Lake Titicaca is one of the best known and largest lakes in the world and is at the focal point of the origin story of most of the major civilizations to have existed in the region. 

Not only is the lake vital to the understanding of Inca mythology, other civilizations like the Tiwanaku also claimed to have arisen from its waves. 

If you are planning to take a Titicaca retreat, then you will find there are many reasons why it is extremely special and fairly unique. 

The Name ‘Titicaca’ 

The whole shape of the lake is believed to resemble that of the puma. Locals, in particular, tie this into the Inca’s preference of the puma as a spiritual animal. This is also why an entire fortress of Sacsayhuaman is shaped vaguely like a puma’s outstretched body. 

The name of ‘Titicaca’ seems to be derived from the words ‘Titi Khar’ka’ in Aymara which when loosely translated means ‘rock of the puma.’ 

Birthplace Of Ancient Civilizations 

Lake Titicaca encompasses many spiritual viewpoints and beliefs and is called the ‘ birthplace of the Sun.’ The Incas believed that their ancestors had risen out of the magical lake and thus their royalty possessed divine traits. 

Their mythology traced the origins of the sun god Inti to Lake Titicaca, forever rendering the waters to have vast spiritual and creationist powers. 

It started with the creator god Viracocha emerging from these blessed waters and then creating the sun god, the stars and other entities. 

The sun god Inti went on to produce several species of living beings, all of whom turned out to be a disappointment until he made humans. The first race of humans according to the Incas was also barbaric and unaware of godly things and Inti felt the need to make divine beings. 

These divine beings would guide the human race and ultimately teach them about skills such as weaving and growing food. The first two members of this race were called Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. 

The Incas believed themselves to have descended from these divine beings and used this as a basis for establishing the most powerful empire the region had ever seen. 

The Tiwanaku people also had a lot of reverence for the healing waters of Lake Titicaca and it was central to their beliefs as well. 

Home Of The Floating Islands 

Lake Titicaca is also home to the one of a kind floating islands which are made entirely of totora reeds. Tourists from all over the world come to see this man-made wonders, where whole families live and conduct their day to day life. 

The history of these islands with Aymara-speaking people is that they have existed for thousands of years including the time of the Incas. Although the Incas were not particularly interested in fighting the Uros people, these islands did serve the purpose of making access by invaders difficult. 

The Uros people live in houses made from straw or reeds, use stone-based stoves to cook and construct containing walls to keep the children from falling over. 

Other Amazing Islands 

It is not only the floating islands that call Lake Titicaca their home. The lake is home to several large islands which are absolute tourist delights amounting to 41 islands in total. 

Many of the islands like Amantani have a meditation retreat where guests can stay and revive their notion of life and their understanding of nature. 

The biggest island on the lake is called Isla Del Sol, and it is here among other places that various artifacts such as ceramics, pottery, gold and bone fragments have been found. 

Most of the islands in Lake Titicaca were at one point or another occupied by the most powerful civilizations in the region. This over the centuries has rendered Lake Titicaca as a focal point for human settlements. 

In Challapampa which is a town on the Isla Del Sol, two footprints can still be found which the locals attribute to the ancestral beings of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. 

Discovery Of Underwater Ruins 

In the last decade or so there has been the discovery of underwater ruins, with the most important structure being a submerged temple. 

Excavation for other underwater sites is underway and there is great potential for further discovery. The ruins have been linked to the Tiwanaku people that came before the Incas. 

The Tiwanaku were the first civilization in the region to create and design stone structures and monuments and also to carve figures out of stone and gold. 

Ecologically Diverse 

Lake Titicaca may not be as diverse in wildlife as the famous Amazon rainforest, but it still stands out in its own right. 

The lake supports no less than 530 aquatic species of animals as well as numerous types of water birds. The Titicaca water frog is a well-known animal in the area largely due to its endangerment as the ecosystem has been affected with pollution over the decades. 

The fish species that are abundant in Lake Titicaca are specific to the region and are found almost nowhere else. They provide a vital source of food and livelihood to the locals. 

In recent years, environmental protection campaigns have sought to increase awareness about the impact of pollution in Lake Titicaca. Their main argument has been that the lake is the source of income and food for thousands of people, not to mention its position as a major tourist attraction. 

Formed By An Earthquake

The lake has a history which goes back 60 million years to a catastrophic earthquake which hit the Andes Mountains virtually dividing them into two parts. The void which resulted was by then deep enough for a body of water which was provided by melting glaciers. 

Even today the river receives water from no less than 25 rivers and several glaciers. Only one river flows out of Lake Titicaca and it is called Desaguadero and it holds roughly 5% of the water. 

Navigability Of The Lake 

Lake Titicaca is one of most navigable lakes in the world which means that tourists can reach virtually all of its islands fairly easily. 

There is always the option of a life-changing yoga retreat or a silent meditation retreat for a few days out of your Peru trip. 

The locals of most of the islands still follow the same way of life as their ancestors so you can enjoy an authentic cultural experience. 

The waters of Lake Titicaca are surprisingly reflective and deeply blue despite thriving settlements at its shores and its incredible depth of 354 feet. 

Extreme Temperatures 

The lake is found at a considerable altitude and is thus subject to several extremes of temperature throughout the year. However, for many tourists, the weather is part of the appeal. On average the temperature can reach 13 degree Celsius. 

A Natural Reserve 

Lake Titicaca is part of the ‘Titicaca Natural Reserve’ which extends to both the biodiversity of the water as well as life on land. 

The scope of the reserve extends to the protection of local cultures, languages, and ways of life. This is partly why so many of the locals still enjoy and practice the same lifestyles as their ancestors. Part of this is achieved by growing and harvesting their own food. 

Apart from protecting the ecosystem, there is an attempt to encourage thriving tourism while at the same time controlling pollution and promoting environmental conservation.