PUNO AND LAKE TITICACA
Puno is a city in southeastern Peru, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It is the capital city of the Puno Region and the Puno Province with a population of approximately 149,064 (2014 estimate). The city was established in 1668 by viceroy Pedro Antonio Fernández de Castro as capital of the province of Paucarcolla with the name San Juan Bautista de Puno. The name was later changed to San Carlos de Puno, in honor of king Charles II of Spain. Puno has several churches dating back from the colonial period; they were built to service the Spanish population and evangelize the natives.
Puno is an important agricultural and livestock region; important livestock are llamas and alpacas, which graze on its immense plateaus and plains. Much of the city economy relies on the black market, fueled by cheap goods smuggled in from Bolivia. Puno is served by the Inca Manco Capac International Airport in nearby Juliaca.
Puno is situated between the shores of Lake Titicaca and the mountains surrounding the city. There is less than two miles of flat land between the shores and the foothills, which has caused the growing city to continue to expand upwards onto the hillsides. As a result, the town’s less developed and poorest areas, which are high on the hillsides, often have very steep streets, which are generally unpaved and cannot be accessed by automobile.
Up one of these streets is the Kuntur Wasi viewpoint, which has a large metal sculpture of a condor. There are some 700 steps to climb to reach the sculpture, but the view across the city and Lake Titicaca beyond is breathtaking.
During the celebrations of the Feast of the “Virgen de la Candelaria” and the Regional Competition of Autochthonous Dances. Puno’s access to Lake Titicaca is surrounded by 41 floating islands. To this day, the Uros people maintain and live on these man-made islands, depending on the lake for their survival, and are a large tourist destination. Dragon Boat racing, an old tradition in Puno, is a very popular activity amongst tourists.
Puno is the first major hub in the constant migration of indigenous peoples of the Andes to the larger cities of Peru. It is the largest city in the Southern Altiplano and is the recipient of new residents from surrounding smaller agricultural communities of people seeking better opportunities for education and employment. As such, Puno is served by several small Institutes of Technology, Education and other technical or junior college-type facilities. Additionally it is home to what is commonly referred to as the “UNA” or the Universidad Nacional del Altiplano, which was founded in 1856
Puno features a subtropical highland climate.
As Puno is located at such a high elevation, it experiences more extreme weather conditions than would be expected for its tropical latitude. The average annual temperature is about 8.4 °C, and the weather never gets overly warm. During the winter months from June to August, night-time temperatures usually drop well below 0 °C. At this high altitude, the rays of the sun are very strong. Most of the annual precipitation falls during the southern hemisphere summer, with the winter months being very dry.
Music and dance are typical parts of the Puno folklore. The most important dances are the Wifala de Asillo, the Ichu Carnival, the Tuntuna, the Khashua de Capachica, the Machu-tusuj, the Kcajelo, and the Pandilla Puneña.
Textiles and other products created from alpaca, llama, or sheep wool are characteristic of the area. They also make musical instruments like the siku (wind instrument) and the charango. The Toritos de Pucara are the most impressive ceramic pieces made.
Lake Titicaca (Spanish: Lago Titicaca, Quechua: Titiqaqa Qucha) is a large, deep lake in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. By volume of water and by surface area, it is the largest lake in South America. Lake Maracaibo has a larger surface area, but it is a tidal bay rather than a lake.
It is often called the “highest navigable lake” in the world, with a surface elevation of 3,812 metres (12,507 ft). Although this refers to navigation by large boats, it is generally considered to mean commercial craft. For many years the largest vessel afloat on the lake was the 2,200-ton, 79-metre (259 ft) SS Ollanta. Today the largest vessel is most likely the similarly sized, but broader, train barge/float Manco Capac, operated by PeruRail (berthed, as of 17 June 2013, at WikiMiniAtlas
15°50′11″S 70°00′53″W / 15.8364°S 70.0147°W / -15.8364; -70.0147, across the pier from the Ollanta). Numerous smaller bodies of water around the world are at higher elevations
The lake is located at the northern end of the endorheic Altiplano basin high in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. The western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region of Peru, and the eastern side is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department.
The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins connected by the Strait of Tiquina, which is 800 m (2,620 ft) across at the narrowest point. The larger sub-basin, Lago Grande (also called Lago Chucuito), has a mean depth of 135 m (443 ft) and a maximum depth of 284 m (932 ft). The smaller sub-basin, Wiñaymarka (also called Lago Pequeño, “little lake”), has a mean depth of 9 m (30 ft) and a maximum depth of 40 m (131 ft).The overall average depth of the lake is 107 m (351 ft).
Five major river systems feed into Lake Titicaca. In order of their relative flow volumes these are Ramis, Coata, Ilave, Huancané, and Suchez. More than twenty other smaller streams empty into Titicaca. The lake has 41 islands, some of which are densely populated.
