October 26, 2007

Titicaca

We have now reached the Titicaca Lake. Only two South American episodes left… then back to Paris. (I’m sorry, but this will be a bit long; there is so much to tell about this Lake.)

Titicaca, at some 3800 meters altitude (12500 ft) is the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest in South America. There is a great number of arriving rivers, but only one major departing river, taking care of only 5 or 10% of the lake’s water balance, the rest is handled by evaporation. The water is actually slightly salty, about 1%. The level changes somewhat according to the seasons and there is also a small tide. The shores and the lake are split between Peru and Bolivia. There are more than 40 islands, some of which are inhabited. As a curiosity: Bolivia has no access to the Sea, but has a Navy, based on the Lake.

The legend says that not only the first Incas, Manco Capac and his sister Mama Ocllo emerged from the lake, but also the sun! Already before the Incas, the lake was “holy”, inhabited by Aymara Indians. Today part of the population speaks Aymara, part speaks Quechua, the Inca language. Titicaca means the “Rock of the Puma” in Aymara language.

It was said that the Inca treasure was hidden in the Lake. J-Y Cousteau spent eight weeks with his submarine, but found nothing but a new frog specie.

I spent two days on the Lake, its shores and some of its islands.

The islands which are the easiest to reach when you are based in Puno (arrival point of the train from Cusco) are the famous Uros artificial islands made of floating reeds. They are populated by some 2000 people - meaning a lot of intermarriages -, living on fishing, bird hunting and eggs and today on tourism. As the bottom of the islands decay, they put new reeds on top, but after some ten years they have to construct a new island. Their “houses” are very simple (see one of the photos) and there are no commodities… however some of them have invested in solar panels and can have some temporary access to light, television…

Some three hours navigation in a small boat allows you to reach the Taquile Island. The island, with a population of some 3500, is self governed (you can see the “government” having their weekly meeting on one of the photos) – they try to avoid their way of living to be too destroyed by tourism. One particularity is that only men have the right to knit. The handicraft they produce is slightly different from what you find elsewhere and is really beautiful.

On the way back to Puno, the engine of the boat gave up and we were seriously delayed before another boat came to tow us ashore.

The following day, I went by a small bus along the shore and we crossed the border to Bolivia (the arch you can see on one photo below). We arrived at Copacabana. I learnt that the name is Quechua (Inca) and should mean “Looking out on the blue” or something similar. The more famous Copacabana actually got its name from this place, which has a very modest beach compared to the Rio version.

From there we left by catamaran to Isla del Sol (Sun Island), another fantastic (Bolivian) island. We fed some friendly (but spitting) llamas and alpacas, got a blessing from the local island governor (I’m sitting with him and a young girl on one of the photos), got an opportunity to (try to) row a boat made of reed… and left again with the catamaran for the Bolivian shore, from where we took a bus in the direction of La Paz.

One last detail: On the lake I looked up on the sun and found that it was surrounded by a rain bow… or do you say circle? This lasted for half an hour.
Added 27/10:
Isabella kindly advised that this rare phenomenon is called an icebow!

Once more, I suggest you go to my photo blog to see the photos in full size.
... and now I will give you and myself a break until Monday; nice weekend to you all!

46 comments:

lyliane said...

Ce fameux lac dont le nom nous faisait tant rire à l'école. Mais je vais sur ton autre blog voir les photos en grand.

lyliane said...

coucou c'est encore moi! JJ avait raison,je suis attachiante..Ce soleil dans le lac me fait penser à un oeil qui a la catarate. Les bateaux sont merveilleusement tressés, quel travail!Ce sont les hauts sommets enneigès de la Cordillière des Andes que l'on voit dans le lointain? Que c'est beau, tout est beau, je n'ai pas besoin d'aller dormir pour rêver.Vivement lundi pour d'autres merveilles.

Peter said...

lyliane:
Oui, il s'agit bien de la Cordillière, coté bolivien. Les sommets sont à presque 7000 m!

USAincognito said...

Beautiful lake and thank you for sharing a bit of its history. :) I am so envious that you are able to travel to all these places!!!

Drama Div@ said...

Thanks for the update!! and nice pixxies by the way but i guess you already know that you are a very good photographer.... :P

Ash said...

Beautiful images and interesting history. The circular rainbow looks cool!

Keshi said...

Its an AMAZING place!

Keshi.

richard said...

I can't attempt a scientific explanation of the halo round the sun, but possibly it has something to do with the fact that you are half way to outer space

hpy said...

