Titicaca lake image courtsey: members.virtualtourist.com/m/54d1b/1860b7
Un paralleled altitude.
Remote, mysterious, immense,
Titicaca is an extravaganza by name and by nature.
World’s highest navigable lake, four kilometers (12497 feet to be precise) above from sea-level, in the laps of the great Andes Mountains, shared by two nations (Peru and Bolivia), Titicaca is a geological wonder, formed sixty million years back; from the water deposited by 25 incoming rivers which carry the water from melted glaciers of the Andes.
The puma and the rabbit.
It is believed that the name derived from a variety of wild cats that live on the rocky islands of the lake and swim to the mainland during nights in search of food (titi = wild cat (a variety of Puma) + karka = rock, there by meaning Rock- Puma). It may be a strange coincidence that the shape of this giant lake (as revealed by the satellite photographs) has resemblance to a Puma chasing a rabbit. Old tribes without any modern gadgets could not have envisaged the shape of this giant lake; it might be just a coincidence that they named it rock-puma.
And thus a lake was formed.
Lake Titicaca image courtsey: everestnews2004.com
This giant lake is formed when terrible earth quakes of the pre-ice age that shook the Andes Mountain ranges changing its land-scape altogether and forming gaping hollow between the mountain ranges which was longitudinally split in to two, this hollow; as per the geologists, eventually got filled by the water from the melting glaciers creating numerous water bodies. With end of the ice-age the melting of the snow was quickened and all these water bodies grew up to form a single giant lake that is Titicaca.
Vanishes in the thin air!
There are altogether twenty five rivers which end up in Titicaca depositing their waters in to this mega lake but only one to drain it out (River Desaguardero which flows south through Bolivia to lake Poopo). The most interesting thing is that the out going quantity of water through this river is just 5% of the incoming to the lake. Then where does the rest of water go? It is in high altitude, freezing temperature and torrential winds and the hot sun all combine to speed up evaporation process taking away the rest of the incoming (95%) to the air thereby keeping the level of the lake constant.
A real thrill !
Not only in breadth in depth also Titicaca is a giant its average depth is 107 Meters, the deepest part is about 281 Meters! No other lake in the world is as deep and intriguing as Titicaca. Its almost unreachable depths are home to several species of animals and explorers seeking real challenges come to Titicaca in search of real thrill. Jacques Cousteau the great French oceanographer was prominent among adventurers who had a tryst with this great lake’s depths.
Jacques Cousteau – the man of the oceans!
Jacques Cousteau image courtsey: wikipedia.org
Diving to 200 plus meters depths in to a lake with chilling water is no mean thing, Mr. Cousteau - the world famous oceanographer - with all his advanced diving gears could do it – in his under water exploration in this lake, which lasted for more than one and a half months – this big exploration brought out great “treasures” for the scientific community. Animal varieties which were found no where else in the world (like a giant toad 60 centimeters long, grey, yellow or brown in color) was revealed to the world in this “mission impossible”. These animals (millions of them) were able to withstand the tremendous pressure and scarcity of oxygen prevailing in 280 meter deep lake-bed.
Take your oxygen cylinder along with!
Lack of oxygen is not just the condition of the lake-bed, on its shore at a height of about 4 kilometers all who live are equipped with natural evolution to tide over scarcity of this life giving air particle. People from plains feel nausea and headache due lack of atmospheric pressure due to high altitude, even engines work on half their prescribed power. Accident due to fire is such a rarity as fire force is not even heard of until recently!
The natives living here are adapted to this condition by acquiring chests to contain over-sized lungs, more blood in the circulatory system, much more ”red blood corpuscles” in their blood (RBC are the agents which carry oxygen from lungs to various parts of the body) etc. The clear unpolluted sky carries the sun’s ray direct to the earth and these people are un-heard of skin cancer even though they work in the sun for all day as nature has gifted them the power to resist such ailments specific to the conditions prevailing in this location.
Some sweetener in the lake!
Amantani island image courtsey: wikipedia.org
It is a legend that sweetens a culture without them any culture seems dull and dreary; people of the Altiplano (the high-land plains surrounding the lake) have their own sweeteners to their credit. As per the legends during 1230 A.D. the Sun God sent his son (Manco Copac) and daughter (Mamo Ocllo) to rule the entire area. Both of them emerged from the depths of the lake and went to the
“I” for Inca.
When the Spaniards invaded this area in the early sixteenth century the Inca Empire covered the present
Even before Inca!
Even before the establishment of the Inca Empire certain civilizations existed in the area, remains of an ancient city by name
Islands in the lake.
Uros island image courtsey: wikipedia.org
There are about 41 islands in this lake some of them are over populated Isla Dol Sol (Sun Island) is the largest among them several Inca ruins are found on this island and it is believed to be the place of origin of the Inca Empire. Islands Uros is a floating groups of artificial islands (about 43 in number) made of reeds these are major tourist attractions. The lake side city Puno arranges excursions for tourists to these islands. No motor cars, no telephones, no restaurants (only few small shops to cater the base requirements exist) one who wants to escape from the modern-day worries can find no place more ideal than these islands.
Sweet naming artists.
Titikaka Map image courtsey: wikipedia.org
The people of these areas speak a language Aymara which got mixed with Spanish (the official language) They might have been masters in naming things and places, Titicaca itself is just one example, please remember the names of the children of the Sun God in the Inca legend “Manco Copac” and “Mama Occlo” are rare sweet. There are tow mountain peeks “Pacha Mama” (meaning Mother Earth) and “Pacha Tata” (Father Earth). “Isla Dol Sol” (
The local people are superstitious and firmly believe that there are monsters in the lake, though rarely most of them have seen them in the shape of gigantic seals creating monstrous waves and producing loud and fearsome cries. When their whole life is centered with the lake let their beliefs also remain as intact as it was years back!