Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Rafting Across Lago Titicaca

December 20th, 2013 | Posted by Brianna in Bolivia | Border Crossings | Oh | The Places We've Been
Ian Zissou

I just think he's adorable.

As I mentioned briefly in yesterday’s border crossing post, one benefit of our choice of the longer route to La Paz via Copacabana as opposed to the more southern route through Desaguadero was a surprise bridgeless lake crossing. I should begin by introducing this lake, which is notable for a number of reasons. First, it is called Lago Titicaca, a name which elicits giggles from my grown husband every time it is mentioned. We’re a mature bunch here. Second, the lake, which lies on the border between Peru and Bolivia, is South America’s largest (by volume) lake. Third, at 12,507 feet, it is also noted as the world’s highest navigable lake, though in actuality, largest highest navigable lake or highest navigable lake by the largest vessels is probably more accurate. Last, but not least, the first Inca ruler, Manco Capac, was said to have emerged from the lake to found the Incan empire, being born of the sun in the depths of the Titicaca’s waters. So yeah, it’s a pretty awesome body of water.

Ruta Nacional 2 from Copacabana to La Paz crosses Lago Titicaca at the Straight of Tiquina, a slender stretch of water on the eastern, Bolivian part of the lake that is just short of 2800 feet across at its narrowest point. Vehicles are carted across the lake two or three to a vessel for a fee of Bs. 40 ($5.79 USD) so that they don’t have to go all the way out and around. It was quick. There was little to no communication and certainly no signing of waivers or anything. Just a motion of the hand directing us to pull onto one of the half dozen ferries rafts waiting at the point where the end of the road we were on met the water. Quite an enjoyable break during a day of driving!

Straight of Tiquina

Ruta Nacional 2 crossing el Estrecho de Tiquina on a Google map.

Lago Titicaca

The lake on the Bolivian (small) side with snow covered mountains beyond.

Ferry Raft

A ferry operator talks on his cell phone while pushing his raft away from shore.

Ferry Operator

Ferry operator pushes away from shore while two extra local passengers look across the lake.

Loaded Car

Loaded onto the ferry raft.

Ambulance on Ferry

An ambulance crosses Lago Titicaca by ferry raft.

Brianna Crossing Titicaca

Brianna and the CR-Van crossing Titicaca.

Ian Crossing Titicaca

Ian and the CR-Van crossing Titicaca.

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4 Responses

  • This is awesome! Looks like you guys are having an awesome time!

  • Sam says:

    I really enjoyed this crossing (though of course we did it in the opposite direction and were on a bus – which thankfully, got its own raft), though I wasn’t expecting it. Looking at the GPS map on Zab’s phone as we were approaching the lake, I was wondering how we’d get across since there wasn’t a bridge. Apparently, there’s been talk of building one for a while, but locals in Tiquina have strongly opposed this, as it would mean a lot of lost revenue from passengers.

  • Brianna says:

    We hear stuff like that a lot (for example, a Darien Gap ferry). From a distance, it’s hard not to think that there is a solution out there that brings more money and jobs to the community, but putting such plans into action can be quite the challenge. Anyway, in the meantime, I agree with you guys that it is actually quite the enjoyable experience.

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