Lake Titicaca, Bolivia & Peru

Lake Locations:

Bolivia - Peru -

Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia is the largest freshwater lake by volume in South America, Lake Titicaca. With an elevation of 12,507 feet, this million year old lake is also one the world’s highest commercially navigable lakes. All along the shores are native villages where traces of their rich Indian past still exist without any interference from the 21st century.

Although the exact meaning or origin of the word Titicaca is not known, it has been translated as meaning “rock puma” because the shape of the lake resembles a puma hunting a rabbit. Incan mythology states Lake Titicaca is the place where the world was created when the Incan god, Viracocha, arose from the lake, created the sun, stars, and first people.

Situated between the mountain ranges of East and West Cordillera in the central Andes Mountains, Lake Titicaca is divided into two basins by the Strait of Tiquina and stays at an almost constant temperature of 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Locals state their home has two climates- chilly and rainy or chilly and dry- with the nights dropping below freezing from June to August. The water levels fluctuate seasonally with the water rising during the rainy season of December to March and gradually receding during the dry winter months of June to August. The land area around the lake is almost treeless but is covered with coarse grasses, fields of potatoes, barley, quinoa, and other local crops. The swampy area that fringes the lake produces totora, a versatile balsa reed that is important to the local way of life of native villages.

The western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region of Peru. The capital of the Puno Region is the town of Puno is which a great place to start your visit of Lake Titicaca. The Spaniards were attracted to the area by its mineral richness and settled in with their own cultural, social, and economic patterns. Priests trying to convert the Inca pagans motivated them to build beautiful churches that you can still tour today. With a wide variety of handicrafts, colorful costumes, holidays, legends, ethnic dances, Puno can be called the folklore center of Peru.

Around Puno, there are over 60 floating villages on the water of Lake Titicaca. The Uros people build islands and houses that float on the water from the totora or reeds that grow around the lake. As the bottom layer of the island decays as it sits in the water, layers are replaced from the top with new reeds. The Uros maintain and live on these man-made islands using the lake and its products for survival. They fish for food from the lake and exchange fish for any products that they need while getting their basic necessities from their environment, even weaving their own clothes from materials from around the area.

In Puno, visitors can rent small motorboats to tour Lake Titicaca for themselves or perhaps spend a day fishing for Karachi, boga, ispi, rainbow trout, brown trout, Orestias, and catfish. Puno also offers vacation rentals from low budget hostels to high end hotels, venues for shopping for native made goods, and eating establishments where one can taste the local cuisine based on fish, potatoes, and quinoa which a popular grain.

The biggest island on Lake Titicaca, Isla de Sol or Island of the Sun, is located on the Bolivian side of the lake and contains over 180 ruins from the Incan period. It is this island that the Incas believe the son and daughter of the sun god Inti lived to improve the lives of their people and founded the Incan Empire.

The eastern side of Lake Titicaca is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department. Copacabana is the main town on this side of the lake and boasts a large 16th century cathedral with its carved wooden figure of the Virgin of Copacabana who is the Christian guardian of the lake. The statue stands facing the lake so she can keep a watchful eye for approaching storms on the lake. Visitors here will find vacation rentals and local eateries in which to enjoy their stay. Tour groups use modern hydrofoils to zip across Lake Titicaca, but for a slower more native trip on the water, try one of the local made reed boats for a lasting memory.

There are many islands to explore while at Lake Titicaca, but the area offers off-water adventures including a world famous ice climbing area. There are many routes for hiking adventures that will give you views of glacial landscapes and mountain ranges, to visiting villages where time has stood still or to a quiet place where you can sit and enjoy nature untouched by man.

Come to one of the highest lakes on the world and stay for the adventure, history, culture, and excitement. Lake Titicaca has been here for over a million years waiting for you to visit. Start planning your trip today.

Things to do at Lake Titicaca

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Hiking
  • Ice Climbing
  • Hunting
  • Ruins
  • Shopping

Fish species found at Lake Titicaca

  • Brown Trout
  • Catfish
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Trout

Lake Titicaca Photo Gallery

Lake Titicaca Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 2,068,480 acres

Shoreline Length: 699 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 12,507 feet

Average Depth: 351 feet

Maximum Depth: 900 feet

Water Volume: 723,148,586 acre-feet

Water Residence Time: 1343 years

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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