Having only a single season of free circulation, the lake is monomictic, and water passes through Lago Huiñaimarca and flows out the single outlet at the Río Desaguadero, which then flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopó. This only accounts for about 10% of the lake’s water balance. Evapotranspiration, caused by strong winds and intense sunlight at high altitude, balances the remaining 90% of the water loss. It is nearly a closed lake.
Since 2000 Lake Titicaca has experienced constantly receding water levels. Between April and November 2009 alone the water level dropped by 81 cm (32 in), reaching the lowest level since 1949. This drop is caused by shortened rainy seasons and the melting of glaciers feeding the tributaries of the lake. Water pollution is also an increasing concern because cities in the Titicaca watershed grow, sometimes outpacing solid waste and sewage treatment infrastructure. According to the Global Nature Fund (GNF), Titicaca’s biodiversity is threatened by water pollution and the introduction of new species by humans. Already in 2012, the GNF nominated the lake “Threatened Lake of the Year”.
The cold sources and winds over the lake give it an average surface temperature of 10 to 14 °C (50 to 57 °F). In the winter (June – September), mixing occurs with the deeper waters, which are always between 10 to 11 °C (50 to 52 °F).
Neither the protohistoric nor prehistoric name for Lake Titicaca is currently known. Given the various Native American groups that occupied the Lake Titicaca region, it is likely that it lacked a single, commonly accepted name in prehistoric times and at the time the Spaniards arrived.
The terms titi and caca can be translated in multiple ways. In Aymara, titi can be translated as either puma, lead, or a heavy metal. The word caca (kaka) can be translated as white or gray hairs of the head and the term k’ak’a can be translated as either crack or fissure or, alternatively, comb of a bird. According to Weston La Barre, the Aymara considered in 1948 that the proper name of the lake is titiq’aq’a, which means gray discolored, lead-colored puma. This phrase refers to the sacred carved rock found on the Island of the Sun. In addition to names including the term titi and/or caca, Lake Titicaca was also known as Chuquivitu in the sixteenth century. This name can be loosely translated as lance point. This name survives in modern usage in which the large lake is occasionally referred to as Lago Chucuito.
Standish argues that the logical explanation for the origin of the name Titicaca is a corruption of the term thakhsi cala, which is the fifteenth- to sixteenth-century name of the sacred rock on the Island of the Sun. Given the lack of a common name for Lake Titicaca in the sixteenth century, it is argued that the Spaniards used the name of the site of the most important indigenous shrine in the region, thakhsi cala on the Island of the Sun, as the name for the lake. In time and with usage, this name developed into Titicaca.
Locally, the lake goes by several names. The small lake to the south is called Huiñamarca. The large lake also is occasionally referred to as Lago Mayor, and the small lake as Lago Menor. In addition, the southeast quarter of the lake is separate from the main body (connected only by the Strait of Tiquina), and the Bolivians call it Lago Huiñaymarca (also Wiñay Marka, which in Aymara means The Eternal City) and the larger part Lago Chucuito. In Peru, these smaller and larger parts are referred to as Lago Pequeño and Lago Grande, respectively
The Tinajani Basin, in which Lake Titicaca lies, is an intermontane basin. This basin is a pull-apart basin created by strike-slip movement along regional faults starting in the late Oligocene and ending in the late Miocene. The initial development of the Tinajani Basin is indicated by volcanic rocks, which accumulated between 27 and 20 million years ago within this basin. They lie upon an angular unconformity which cuts across pre-basin strata. Lacustrine sediments of the Lower Tinajani Formation, which are exposed within the Tinajani Basin, demonstrate the presence of a pre-Quaternary, ancestral Lake Titicaca within it between 18 and 14 million years ago. Little is known about the prehistory of Lake Titicaca between 14 million years ago and 370,000 BP because the lake sediments dating to this period lie buried beneath the bottom of Lake Titicaca and have not yet been sampled by continuous coring.
The Lake Titicaca drilling project recovered a 136-m-long drill core of sediments from the bottom of Lake Titicaca at a depth of 235 m and at a location just east of Isla del Sol. This core contains a continuous record of lake sedimentation and paleoenvironmental conditions for Lake Titicaca back to about 370,000 BP. For this period of time, Lake Titicaca was typically fresher and had higher lake levels during periods of expanded regional glaciation that corresponded to global glacial periods. During periods of reduced regional glaciation that corresponded to global interglacial periods, Lake Titicaca had typically low lake levels.
