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Set against the high altiplano grasslands of southern Peru, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake, where 19th-century steamships once sailed. According to Inca legends, this sparkling inland body of water is where Manco Capac, the son of the sun god Inti, made his first appearance. Today, the tiny lakefront town of Puno springs to life several times every year for rambunctious festivals of folkloric music and dance with colorful masked parades, marching brass bands, and general revelry. Year-round Puno bursts with artisanal handicraft markets and traditional restaurants where fireplaces blaze at night. Day-trip ...

Set against the high altiplano grasslands of southern Peru, Lake Titicaca is the world's highest navigable lake, where 19th-century steamships once sailed. According to Inca legends, this sparkling inland body of water is where Manco Capac, the son of the sun god Inti, made his first appearance. Today, the tiny lakefront town of Puno springs to life several times every year for rambunctious festivals of folkloric music and dance with colorful masked parades, marching brass bands, and general revelry. Year-round Puno bursts with artisanal handicraft markets and traditional restaurants where fireplaces blaze at night. Day-trip excursions visit archaeological ruins on the surrounding plains, such as the intriguing funerary towers of Sillustani, best seen around sunset. On Lake Titicaca itself, rural villages on remote islands reached by motorboat are strongholds of ancient culture. Many are over-touristed, but an overnight excursion with a local guide can be rewarding. A border-crossing trip to Copacabana, Bolivia, takes independent travelers to the jewel-like Islas del Sol y la Luna. Leaving the lake region en route to Cuzco, bus and train journeys from Juliaca go over literally breathtaking Andean passes.

Sara Benson
About the Expert

Sara Benson was the coordinating author for Lonely Planet's Peru and wrote the Peru chapter for South America on a Shoestring.

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Sara Benson for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Lake Titicaca is a lake located in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It sits 12,500 ft above sea level, making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world.
  • Language: Spanish
  • Currency: Nuevo Sol
  • Research: Wikipedia | Altiplano
  • Weather: Daylight | Rainfall
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    June through August. Also Virgen de Candelaria (early Feb.), Carnaval (Feb./Mar.), and Puno Day (early Nov.)