Sailing on the Top of the World: Lake Titicaca, Part 1/3

There are some areas of the world almost no one has sailed around, and one of those is Lake Titicaca, a body of water that’s over 930-foot deep and lies two-and-half miles above sea level, right in the middle of South America. It is the highest navigable lake in the world.

What and Where Is Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is a geological wonder that formed during the pre-ice age about sixty million years ago, when massive earthquakes shook the Andes Mountains and split them in two. A hollow formed in the space that was created, and eventually filled up with glacier meltwater. Glaciers still feed into the 3,232 square miles of lake, maintaining it, despite the burning sun, 12,506 feet above sea level.

The lake lies on the south eastern edge of Peru and the western side of Bolivia. The border between the two countries juts right through the middle of the lake.

Ancient Myths and Ruins

The Purakas, the Tiwanakus and the Incas have all populated the area over the centuries, and the lake and its islands played an important role in Inca mythology.

According to an ancient Inca legend, the first Inca, Manco Capac, was born by the lake. And their bearded, white, god-king creator, Viracocha, emerged from the depths of Lake Titicaca. The lake was considered to be the center of the cosmos and the origin of the sun, moon, stars and humankind, which were created from the islands by Viracocha.

And Lake Titicaca certainly has some interesting remains to contemplate. It was first settled in the mid-2nd millennium BCE. There are over 180 Inca ruins on Isla del Sol. Other red sandstone slabs and well-dressed wall stones from 400 BCE-100 CE are left from the settlement at Pucara, to the northwest.

Tiwanaku (or Tiahuanaco), located towards the southeast, became the capital of the extensive Inca empire. It flourished between 200 BCE and 1000 CE. Now, you´ll find the remnants of large walled courts, ceremonial pyramids, massive stone statues and the famous Gateway of the Sun there. At one time, the city could have had a population of 70,000, occupying around 4 square miles.

For more on Titicaca´s treasures and Tristan Jones´ Lake Titicaca tour, check out Part 2!

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