The Titicaca National Reserve (RNTC) is located in the waters of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, next to Puno and Huancané provinces in Puno department, at an average height of 3,810 metres above sea level. It stretches over 36,180 hectares.
The area protects Lake Titicaca's flora and fauna and, contributes to the socio-economic development of the region and helps to keep alive the traditional cultures of the people that inhabit the area. The communities of Uros and Uros Titino, which inhabit the islands in the vast lake, offer various experience-based tourism services, providing an excellent opportunity to soak up the local culture.
The reserve protects the lake's great biological diversity, with the most representative species being birds, including the Titicaca duck, and the famous giant Titicaca frog, known as kelli or huankele.
The entire length of the Peruvian part of Lake Titicaca was recognised by the Ramsar Convention in 1997 as a wetland of international importance, especially as a habitat for aquatic birds.
Of the almost 8,600 km2 (3320.5 square miles) of the lake, over half of it is in Peruvian territory. The lake itself has been divided into three zones: the Large or Chucuito Lake (283 metres (928 feet) deep at its deepest point), the Small or Wiñaymarca Lake and the Puno Bay.
Its main tributaries are the Ramis, Huancané, Coata, Ilave and Suches rivers. Lake Titicaca is the source of the Desaguadero river, which acts as a natural border between Peru and Bolivia. The temperature of the water varies between 11°C and 14°C.
More specifically, the RNTC is located in two distinct sectors:
- Ramis sector, covering 7,030 hectares (2,714 acres), in Huancané province, which includes a reed zone, a deeper area on the right banks of the Ramis and Huancané Rivers, and the Yaricoa and Sunuco Lagoons on the left bank of the Huancané River.
- Puno sector, covering 29,150 hectares (11,255 acres), in Puno province, which covers various reed areas between Estévez Island and the Capachica peninsula, as well as bodies of water and areas of "llachales" (submerged vegetation).
The floating islands of the Uros, inhabited by descendents of the ethnic Uros people since ancient times, are one of the main attractions. The inhabitants offer accommodation, fishing, weaving and reed work services, as well as excursions in their traditional reed boats.
On Amataní and Taquile Islands, the communities offer lodging and other rural tourism activities. Suasi Island, on the other hand, is a private space that promotes ecosystem defence.
The best place for birders is the tourist area of Carata Mocco and Huili, where the Titicaca grebe (Rollandia microptera) can be seen in all its glory. The Yapura area is a good place for cultural tourism, in addition to the adventure and aquatic activities available on the floating reed islands of Titicaca.
Activities: Hiking, bird-watching, kayaking, underwater hunting, sailing trips, excursions on land (Uroz Chulluni zone), and cultural activities in the RNT and its buffer zone.
Climate: Cold and semi-dry climate. The average temperature is 9°C (48°F), with warm days that can reach temperatures higher than 20°C (68°F) and cold nights where the temperature falls to between 2°C and 3°C (35°F to 37°F). The rainy season occurs from December to March. Tourists are recommended to visit the reserve between April and November.
Access by Air:
- Lima - Juliaca, direct flights (1 hour 40 minutes).
- Lima - Juliaca, direct flights (1 hour 40 minutes); flights with a stopover in Cusco (2 hours 40 minutes).
Access by Land:
- Lima – Arequipa – Cabanillas – Juliaca – Puno 1320 km (21 hours).
- Cusco – Juliaca – Puno: 389 km (7 hours).
- Arequipa – Santa Lucía – Cabanillas – Juliaca – Puno: 325 km (6 hours).
- Tacna – Candarave – Laraqueri – Puno: 415 km (7 hours).
Access by Train: 384 km (239 miles) from Cuzco to Puno (10 hours). Timetable: Monday-Wednesday-Friday-Saturday.