© iStock/xeni4ka
© iStock/xeni4ka

Titicaca lake, the floating islands and the underwater city

2 minutes to read

At 3812 meters above sea level, lies an enormous navigable lake, higher than any other in the world: the Lake Titicaca, which spreads between Bolivia and Peru.

Titicaca Lake
Titicaca Lake
Lake Titicaca

Copacabana town

From the Bolivian side, the access point to the main attractions of the Lake is the Copacabana town. Even though the town serves more like a port to reach the main attractions, it has an excellent viewpoint called Cerro Calvario.

Cerro Calvario de Copacabana
Cerro Calvario de Copacabana
Cerro El Calvario, Copacabana, Bolivia

Boats depart daily from Copacabana to the sacred islands of Titicaca Lake: the Isla del Sol, the Isla de la Luna, and the Floating Islands.

© iStock/SL_Photography
© iStock/SL_Photography

The Floating Islands

Sailing around 20 minutes from Copacabana town, a completely different kind of islands is found. This time, the islands are not sacred nor permanent; instead, they are manmade!

Floating Islands
Floating Islands

The technique used to build the islands dates back to thousands of years ago, when some minority immigrant groups from the north, arrived at the Lake. They were unable to get their own land since more significant populations dominated the region. At that moment, instead of giving up and leaving Titicaca Lake, they decided to create their own property inside of it.

The islands are made from a plant called "totora". It is so resistant that it was not only used for the islands but also the houses on them and the boats of the indigenous people.

Nowadays, these islands still exist. Some of them can be visited, but others are still the home of entire communities and not that touristic.

© Zoomalmapa/vanesa
© Zoomalmapa/vanesa

Diving into the Lake

Generation after generation, indigenous people shared the story of a lost city laying underwater in Titicaca Lake. Of course, the story sounded like a pure myth for most people. Nevertheless, a group of researchers one day did choose to believe it. That is how, years ago, Atahuallpa 2000 Expedition dived into the Lake to explore it, with a team of 26 national and foreigner explorers and researchers, using high technology.

Underwater they found out that the lost city was not a myth; it was real! A huge ceremonial area, a 700 meters long road, terraces, walls, and various objects of ceramic, gold, and other materials were found as parts of a city lying under Titicaca Lake.

After more years of exploration and findings, the decision to build an underwater museum was taken. The museum, co-funded by the Bolivian government, the UNESCO, and the Belgium Development Cooperation Agency, will have one section on the shore and another beneath the water. It is expected to open in 2020.

© iStock/SL_Photography
© iStock/SL_Photography

Only the view of the immense Lake and the snowy mountains surrounding it make a visit to Titicaca Lake worth experiencing. Anyhow, as if this wasn't enough, the Quechua and Aymara communities welcome the visitors to both, humanmade islands with their colorful and traditional lifestyle. Finally, to put the cherry on top, it is an area filled with archeological sites preserving the history of ancient and mysterious civilizations, full of myths and legends that, in some cases, end up being true.


The author

Vanesa Zegada

Vanesa Zegada

I am Vanesa and I am from Bolivia. I am in love with my homeland. It never stops surprising me, even if I am a local. It is a place full of diversity, traditions, interesting spots that I want to share with you through my stories on itinari.

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