Lacustrine sediments and associated terraces provide evidence for the past existence of five major prehistoric lakes that occupied the Tinajani Basin during the Pliocene and Pleistocene. Within the northern Altiplano (Tinajani Basin), these prehistoric lakes were Lake Mataro at an elevation of 3,950 m, Lake Cabana at an elevation of 3,900 m, Lake Ballivián at an elevation of 3,860 m, Lake (North) Minchin at an elevation of 3,825 m, and Lake (North) Tauca at an elevation 3,815 m. The age of Lake Mataro is uncertain—it may date back to the Late Pliocene. Lake Cabana possibly dates to the Middle Pleistocene. Lake Ballivián existed between 120,000 and 98,000 BP. Two high lake stands, between 72,000 – 68,000 BP and 44,000 – 34,000 BP, have been discerned for Lake Minchin within the Altiplano. Another ancient lake in the area is Ouki. The high lake levels of Lake Tauca have been dated as having occurred between 18,100 and 14,100 BP.
Lake Titicaca has a borderline Subtropical highland/Alpine climate with cool to cold temperatures for most of the year. The average annual precipitation is 610 mm (24 in.) mostly falling in summer thunderstorms. Winters are dry with very cold nights and mornings and warm afternoons. Below are the average temperatures of the town Juliaca in the northern part of the lake.
The “Floating Islands” are small manmade islands constructed by the Uros (or Uru) people from layers of cut totora, a thick buoyant reed that grows abundantly in the shallows of Lake Titicaca. The Uros harvest the reeds that naturally grow on the lake’s banks to make the islands by continuously adding reeds to the surface.
According to legend, the Uru people originated in the Amazon and migrated to the area of Lake Titicaca in the pre-Colombian era, where they were oppressed by the local population and were unable to secure land of their own. They built the reed islands, which could be moved into deep water or to different parts of the lake as necessary, for greater safety from their hostile neighbors on land.
Golden in color, many of the islands measure about 50 feet by 50 feet, and the largest are approximately half the size of a football field. Each island contains several thatched houses, typically belonging to members of a single extended family. Some of the islands have watchtowers and other buildings, also constructed of reeds.
Historically, most of the Uros islands were located near the middle of the lake, about 9 miles from the shore; however, in 1986, after a major storm devastated the islands, many Uros rebuilt closer to shore. As of 2011[update], about 1,200 Uros lived on an archipelago of 60 artificial islands, clustering in the western corner of the lake near Puno, Titicaca’s major Peruvian port town. The islands have become one of Peru’s tourist attractions, allowing the Uros to supplement their hunting and fishing by conveying visitors to the islands by motorboat and selling handicrafts
Amantani is another small island on Lake Titicaca populated by Quechua speakers. About 4,000 people live in ten communities on the roughly circular 15 square kilometers (6 sq mi) island. There are two mountain peaks, called Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), and ancient ruins on the top of both peaks. The hillsides that rise up from the lake are terraced and planted with wheat, potatoes, and vegetables. Most of the small fields are worked by hand. Long stone fences divide the fields, and cattle and sheep graze on the hillsides.
There are no cars on the island and no hotels. Since machines are not allowed on the island, all agriculture is done by hand. A few small stores sell basic goods, and there is a health clinic and 6 schools. Electricity was produced by a generator and provided limited power a couple of hours each day, but with the rising price of the petroleum, they no longer use the generator. Most families use candles or flashlights powered by batteries or hand-cranks. Small solar panels have recently been installed on some homes.
Some of the families on Amantani open their homes to tourists for overnight stays and provide cooked meals, arranged through tour guides. The families who do so are required to have a special room set aside for the tourists and must fit a code by the tourist companies that help them. Guests typically take food staples (cooking oil, rice, etc. but no sugar products, as they have no dental facilities) as a gift or school supplies for the children on the island. They hold nightly traditional dance shows for the tourists where they offer to dress them up in their traditional clothes and participate
Taquile is a hilly island located 45 kilometers east of Puno. It is narrow and long and was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony and into the 20th century. In 1970 it became property of the Taquile people, who have inhabited the island since then (current population around 2,200). The taquiean Island is 5.5 by 1.6 km in size (maximum measurements), with an area of 5.72 km². The highest point of the island is 4,050 meters above sea level and the main village is at 3,950 m. Pre-Inca ruins are found on the highest part of the island, and agricultural terraces on hillsides. From the hillsides of Taquile you have a view over the white snow tops of the Bolivian mountains. The inhabitants, known as Taquileños, are southern Quechua speakers.
Life on Taquile is still largely unchanged by mainland modernities. There are no cars on the island and no hotels and a few small stores sell basic goods. Most families use candles or flashlights powered by batteries or hand-cranks. Small solar panels have recently been installed on some homes. On clear nights, Taquile is a perfect place for star gazing and you furthermore experience much lightning in the horizon due to electric activity in the area.
Culture is very much alive on Taquile, which can be seen in the traditional clothes everyone wears. Taquile is especially known for its handicraft tradition which is regarded as among the highest quality handicrafts not only in Peru but in the world. “Taquile and Its Textile Art” were honored by being proclaimed “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO. Knitting is exclusively performed by males, starting at age eight. The women exclusively make yarn and weave.
