On the southern border of Peru and the northern border of Bolivia lies a shimmering lake where the Inca Empire was born. Lake Titicaca is a huge lake — in fact, it’s the largest navigable lake in the world at 3,812 m (12,507 ft). No where else can large catamaran ships cross a lake at such high altitude. And no where else can you experience one of the most beautiful landscapes of Peru and Bolivia than on a Lake Titicaca Catamaran Cruise.
Lake Titicaca catamaran cruises are one of the best ways to explore Lake Titicaca and the surrounding regions, departing from either Puno on the Peruvian shore or Copacabana on the Bolivian shore. Take a first-class catamaran across the lake on an afternoon, one day, or two day cruise. Catamarans are outfitted with many amenities including an elegant dining room and bar and viewing decks.
On a Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise, visit several of the islands on the lake, and maybe even spend the night on an island. It is possible to spend the night in a hostel, luxury hotel, or in a home with a local family. On several islands throughout the lake are Quechua-speaking people who fish, farm, and make beautiful textiles. Here are some of the options you can choose from when planning your Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise:
Many travelers to Peru and/or want to visit Lake Titicaca for its beautiful scenery, for its unique indigenous cultures, and the incredible floating islands of Uros, which are entirely handmade from totora reed. The islanders use totora to create boats, houses, and to repair the islands themselves. The islands of Uros are a wonderful opportunity for visitors to visit indigenous people, see their vibrant clothing and weavings from alpaca wool, play with local kids, and see the amazing handiwork of the reed craftsmen.
The islands of Taquille and Amantani are well worth visiting, whether only for an afternoon or overnight. Amantani is a relatively quiet and peaceful place, but every night the locals hold a lively party, complete with music, dancing, costumes, and lots of beer. Visitors who spend the night with a host family are encouraged to dress up in colorful costumes and participate in the dancing.
On the island of Taquille, it’s also possible to spend the night with a host family. The inhabitants have retained much of their distinctive culture, and festivals and cultural events are a common occurrence. Perhaps of all the island inhabitants, the “Taquileños” are most highly regarded for their knitting skill. The men knit intricate woolen caps, vests, and other articles of clothing and decor.
Two other important islands in Lake Titicaca, also worth visiting on your Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise, are the Islands of the Sun and the Moon. On the Isla del Sol, you’ll find a small village, several farms and eco-lodges, and agricultural terraces. Donkeys are the main form of transportation here, milling about with packs of crops, luggage, and other goods with farmers and field hands in tow. There are some walking trails throughout the island, which provide a wonderful opportunity for scenic vistas of the coastline and the blue lake beyond.
On a day trip of the island, the boat will drop you off on one side of the island, and then you have the afternoon to hike along the 10 km walking paths to the other side of the island, where the boat will pick you up. Make sure to see the Temple of the Sun (Templo del Sol), at a height of 3190 meters. Sunsets here are incredible. In fact, sunrises and sunsets on this high-altitude lake are also spectacular — another reason to make sure you spend the night on an island during your Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise.
Also visit the Inti Wata Cultural Complex, where you can board a traditional totora reed vessel for a short boat ride with views of the Pilkokaina Inca Palace. If you spend the night on the Isla del Sol, you can spend the extra day getting to know the Challapampa villagers, who will happily show you their houses, chapel, school, walking trails, museum, and folklore dances.
The Isla de la Luna is slightly smaller than the Isla del Sol, but it offers many of the same attractions as its fellow islands, as well as some unique Inca sites of interest. The Temple of the Moon (Templo de la Luna) is the ruins of an Inca site of worship, complete with relief detail on the walls. Also visit the Iñacuy ruins, including the Ajlla Wasi (House of the Chosen Women), where Inca virgins performed sacrifices and rituals to the Inca gods.
Tiwanaku Ruins Near La Paz, Bolivia
Make sure while in Bolivia to see the Tiwanaku (Tihuanaco) ruins near La Paz, if you are interested in Peruvian history and archaeology. The Tiwanaku were the most powerful pre-Inca culture in Peruvian history. Their legacy is left in the ruins of Tiwanaku, where huge stone structures, gateways, and temple courtyards are still standing after thousands of years. On the Gateway of the Sun, one of the most famous remaining structures, relief iconography is still prominent. The area is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Sillustani Ruins Near Puno, Peru
Also worth visiting while on a Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise is the ruins of Sillustani, stone funerary towers (chullpas) near Puno. These towers were built by the Colla people, who came after the Tiwanaku and before the Inca. The Aymara-speaking people who live in the Lake Titicaca region are descendants of the Colla. From the towers, you have a view of Lake Umayo and the surrounding altiplano.
For hotels in the Lake Titicaca area, we recommend the Casa Andina Private Collection Puno. On the banks of Lake Titicaca lies this excellent 4 star Puno hotel, the Casa Andina Private Collection Puno. There are 46 rooms – many with views of the lake – and a gourmet restaurant, lobby bar, terraces, private pier, oxygen tanks, business center, and more. In-room amenities include wi-fi, telephone, hair dryers, cable TV, climate control, safe boxes, and coffee machine.
Interested in booking a Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise? Speak with one of our expert travel consultants to find out which Lake Titicaca catamaran cruise will work best for you and your travel plans. We can customize any Peru and Bolivia vacation to suit your travel plans! Browse all our Peru and Bolivia tours that include Lake Titicaca here.
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