Is Lake Titicaca worth visiting?

Is Lake Titicaca worth visiting?

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Lake Titicaca’s azure blue waters framed by the snow-capped Andes are a sight to behold. Imagine yourself spending time on the floating islands of Ancient Lake Titicaca and mingling with locals who get to call this place home. Once you spend time here, you will understand why it’s called one of the most beautiful places to visit in South America.

Where is Lake Titicaca?

Shared by Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca’s elevation of 3,812 meters (12,500 feet) is the highest navigable lake in the world. It’s the largest freshwater lake in South America and is fed by rain and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras that abut the Altiplano.

If you are wondering whether Lake Titicaca is worth visiting, this article will help you figure out whether you should add it to your South America itinerary.

What does the name of Lake Titicaca mean?

Lake Titicaca pronunciation: Layk-ti-tee-kaa-kaa

The origin of the name Titicaca still needs to be discovered. However, it has been translated to “Rock Puma” due to its shape that resembles a Puma hunting a rabbit.

Puno Lago Titicaca consists of more than 120 floating islands artificial from bundles of dried totora reeds. These islands are built around the shores of an internal lake, connected by narrow, shallow canals and reached only by Uros reed boats and rowboats. 

Lake Titicaca Elevation

With Lake Titicaca’s altitude sitting at 3812 meters (12,507 feet), it is advisable to acclimatize. The closest cities to lake Titicaca are Puno in Peru and Copacabana in Bolivia. Unfortunately, Puno’s altitude is 3 827m, and Copacabana’s is 3,841 meters (12,602 feet), which means it’s best to visit spend time Arequipa or Cusco to acclimatize before making your way here.

Lake Titicaca Altitude Sickness

High Altitude sickness is a severe condition that affects many people every day, causing Hypoxia due to reduced oxygen. To avoid getting hypoxia on your Lake Titicaca voyage, take the necessary precautions like drinking plenty of water and taking time to acclimatize.

Always watch your bags and belongings, especially when traveling long distances. Don’t flash around expensive items like jewelry, electronic items, and money on your Lake Titicaca tour. Use your common sense to avoid being a victim of pickpocketing or scams.

Lake Titicaca Facts

  • The Uros Islands are home to a unique indigenous population of about 2,000 Uros who live isolated on the floating Islands of Lake Titicaca. 
  • During the 16th century, the remote islands of Amantani and Taquile islands were used as high-security prisons. 
  • The indigenous people of Bolivia consist of the Uru-Chipaya, the Uru Murato, and the Uru-Iruito, who inhabits Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side.

Titicaca National Reservation 

The primary purpose of the Titicaca National Park reserve is to preserve the landscapes and ecosystems. Titicaca National Reservation consists of about 60 species of aquatic birds, 18 amphibian species, and a variety of fish species.

Visiting the floating islands of Uros

The floating islands of Uros is one of the most popular attraction on Lake Titicaca, and you can easily book a tour in Puno. However, many visitors report that the place has become a tourist trap, as local people who traditionally lived off fishing, now found out that they can make money off tourists.

Still, a visit to the floating islands of Uros is a popular option for those travelers who have little time, and want to get a basic introduction to Lake Titicaca when staying on the Peruvian side.

Best tours of Uros floating islands

Amantani Island 

Amanati island is a perfect alternative to the floating islands of Uros, as it offers a more authentic experience. The island is home to Pacha Mama and Pacha Papa, two historic sites that have a special meaning to local people.


Many tours include a stay on the Amanati Island offered by a local host and offers an opportunity to try some traditional food from the region.

Lake Titicaca weather

With a borderline subtropical highland climate, one can expect primarily cold temperatures on Lake Titicaca tours throughout the year. Winters are dry, with freezing temperatures throughout the night but getting warmer later in the day. 

When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Titicaca?

Unless you plan to visit the Candelaria Celebration in Puno, tour Lake Titicaca during the dry season to enjoy clear skies and plenty of sunshine. The Puno region has two seasons, the wet and dry seasons. With bright blue skies and sunny days between April and October, one can expect a lower chance of rain. The nights, however, are always cold due to Lake Titicaca’s altitude.

Best Things to do in Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world located between Peru and Bolivia.

1. Book one of the Lake Titicaca Tours 

Book a Lake Titicaca tour to experience the life and traditions of Uros. During a full-day Lake Titicaca Tour, members from the community will take you around the island. They will explain how they build floating islands using growing reeds and take you on their reed boats. You’ll also get to see their handicrafts and can buy some souvenirs. 