Taquileans are also known for having created an innovative, community-controlled tourism model, offering home stays, transportation, and restaurants to tourists. Ever since tourism started coming to Taquile in the seventies the taquleans have slowly lost control over the mass day-tourism operated by non-Taquileans. The Taquileans have thus developed alternative tourism models, including lodging for groups, cultural activities and local guides, who have recently completed a 2-year training program. Furthermore, the local Travel Agency Munay Taquile has been established to regain control over tourism.
The people in Taquile run their society based on community collectivism and on the Inca moral code ama sua, ama llulla, ama qhilla, (do not steal, do not lie, do not be lazy). The island is divided into six sectors or suyus for crop rotation purposes. The economy is based on fishing, terraced farming horticulture based on potato cultivation, and tourist-generated income from the approximately 40,000 tourists who visit each year.
Island of the Sun
Situated on the Bolivian side of the lake with regular boat links to the Bolivian town of Copacabana, Isla del Sol (“Island of the sun”) is one of largest islands of the lake. Geographically, the terrain is harsh; it is a rocky, hilly island. There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island. The main economic activity of the approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy.
There are over 180 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD. Many hills on the island contain agricultural terraces, which adapt steep and rocky terrain to agriculture. Among the ruins on the island are the Sacred Rock, a labyrinth-like building called Chicana, Kasa Pata, and Pilco Kaima. In the religion of the Incas, it was believed that the sun god was born here.
During 1987-92 Johan Reinhard directed underwater archaeological investigations off of the Island of the Sun, recovering Inca and Tiahuanaco offerings. These artifacts are currently on display in the site museum of the village of Challapampa
Island of the Moon
Isla de la Luna is situated east from the bigger Isla del Sol. Both islands belong to the La Paz Department of Bolivia. According to legends that refer to Inca mythology Isla de la Luna (Spanish for “island of the moon”) is where Viracocha commanded the rising of the moon. Ruins of a supposed Inca nunnery (Mamakuna) occupy the oriental shore.
Archaeological excavations indicate that the Tiwanaku peoples (ca. AD 650-1000) built a major temple on the Island of the Moon. Pottery vessels of local dignitaries dating from this period have been excavated on islands in Lake Titicaca. Two of them were found in the nineteenth century and are now in the British Museum in London. The structures seen on the island today were built by the Inca (ca. 1450–1532) directly over the earlier Tiwanaku ones.
Suriki lies in the Bolivian part of lake Titicaca (in the southeastern part also known as lake Wiñaymarka).
Suriki is thought to be the last place where the art of reed boat construction survives, at least as late as 1998. Craftsmen from Suriqui helped Thor Heyerdahl in the construction of several of his projects, such as the reed boats Ra II and Tigris, and a balloon gondola
The lake has had a number of steamships, each of which was built in the United Kingdom in “knock down” form with bolts and nuts, disassembled into many hundreds of pieces, transported to the lake, and then riveted together and launched.
In 1862 Thames Ironworks on the River Thames built the iron-hulled sister ships SS Yavari and SS Yapura under contract to the James Watt Foundry of Birmingham. The ships were designed as combined cargo, passenger and gunboats for the Peruvian Navy. After several years’ delay in delivery from the Pacific coast to the lake, Yavari was launched in 1870 and Yapura in 1873. Yavari was 100 feet (30 m) long but in 1914 her hull was lengthened for extra cargo capacity and she was re-engined as a motor vessel.
In 1892 William Denny and Brothers at Dumbarton on the River Clyde in Scotland built SS Coya. She was 170 feet (52 m) long and was launched on the lake in 1893.
In 1905 Earle’s Shipbuilding at Kingston upon Hull on the Humber built SS Inca. By now a railway served the lake so the ship was delivered in kit form by rail. At 220 feet (67 m) long and 1,809 tons Inca was the lake’s largest ship thus far. In the 1920s Earle’s supplied a new bottom for the ship, which also was delivered in kit form.
Trade continued to grow, so in 1930 Earle’s built SS Ollanta. Her parts were landed at the Pacific Ocean port of Mollendo and brought by rail to the lake port of Puno. At 260 feet (79 m) long and 2,200 tons she was considerably larger than the Inca, so first a new slipway had to be built to build her. She was launched in November 1931.
In 1975 Yavari and Yapura were returned to the Peruvian Navy, who converted Yapura into a hospital ship and renamed her BAP Puno. The Navy discarded Yavaribut in 1987 charitable interests bought her and started restoring her. She is now moored at Puno Bay and provides static tourist accommodation while her restoration continues. Coya was beached in 1984 but restored as a floating restaurant in 2001. Inca survived until 1994 when she was broken up. Ollanta is no longer in scheduled service but PeruRail has been leasing her for tourist charter operations.
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