Bravo!

Shionge said...

Looks like this place is bustling with lots of activities and what a beautiful place.

You have a nice weekend too and hey appreciate your effort in posting too Peter :D

Cergie said...

Toi aussi tu as rencontré des "notables" durant ton séjour...
encore et toujours des choses à commenter ici. D'abord ta photo du haut : le toit du ciel j'avais donc raison. Les nuages sont en dessous
En ce qui concerne l'arc en ciel, le fixer ainsi, t'as pas eu peur pour tes yeux bleus fragiles ni pour la lentille de ton APN ?
Les déplacements en bateaux avec leurs aléas te donne aussi une autre mesure du temps. Cela me rappelle lorsque nous déplacions sur le lac de Constance en ferry. [Lac surroundé par plusieurs nations (Autriche, Allemagne, Suisse)]

Pour conclure, bon week-end (tu es passé chez moi juste qd je publiais aujourd'hui alors tu n'as pas vu mon message. Y a pas que moi qui commente qd c'est pas fini. Et puis arrête de commencer ta journée en pensant à qqn qui habite un pays sans mer avec lac et de bons marins. Je vais finir par être jalouse...
Pour vraiment conclure cette fois : tu peux encore nous faire des tas de posts comme celui là. En réalité je suis plus dépaysée depuis ton retour qu'avant ton départ....

Cergie said...

J'oubliais, ton trajet, on dirait une balle de billard qui ricoche...

Delphinium said...

bonjour mon peter à moi et pas à cergie. :-))) non je rigole bien sûr, peter est l'homme de toutes ces gentes dames qui viennent ici mettre des commentaires et se régaler de ces belles photos. Comme Lyliane, je me rappelle que ce nom de lac nous faisait rire aux éclats et je crois que c'est toujours un peu le cas. Comme dit cergie, nous n'avons pas de mer mais nous avons une marine suisse. Et surtout de très bons barreurs puisque Alinghi a remporté la coupe de l'America. :-) Votre blog est une enchantement pour nos yeux ces jours-ci. Vraiment. J'aime bien la photo du lama, il a l'air tout étonné de vous voir. Il a dû se dire, mais qu'est-ce qu'un Suédois parisien vient faire par ici? Et je suis contente aussi parce qu'il y a une photo avec les montagnes enneigées. Que de beautés dans notre monde... Je vous embrasse cher peter et merci pour ce très très beau partage

Peter said...

usaincognito:
It's not nice to be envious, but somehow I understand...

drama div@:
Thanks for appreciating my photos! I try to get good, or at least better!

ash:
Thanks for your cool comments!

Peter said...

keshi:
It IS!

richard:
Thanks for the probable explanation. Some people around the lake had already seen it before, some not! I think anyhow that it must be rather exceptional.

hpy:
Thanks! Short and clear as comment!

Peter said...

shionge:
Thanks and nice weekend also to you!

cergie:
Pour l'arc en ciel, je trouvais ça tellement exceptionel qu'il fallait bien prendre quelques risques!
... et pas de jalousie! Je vous aime toutes (si ça vous intéresse)!

delphinium:
Merci pour tout ça et pour tous les commentaires en général! Un bon weekend... avec un bon repas de gibier!

oldmanlincoln said...

A Navy whose base is the lake was a revealing statistic. I had never heard of that before and I suspect it might be more common than I realize.

These are marvelous photographs.

April said...

Thank you for this wonderful and very informative travel report. I wish it wouldn't end. Great photos, too, the best perhaps the lake with the phantastic reflection.

alice said...

Peter, if you've read "Kon Tiki Ekspedisjonen", maybe these boats remind you of several things. Very interesting today, as usual.

le lama de peter said...

Ah peter, il paraît que Delphinium a un renne, j'aimerais bien lui serrer la patte.

Peter said...

oldmanlincoln:
We already know that Switerland also has a navy - and good navigators (or at least sponsors for the America Cup)!

april:
Thanks for being a regular commentator here!

alice:
Yes I have read the Kon Tiki book (long time ago) and know about the theory of a link between South America and Polynesia. However, I believe Kon Tiki was built in balsa.

Peter said...

le lama de peter:
On va essayer d'organiser un rencontre - ici ou en Suisse - au plus vite. Il semble pourtant que la maitresse du renne n'est pas disponible avant l'année prochaine. Un peu de patience!

Cuckoo said...

