Indulge and Discover: Lake Titicaca and Titilaka

After Urubamaba, Aguas Caliente, Machu Picchu and Cusco, I knew we wanted to go to Lake Titicaca, I just didn’t know how to “pull it off". There were a lot of pieces to the puzzle – transport, lodging, activities – it can be an intimidating destination. Luckily, I had heard rave reviews about some of the trains in Peru and knew going into the trip that I wanted to train through the Andes before we left.

Conveniently enough, there is an absolutely incredible train route running direct from Cusco to Puno. We'll be sharing a quick post on train options and our experience on the PeruRail Titicaca train soon, so check back!

So, a 10-and-a-half-hour train ride gets you from Cusco to Puno, all I had to do from there was figure out the rest. One word was the answer to every question I had on our trip to Lake Titicaca – Titilaka! This post will walk through our amazing stay at one of the most remote properties we have ever been to anywhere in the world and our exploration of Lake Titicaca.

Let’s start with getting to the property. One of the great things about Titilaka was not having to think or worry about a single thing involving logistics. Before our trip I exchanged a few emails with the concierge and they had private transportation waiting for us outside the train station upon arrival in Puno. Should you prefer to fly into the nearest airport (Juliaca) they will arrange for the same transport. Hopping in the van, a Titilaka representative checked our oxygen levels and offered us a beverage as soon as we started rolling. (Side note – we never felt altitude sickness on our trip. We made sure to stay hydrated and took altitude sickness pills from Flyby and highly recommend them, also great for avoiding hangovers!) Along the ride we spent about 20 minutes discussing excursion options and built a schedule for our stay. A short 45 minutes from the station and we arrived in the small village of Titilaca. As the car made its way down a dirt road to a small peninsula the outline of our destination appeared, the beautiful and almost iconic structure of Titilaka hotel. Surrounded by seagrass and rock, the hotel is bound by the Lake on three sides, providing stunning views from any of the rooms. We had the Dusk Room and absolutely loved it.

The warm welcome and the beautiful locally inspired décor made this majestic 18 room Relais & Chateaux quickly feel like home. A cozy fireplace to relax with cocktails before dinner was the perfect wind down before being introduced to the perfect on-site restaurant. Sitting down to panoramic views and the last minutes of sunset was a dream, only to be surpassed by the food! The menu is surprisingly extensive, and all sourced locally wherever possible. Traditional Peruvian staples included lamb, steak, fish, vegetables prepared beautifully and elegantly in every dish. I am still dreaming about the trout and avocado tartar, the braised lamb, the smoked duck, I could go on and on. This combined with the local origin of the staff and explanations of the dishes provided an exciting insight into the Lake region throughout our stay.

To round out the experience, you have to explore the land and Lake. There is no better way than the excursions offered right through the hotel. Before I begin on the outings, I can’t stress enough how wonderful it is to have everything (excursions and meals!) included with your stay. This philosophy just makes everything so easy! All you need to do is mention what you want to see and experience and let Titilaka handle the rest. One of the main reasons we ventured to Puno was to see the Lake. To that end, a day excursion on the Titilaka boat was an absolute must.

The hotel has a private boat dock just steps away from the hotel, this is where the journey on the Lake begins. Boarding one of the private boats we were offered a beverage and whisked off to visit one of the floating reed islands of the Uros people. 

Titilaka works exclusively with one of the islands, so no other outside visitors are permitted. This really made the experience unique. After about an hour and a half ride the boat anchored a short distance from the island and we boarded a reed boat to navigate the last step of the journey – an fascinating experience in and of itself! Shortly after, we arrived at the island where we spent time with the locals learning about their day to day lives on the floating island. What an exceptional, once in a lifetime experience, not to be missed!

Next, we hopped back on the Titilaka boat and headed for Taquile Island. Taquile Island is one of the larger islands on the Peruvian side of the lake with a few thousand inhabitants and a vibrant culture. After docking up we hiked a stone path for about 20 minutes before arriving at a white table cloth lunch setting outside of a home on the top of a hill.

Taking in the lake breeze and enjoying the sunshine we were walked through several beautifully prepared local lunch dishes while listening to our guide describe local custom. We had the opportunity to hear from local inhabitants (Taquileños) and get a glimpse of life on an island in Lake Titicaca. After lunch we walked another path to the other side of the island to find the boat docked up at the base of the mountain. Absolutely breathtaking views – the pictures are worth a thousand words. The ride home consisted of sipping a cold beer and sunbathing on the top deck as we gazed out at the snowcapped mountains of Bolivia - perfection.

Other excursions and hotel activities range from exploring Inca/pre-Inca ruins, hiking, biking, rafting, visiting markets and local villages, visiting temples and, time permitting, local festivals. You can stay one or two nights, or a week, and you will never be at a loss for something new to explore and experience.

Don’t overlook relaxing at the hotel and spending time on the plentiful outdoor decks taking in the views. Titilaka was truly a once in a life time experience. It is one of those special places that you relish in visiting and feel like you are in on a secret for knowing of it exists. After a few short days we were sorry to go but excited to catalog the memories and blog about this hidden gem. On our day of departure, we had the most beautiful breakfast out on the deck and savored the last minutes spent at this magical destination.

Private transport got us from the hotel to Juliaca airport where we caught an easy flight to Lima. Stick with us as the adventure continues at our last stop to the perfect Peru itinerary! Where to stay, what to eat, what to do - Lima post coming soon!

P.S. Let's dig in to the details of Lex's shoes: Discover The Root Collectiveethically handmade shoes and boots from Guatemala and enjoy 15% off with code Alexis15 at checkout!

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