37 Terrific Facts About Lake Titicaca: How Much Do You Know About The Highest Navigable Lake In The World?

The Uros floating islands on Lake Titicaca are made by hand and can last for over 30 years.
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Did you know that Peru and Bolivia share an enormous lake?

Lake Titicaca is a spectacular body of water, split almost 50/50 between these two countries. This lake is home to hundreds of rare species, floating islands, and a Lake Titicaca mystery or two as well.

In terms of a holiday, a trip to this lake could be considered more of an adventure! The Lake Titicaca weather is generally very fresh and cool this high above sea level, so its not somewhere to travel to if you are just after some sun. However the views more than make up for the chilly altitude, no matter the weather your Lake Titicaca pictures will be incredible.

Check out these amazing facts about Lake Titicaca and find out all about the highest navigable lake in the world.

If you enjoy these facts about Lake Titicaca, why not continue your journey around South America with some fun facts about Peru and interesting facts about Bolivia?

Interesting Lake Titicaca Facts

Before we look at the geography or wildlife, we have some major Lake Titicaca interesting facts to introduce you to this fascinating stretch of fresh water.

1. Lake Titicaca, or El Lago Titicaca, was formed in a dramatic fashion around 60 million years ago. A huge earthquake hit the Andes Mountains, causing them to split in two and creating a huge hollow. The space filled with water from melting glaciers, creating Lake Titicaca.

2. This lake between Bolivia and Peru has the eastern part of the lake in Bolivia while the western part is the Peruvian side. Approximately 60% of the Lake Titicaca belongs to Peru, with the remaining 40% on the Bolivian side.

3. There are many theories about the lake's name and 'Titicaca' meaning.  The separate terms 'titi' and 'caca' can be translated in a few different ways but the most commonly accepted is that the name derived from the word 'Titi Khar’ka' which means "Mount of the Puma" in a local language.

4. Indigenous people living near and on the lake, say that if you turn a map of Lake Titicaca upside down, you can make out the the shape of a puma hunting a hare or rabbit.

5. Inca legend states that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of the sun and their people. They named it 'the cradle of world'. The Inca civilizations founders, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo were believed to have been born here also, making the lake incredibly sacred.

6. More artifacts of the Inca civilization were revealed in 2000, with the discovery of temple remains far down in the Lake Titicaca depth. More Lake Titicaca ruins have been found on the shore and among the islands.

7. There are many tales of a lost city hidden in the lake, considering that Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America it is not hard to believe that it holds some secrets. In 1966 Argentine divers discovered a paved road similar to the Inca Trail, along with a group of sacred labyrinths. It was suggested that these trails and labyrinths could have been a path to Machu Picchu.

8. If you are fascinated by the Inca, check out a Lake Titicaca map and you will see it is close enough to both Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley to incorporate all of the key sites of the Inca Empire into one truly amazing trip.

9. Lake Titicaca holds national reserve status and is protected by Peruvian law. It became a designated Ramsar Site in 1998, meaning it is a 'wetland of international importance' which is very important in conserving biological diversity, most likely due to the large amount of endemic species found here.

10. Lake Titicaca is currently also one of seven other Peruvian sites on UNESCO’s 'Tentative List'. If the lake is approved, it will be listed an official UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Lake Titicaca is over 60 million years old, created as the result of a huge earthquake.

Lake Titicaca Geography Facts

Between Peru and Bolivia, and surrounded by the most amazing landscape, Lake Titicaca is one of the most unique and interesting locations in the world.

11. Lake Titicaca is South America's largest lake, covering an area of 21,726 square miles.

12. Sitting at just over 12 500 feet above sea level, Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world. This means it is the highest lake that boats are still able to navigate.

13. The elevation of Lake Titicaca is mostly impressive because of the size of the lake. There are smaller bodies of water at higher elevations than 12 500 feet, but they are too small to be sailed on by commercial craft.

14. The largest vessel to cross Lake Titicaca was the 2,435 ton SS Ollanta, a steamship built in England in 1931. Currently the largest vessel in use on the lake is a huge train barge named Manco Capac.

15. Due to the extremely high altitude of Lake Titicaca, it is importance to acclimatize at the slightly lower elevations if you were to visit, to avoid getting sick!