A Lake Titicaca Homestay is one of the best ways to experience the Uros culture. During a homestay, you’ll overnight on one of the floating reed Islands, which promises a unique experience. 

2. Explore the Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca

The central Islands are Taquile, Amantani on the Peruvian side and Isla del Sol, Isla de la Luna, and Suriki on the Bolivian side.  

3. Visit Taquile Island 

Isla Taquile is located 45 km off the coast of Puno on the Peru side of Lake Titicaca. With the highest point of 4,050 meters, the island is home to about 2,000 Quechua population, mainly fishermen, farmers, and weavers.


Attracting many tourists, the island is known for its high-quality handwoven products. Besides the picturesque views of the Lake, one can visit the sandy beach and historical sites, such as the Mulsina Pata viewing point.

Mountain biking is a fun way of exploring the island. For a complete adventure, book a sea Kayaking Lake Titicaca tour.

4. Amantani Island 

The Island of Amantani is 40 km from Puno, only a few kilometers North of Tequila, and the least visited island. Amantani Lake Titicaca Tours include a homestay where one can glimpse the inhabitants’ personal lives.

Among the most famous ruins on the island among the best-known ruins on the island are Pachamama (Mother Earth) and also Pachapapa (Father Earth). 

The island offers schools, a health clinic, and stores selling essentials. A generator provides electricity for a couple of hours each day.

Isla Del Sol is one of the largest islands situated on the Bolivian side, providing Lake Titicaca tour boat trips to the town of Copacabana. 

5. Luquina Island

The charming town of Luquina lies on a pristine corner of Puno and is a 2,5-hour motorboat trip. Peaceful Luquina is a charming town with scenic views of Lake Titicaca. 

Overnight on the island in one of the tiny picturesque casitas overlooking the lake. Take a hike up one of the hills to watch a breathtaking sunset.

Treat yourself to a tasty meal of grilled Trout with rice and salad made from fresh produce at one of the local restaurants. 

Best places to visit around Lake Titicaca

1. Puno City

The city of Puno is an excellent place where to start your Lake Titicaca tour. But is Puno Peru worth visiting? With its 130,000 inhabitants, Puno is known for the following attractions:

  • The Andeon Baroque-style Cathedral is found in the town’s main square.
  • A sacred image of the Virgin of Candelaria inside the main Altar in Puno. The veneration of the Virgin of Candelaria is a fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices. 
  • The Biggest festivity in Peru is the “Mamacha Candelaria”. Puno, known as the Altiplano folkloric Capital, is celebrated with traditional music and dances in bright-colored costumes and fireworks. Every day during the first two weeks in February, more than 40,000 dancers and 9,000 musicians participate in the celebration associated with “Pacha-Mama”, also known as mother earth.

2. Juliaca

Located 45 km northwest of Lake Titicaca, the transit hub of Juliaca is the largest city on the Altiplano. Juliaca sits at 3 825 meters above sea level and, with its 276,110 inhabitants, is the largest trade center in the Puno region.  

Best things to do and see in Juliaca

  • Galería Artesanal Las Calceteras market is where one will find a variety of handicrafts and quality wool products. 
  • The ruins of Sillustani, a funeral tower complex where dignitaries were buried on the hills of the LagoUmayo peninsula and constructed of large boulders with some as high as 12 meters.
  • The Plaza for Templo de la Merced church and Iglesia Matriz de Santa Catalina church.

How to get to Lake Titicaca

You can reach Titicaca by bus from Puno and Cusco. Another option is to purchase a guided tour or rent a car.

Lima to Lake Titicaca

Lima is the capital of Peru, and the largest city in the country. While it’s possible to visit Lake Titicaca from Lima, it’s the longest and most expensive trip, so it’s best to make a stop in Cusco before continuing to Lake Titicaca.

Buses from Lima to Lake Titicaca

Although Peruhop busses from Lima to Lake Titicaca is a direct journey, it’s a long journey that takes about 21 hours. Peru Hop’s long passes allow one to hop on and off throughout Peru. These extra stops are accessible on PeruHop trips from Lima to Lake Titicaca and are an excellent opportunity to explore more of Peru’s hidden gems.

Other Peru gems are accessible from the Peru Hop trip from Lima to Lake Titicaca, such as the secret slave tunnels at Hacienda San Jose and the Nazca lines viewing tower.

Lima to Lake Titicaca by plane

The best and fastest option to travel from Lima to Lake Titicaca is by plane. Flights from Lima to Juliaca take about 1 hour and 40 minutes. Juliaca is the capital of San Román Province, located in the Puno Region of South Eastern Peru.

