious two metre monoplane the other day and caused us to think of you.



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