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Lake Titicaca

From Openwaterpedia

Lake Titicaca or Lago Titicaca in Spanish is a lake located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, and is part of the Still Water Eight . It sits 3,811 meters (12,500 feet) above sea level, making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. By volume of water, it is also the largest lake in South America at 110 miles long and 45 miles wide. The Incas named it Titicaca--"the mountain cat and the rock" in their Quechua language.

Open Water Swimming


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 that are 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.[3] More than 20 other smaller streams empty into Titicaca, and 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 Rio 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 altitude, balances the remaining 90% of the water input. 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 has sunk by 81 cm and has now reached the lowest level since 1949. This drop is caused by shortened raining seasons and the melting of glaciers feeding the tributaries of the lake.


The cold sources and winds over the lake give it an average surface temperature of 10-14°C (50-57°F).


The origin of the name Titicaca is unknown. It has been translated as "Rock Puma," as local communities have traditionally interpreted the shape of the lake to be that of a puma hunting a rabbit. "Titicaca" combines words from the local languages Quechua and Aymara. The word is also translated as "Crag of Lead." Locally, the lake goes by several names. Because the southeast quarter of the lake is separate from the main body (connected only by the Strait of Tiquina), the Bolivians call it Lago Huiñaymarca (Quechua: Wiñay Marka) and the larger part Lago Chucuito. In Peru, these smaller and larger parts are referred to as Lago Pequeño and Lago Grande, respectively.


Lake Titicaca holds large populations of water birds. Several threatened species such as the huge Titicaca Water Frog and the flightless Titicaca Grebe are largely or entirely restricted to the lake, and the Titicaca Orestias has gone extinct due to competition and predation by various introduced species of trouts and silversides.


Completion of the Still Water Eight can be recorded in three categories:

1. wetsuit
2. non-wetsuit (i.e., FINA approved swim suits)
3. channel-standard swimwear (i.e., traditional swimming briefs for men and no arm or leg coverage for women)

If the swimmer chooses to swim one of the Still Water Eight swims in a wetsuit, they would fall into the wetsuit category. Likewise if they swim in a FINA-approved swimsuit, they fall in that category. If they swim across all the lakes in channel-standard swimwear, then they fall into the channel-standard category.

Every swim attempt must start and finish on dry land.

Stillwater 8

Lake Titicaca is part of the Stillwater 8, a solo marathon swimming challenge created by Michelle Macy:

External links