Puno to Lake Titicaca

Peruways offer an easy and fast way to visit the Titicaca lake islands from Puno. Popular Peruways provide road transport from central Puno. Afterward, visitors transfer to the Uros floating islands by ferry or on a Lake Titicaca tour.

Cusco to Puno

Andean Explorer Cusco to Puno Train

Although trains from Cusco to Lake Titicaca take the longest, it promises an unforgettable journey. Crossing the Peruvian Andes, these train journeys are known as South America’s most scenic train rides. Altogether, one of the Top 10 Train rides in the World. 

PeruRail Titicaca Train

Traveling by PeruRail Titicaca train is the most luxurious way; one gets entertained by live music, folklore shows, and excellent food while passing through spectacular landscapes.

The train stops at 4 335 m on the La Raya pass during the scenic ride. The train journey by Train to Lake Titicaca is 10,5 hours.

Cusco to Puno flight

Although the Julianca Cusco flights from Cusco to Puno are not the most popular, it is much cheaper than taking the train. The closest airport is in Juliaca, an hour’s drive from Puno. A flight from Cusco to Juliaca takes about 1 hour with Avianca, Viva Air, or LATAM Airlines. 

Cusco to Lake Titicaca by Bus

Although the bus to Puno from Cusco is the cheapest transport to Lake Titicaca, it can be the most inconvenient way of traveling. 

Should you decide on a Cusco to Lake Titicaca Bus, you should choose a more expensive bus companies like Turismomer to ensure a more pleasurable ride, as they offer more amenities.

Turismo is a comfortable way of traveling by bus from Cusco to Puno, taking about 7 hours. Besides that, the Turismo bus Company boasts the most entertaining and safe ride along the Sun’s Route.

Cusco to Juliaca bus

The Juliaca Cusco bus is an affordable option for those who want to explore Juliaca city. Transportes Libertad also boasts about their 6-hour bus ride from Juliaca to Cusco. 

Renting a car for your trip to Lake Titicaca

While driving a car to Lake Titicaca is an option, but you need a fair share of adventure spirit.The roads in the Altiplano region can be rough and hard to navigate, so you should be prepared to find your way around with minimal directions. However, renting a car is always a good idea if you like to explore more of the region, and not rely on guided tours and public transportation.

How to get from Juliaca Airport to Puno?

There is no direct connection from Juliaca Airport (JUL) to Puno. You can take a taxi to Puno or travel to Puno by bus. 

Is Lake Titicaca worth visiting: FAQ’s

How much time do I need in Lake Titicaca?

You need about 2-3 in Lake Titicaca or possibly more if you want to explore the surrounding areas. If you only have one day in Lake Titicaca, you will not have a lot of time, and most likely see only the main highlights like the floating islands of the Uros.

Is Puno Peru worth visiting?

Puno is the gateway to the floating island of the Uros, however, it also offers many other highlights including the colonial cathedral of Puno, Jiron De Lima Street, where you can find restaurants, cafes and souvenirs vendors; and the ancient Sillustani Cemetery.

Should I visit the Peruvian or Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca?

Most people who visit Lake Titicaca, head to the Peruvian side, as Peru is more touristy than Bolivia thanks to Machu Picchu and a handful of other famous landmarks. Yet, the Bolivian side offers a more authentic experience, as it sees fewer visitors and feels more tranquil.

Best tours of Lake Titicaca from La Paz, Bolivia

Best Hotels in Lake Titicaca

  • Titilaka Lodge is one of the best hotels on the banks of Lake Titicaca. The 5-star Titilaka luxury hotel is high up in the Peruvian Alto. Prime resorts, like Titilaka, include a variety of excursions and activities. 
  • Casa Andina Premium Puno is a 15-minute drive from Puno to Lake Titicaca. The Lake offers rooms overlooking the Lake and lake excursions. 
  • The Casa Andina Standard Puno located only 500 meters from the main square in Puno, is a no-frill 3-star hotel offering professional services. 

So is Lake Titicaca worth visiting?

Lake Titicaca is one of the best places to visit in South America for the adventurous traveler. Located along the border of Peru and Bolivia, this natural attraction is home to many indigenous communities and some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Andes.

Whether you decide to visit Lake Titicaca by guided tour, public bus, or car rental, you will have a fantastic time in this gorgeous place.

This guest post contributed by Mimmie, adventure traveler and owner of