Awwwww the 1st picture is soooooo beautiful !!

And the boats are so unusually shaped. The circular rainbow looks cool. ;)

isabella said...

Very unusual icebow around the sun...
The photos are spectacular, Peter! And have you spotted any pumas around Lake Titicaca? I had a close encounter with one of them in my community (we call them Florida panthers)!

Annie said...

Ah, the pleasures and distresses of travel are altogether in this post today. Your photos, though, are all pleasure for me to see.

Neva said...

These are great photos.. Lake Titicaca ...what a great lake!! Thanks for sharing!

Glenn Standish said...

Wow! Some amazing imagery work here Peter! Well done!

Peter said...

cuckoo:
Thanks! See following remarks from Isabella; it's probably even ice cold!

isabella:
Sincere thanks for advicing about the "icebow". (I made a small addendum on the post.) You learn something every day.
No, I saw pumas only as statues, -unfortunately. Maybe I have to go back to US to see some!

annie:
Much more pleasure than distress!

Peter said...

neva:
The real pleasure is of course to share!

glenn:
Thanks for the wow!

Nihal said...

It is such a delightful ''virtual'' travel with you into the new destinations where I've not been yet:) Spectacular photos add a big value for your write-ups and I am grateful to you! BTW, I liked your offer being my ''distant sponsor'', so cool indeed:) What is I need to do is to be able to find a real ''close sponsor'':) Icebow? I hear such a thing for the first time here. My thanks to Isabella for her kind advice. Your journal is like a ''School'' for me, and I think life waiting me to learn more things, more... Have a nice Sunday&blessings.

Nihal said...

Right now I'm back here after visiting another blog. Great! All of those traditional customes, hints from their life styles, the men in show ... all is a part of their rich culture. Very impressive, and LOVED these people' photos. No need for more to read actually, but they just speak in action:) Have a nice weekend.

JoAnn - NL "My digital eyes" :) said...

Hi peter,
Still publicing aboaut you travelling, its lovely right?
Yes there's so much you saw!!! I love reading all your information, so inspiring... thanks for sharing!!!

I am also interested in the INCA's indian, we saw many indian when we were travelling in Venezula, did you met indians from closeby?

Have great weekend , watch my art-cows from Italy, enjoy your free days!!

JoAnn :)

richard said...

My comment about the halo thingy was humerous, but now I have to get serious and say that Switzerland does not have a Navy in the conventional sense, and that references to the "Swiss Navy" are generally ironic. Nations that do have navies can be easily recognised by their past history of colonisation and brutalisation of far-off places only reachable by boats

GMG said...

Great place and fabulous post! Amazing pictures with the Island's authorities... Probably they where not using 21st century concepts to analyse the situation in the 14th through 18th centuries! And the halo picture is fantastic. Have a great weekend!

Kate said...

A stunning lake; great accompanying photos.

ruth said...

When you visit a place, you really do it right. Thanks for sharing so well.

MONA said...

Once again your blog is a wonderworld to see!

South America has always been such a mystery to me! I see there are so many beautiful places there to see.

The reed boat is awesome & so is the little hut!

The Ice bow is spectacular!

Chuckeroon said...

That FLAT lake horizon!!! And it has a tide! And J-Y Cousteau found no more than a new frog!

Up to your usual standard.

Matritensis said...

As always a very interesting post and nice pictures.

Sonia said...

Great reportage, Peter! Love all photos, but love specially your photo! What a wonderful view!

Peter said...

nihal:
Thanks for the long and positive comments!

joann:
The original Indian population of Peru when the Spaniards arrived was perhaps 10 millon. A century later 90% had been eliminated! Today's rough estimates indicate 45% Indians, 40% mestizos, 10% "white" ans 5% "black".

richard:
Thanks for all these precisions. Fortunately Isabella was there to tell us about the halo / icebow! The Swiss and the Colombian Navies must be of about the same importance! Yes, difficult to invade other countries from the Leman Lake!

Peter said...

gmg:
Yes, the self ruling seems to work and I guess based on very old customs and rules!

kate, ruth, mona..:
Thanks!

chuckeroon:
... but it was a very surprising and big frog (60 cm), living under water...

Peter said...

metritensis, sonia:
Thanks!

Zhang said...

Tu es en train de rêver, au lieu de ramer. Pourtant, tu ressembles bien à un vrai rameur avec tes beaux habits!

Peter said...

zhang:
... mais les habits ne font pas...

hpy said...

... un moine.