16. At its widest point, the lake measures 190 km, while at its narrowest it measures 80 km.

17. The maximum depth of Lake Titicaca is 283 meters (almost 1,000 feet!), while its average all over depth is 107 meters (350 feet).

18. When looking at Lake Titicaca on a map, it actually looks almost like two separate lakes, one large and one much smaller. However a thin strip of water connects them, called the Strait of Tiquina. At its narrowest point it measures 2,620 feet (800 m).

19. Lake Titicaca Peru or Lake Titicaca Bolivia? If you were to adventure to South America to visit this magnificent lake, you have many options on how to find your way there due to the Lake Titicaca location. Copacabana on the Bolivian side is a tourist hot spot, and is also easy to travel directly to the famous Isla del Sol from. If you visit the lake via Peru, you will be in the right place to reach the Uros islands.

20. Lake Titicaca is fed into from over 25 rivers and many glaciers. Just one small river,the Desaguadero drains the lake at the southern end. Only five percent of the lake's excess water is released through drainage, the other 95% is lost through evaporation.

21. The surrounding area of Lake Titicaca experiences cold temperatures for the majority of the year, this contributes to the lake's average temperature of just 11°C (51.8°F)! The weather in Lake Titicaca varies, although the climate is borderline subtropical it tends to feel very cool.

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world.

Lake Titicaca Wildlife Facts

The Titicaca lake is home to an astounding amount of wildlife, some of which is not found anywhere else.

22. More than 530 species of water animals call Lake Titicaca home. Including 26 different species of fish.

23. The Lake Titicaca fish population is made up primarily of killifish and catfish. In 1939 trout were introduced into the lake, they have flourished and are a main source of income and food for local people.

24. Lake Titicaca is home to the telmatobius culeus, or giant frog, these frogs are exclusively aquatic and can be found at depths of up to 100 meters. These creatures can measure up to 14.5cm, which is big enough however Jacques Cousteau the French explorer, claimed to have come across a giant frog measuring 50cm in the '70s!

25. Around 90% of the fish of Lake Titicaca are endemic species, meaning they are not found anywhere else in the world.

26. Lake Titicaca is also home to 24 species of freshwater snails, 15 of which are endemics.

27. There have been rumors over the years that seahorses have been found in Lake Titicaca. This was highly questionable as the lake is freshwater, and seahorses only live in saltwater. There are many myths surrounding this body of water and it seems that the Lake Titicaca seahorses were one of them!

28. No seahorses, so how about Lake Titicaca sharks?  The remains of a 400 million year old ancient shark were discovered very near to Lake Titicaca by students of the State University of Puno. The discovery of this fossil created speculation of freshwater sharks living in Lake Titicaca, but there has been no further evidence.

Facts About The Islands Of Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is famous for its many islands, perhaps the most fascinating are the floating islands, literally built from reeds, and lasting for up to 30 years.

29. There are 41 islands on Lake Titicaca.

30. The major islands are, Amantani and Taquile which fall in the Peru side of the lake, and Isla del Sol, Isla de la Luna, and Suriki, on the Bolivian side of the lake.

31. Isla del Sol, or 'Island of the Sun' is the largest island on Lake Titicaca. There are roughly 180 Inca ruins here!

32. Isla del Sol is popular with tourists, largely because of its deep connections with the Inca civilization. On the northern side of the island Cha’llapampa is home to most of the Inca ruins.

33. The Peruvian side of the lake is also home to the famous floating islands. These incredible islands are created and maintained by the Uros tribe, and are known as the Uros Islands.

34. The Uros tribe pre-dates the Inca civilization. Legend states that the Uros people moved to Lake Titicaca from the Amazon river area. The local people refused them any land to live on, so they built their own islands!

35. These islands are made of totora, which is a thick reed abundant in Lake Titicaca. The islands are created by bending the reeds over as they grow and regularly stacking more reeds onto the top layer as it rots down. Walking on the surface of these islands has been compared to walking on a waterbed.

36. Uros islands are generally around 50 by 50 feet in size. The groups of people living together on each island are usually family and each island has a few houses and other structures upon it.

37. There are around 80 of these floating Uros islands, the majority are in the west of the lake, near Puno, Peru. This large port town allows visitors easy access to the islands, and creates a great extra stream of income for the Uros people.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully curated lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our Lake Titicaca facts, then why not take a look at some Chichen Itza facts or Costa Rica facts?

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