T R E K K I N G P E R U
Lake Titicaca is an icon of South America. At 3810 m above sea level, the highest navigable lake in the world occupies 8562 sq km, straddling the border between Peru and Bolivia. This natural lake is a major tourist destination, especially along the south shore. The less-visited north side of the lake is gently hilly with many rocky promontories, beaches, and sheltered bays rich in birdlife. Scattered about the lake are seventy-two islands. The flat areas around the lake are known as punas.
To the north and west of the lake is the remote and isolated Cordillera Carabaya, the watershed between the Titicaca and Amazon basins, connecting the Cordillera Vilcanota in Cuzco with the Cordillera Apolobamba in Bolivia. This region has beautiful glaciated mountains crowned by Allin Capac (5780 m), spectacular lakes, undeveloped archaeological sites, ancient roads, rock forests, and rock art. It has been a mining area since at least Inca times and is Peru’s largest alpaca producer with huge herds grazing the punas. Trekking here requires strong navigation skills, good Spanish, and patient cross-cultural communication. Most Carabaya residents are unfamiliar with trekking and will assume you are a prospector or up to some sort of mischief. It is well worth the time and effort required to break the ice ...
PUENTE JIPATA TO MOHO
THE NORTH SHORE OF Lake Titicaca was the Omasuyo region of the Incas. It has many ancient roads and the remains of several pre-Inca settlements. Following these roads through the terraced slopes above the lakeshore, this gentle trek offers a glimpse into the traditional lives of the rural Aymara people, closely tied to the land and water. The humidity released by evaporation from the lake and the fact that the water absorbs heat and releases it at night, tempers the harsh climate of the surrounding altiplano. This creates micro-climates that allow the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, and flowers typical of lower, warmer elevations. Moho, the regional center at the end of this trek, proudly calls itself el jardín del altiplano, "the garden of the altiplano". Floating trout farms are common offshore, and in October or November you might see small boats going out at night to fish the schools of tiny endemic ispi, with traditional reed fishing baskets now replaced by nylon nets ...
MOHO TO TILALI
AT FIRST GLANCE, HIKING the gently rolling hills along the shore of Lake Titicaca might seem very easy. This trek, however, follows not only ancient and modern roads through Aymara villages scattered over the wide open landscape, it also heads cross-country along surprisingly steep ridgelines and across deep quebradas. Substantial navigational challenge likewise makes this route more difficult than you might expect ...
ALLIN CAPAC LAKES
THE TWO MOST EMBLEMATIC summits of the Cordillera Carabaya are Allin Capac (Allinccapac, Allinjapac, 5780 m) and Chichi Capac (Chichiccapac, 5614 m), striking features of both the landscape and local mythology. For many people they remain venerated apus, mountain deities to which tributes are offered in order to propitiate a bountiful harvest or multiplication of the alpaca herd. At the foot of these two giants lies a chain of particularly beautiful lakes in a glacial valley flowing from vertical rock faces to the flat puna.
The gorgeous scenery is complemented by a rich variety of fauna, including many water birds and large mammals ranging from large herds of domestic llamas and alpacas, through shy wild vicuñas, to taruca (Hippocamelus antisensis)—the stately highaltitude Andean deer ...
ALL AROUND ALLIN CAPAC
YOU CANNOT TREK MUCH farther off the tourist trail in Peru than this route. It takes in a cross-section of real life in the Cordillera Carabaya ranging from the sublime to the squalid, from views of the immense glaciers of Quelcaya to the mine-marred landscape around Ollachea. Along the way are a long list of natural and man-made wonders, as well as a few disappointments. A river vanishes before your eyes while another divides straddling a ridge. You travel difficult cross-country routes along seemingly endless chains of lakes, ancient roads that once led to the Inca’s own mines, wide trails marked with milestones, and brand-new vehicle tracks that have just wrecked one of the above. A highlight is the pre-Inca Pitumarka archaeological site, reached by a stone stairway through a waterfall. All the while you are making a wide circumnavigation of Allin Capac (5780 m), the senior apu of Carabaya ...
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