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Our Lake Titicaca Kayak Adventure

Imagine gently paddling the highest navigable lake in the world, backed by the spectacular outline of the Andes. Crystal clear waters, majestic snow capped mountains, quaint lakeside villages, and more importantly, not a single tourist in sight.

Feel the fresh breeze blowing in your face as you paddle through waters which shimmer a brilliant blue. Explore secluded islands and peninsulas with awe-inspiring views. Discover the undiscovered Bolivia while escaping tourism and escaping the world.

Kayaking Lake Titicaca with Banjo Tours.

Kayaking Lake Titicaca with Banjo Tours.

When tourists travel to Lake Titicaca, most hit Copacabana and Isla del Sol. Breathtaking views, panoramic treks, transported in beautiful traditional reed boats; sounds like the perfect way to experience Bolivia. But Copacabana is now too overcrowded, and Isla del Sol similarly so. Totora reed boats are a fascinating form of transportation, but lacks the adventure of experiencing the lake on your own by being rowed.

Our solution? Find a tour operator who would take us off the beaten path, away from mass tourism, and supply us with kayaks for a real Bolivian adventure. Our solution was Banjo Tours.

Our Lake Titicaca Kayak adventure with Banjo Tours had everything we could have possibly hoped to experience in a day – a combination of beautiful sights, culture, history and adventure, with the added bonus of visiting quaint lakeside villages and interacting with locals along the way.

On our drive towards the lake, we stopped at a morning market, and stood to the side as “campesinas (peasant woman) in bowler hats and sandals made from recycled truck tires” bartered with each other over the price of fruit, veg, and fish. We drove through tumbledown towns with crumbling cathedrals, and watched as men led their donkey’s across scenic shores. Women stomped across harvests of freeze-dried potatoes, and bundles of totora reed stood out to dry which would later be used in the creation of Bolivia’s famous totora reed boats.

It was a true glimpse into a traditional lifestyle without gimmicks or show. An authentic Bolivian adventure before we had even reached the water. (Click on individual photos for a full sized view of each). 

Once we did reach the water the race was on! Each equipped with a brand new inflatable kayak imported directly from the US, Mike and I paddled furiously to see who would first step foot on a secluded island in the near distance. Though our competitive nature was quickly forgotten as we hiked to the top and looked out over the spectacular lake.

The views were awe inspiring to say the least, and with a vantage point with panoramic views for as far as the eye could see, there was still not a single tourist in sight.

A fantastic adventure, thankfully we managed to complete the day without tipping our kayaks, for those who fall into the lake are not saved. A sacred site, locals believe that those who fall in Titicaca are a sacrifice to Pachamama, the earth God!

Highly recommend Banjo Tours for an off the beaten path adventure in Bolivia; staff are 100% Bolivian which meant we really benefited from their local knowledge and secrets, and their impeccable service, fluent English and great sense of humor made for a really fantastic day tour.

It did also help that they were there prepared with a mouthwatering selection of fruits, snacks, chips and chocolate after we pulled into shore at the end of the day!

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    34 Comments

    • Sorry to hear you were sick during your trip – I know firsthand how horrible that is when you’re traveling! Ruins entire weeks at best!!

      Really hope you can get back – Titicaca is absolutely amazing and I know you’ll love it! Safe travels!

  1. This tour looks great Megan. I have only been to the Peruvian side of the lake so far and only stopped briefly in Copacabana for a bus change, but I think on my next viasa run to Boliva I will try out this island. Looks like so much fun.
    TammyOnTheMOve recently posted…Uyuni Salt Flats Tour Part 3: Stepping onto MarsMy Profile

    • Definitely highly recommend – it’s just so nice being away from mass tourism for a change! … and the world is fast running out of places where this can be achieved!

      Safe travels – I hope you get the opportunity to return! Loving your Bolivia posts btw :)

    • You so should! We had a truly wonderful day, and the lake is really spectacular from the Bolivian side!

  2. Looks like a wonderful way to explore. I love finding things to do away from the over populated areas. I almost went to Lake Titicaca (on the Peruvian side), but it did not fit into the plans. Impromptu decisions of exploring make the trip so much more enjoyable than some that have been planned for weeks/months/years!

    • We really loved it because it was not populated. Starting to really tire of mass tourism and overly dense cities. Really love the more isolated and authentic experiences.

      And completely agree – Impromptu decisions generally always lead to a more enjoyable adventure!

  3. Lake Titicaca has been on my list of places to travel since I was in the 6th Grade, believe it or not! My teacher at the time was showing us slides from his trip to South America and Lake Titicaca was one of the places that he visited. I vowed then that I too, would go there someday! Loved reading your article and seeing all of your photos! Makes me want to go there even more!

    • Very cool how memories like that can stick with us for so many years! I remember about a decade ago I saw a feature on Canada on an Aussie show called “Getaway”, still itching to get to the largest shopping mall in the world!

      Glad you enjoyed the article and photos – hope you can make a trip to Bolivia happen soon!

    • Thanks Renuka! We really were transported to another world. It was absolute bliss for that one day!

  4. What an awesome adventure. I have only visited the Peruvian side of the lake; it was definitely amazing but did feel manufactured for tourists. If I get to go back, I would do something similar to what you did. Great shots too!
    Margherita @The Crowded Planet recently posted…Foresta Umbra: The Shady ForestMy Profile

    • Thanks Margherita! I’m very glad we took in the lake from the Bolivian side. I’ve heard wonderful things about the Peruvian side, but am starting to tire of commercial attractions aimed purely at tourism.

      I hope you have the chance to get back, it was such a wonderful experience!

  5. The colors at the market are so bright and varied. The women at the market look so friendly, too. Exploring a lake by kayak really makes for a meaningful experience, as you’re so close with the water. Even better, you guys had Titicaca to yourself. I have not been to this part of South America yet, but hope to make it in the next year.
    Dave Cole recently posted…Monday Morning Photo – Religious Azulejo in Setubal, PortugalMy Profile

    • We really loved the market – throughout the majority of Bolivia and South America it was very difficult to take photographs of people as they became offended or demanded money. But once we really got out into the Rural areas people just went about their business without really caring or paying much attention if we stood off to the side.

      Hope you can make it down to Bolivia some day; you would really love it!

    • Thanks Sara! Only one way to improve your kayak skills! Titicaca would definitely be an amazing spot to practice lol and don’t worry – I’m not the greatest in a kayak either – I was fairly slow in comparison to Mike who just shot off!

  6. Wow – looks like one great adventure. How did you find being active on such an altitude? We only were at the Peruvian side of the lake and never made it to Bolivia however it’s the same there with the reed boats, not very adventurous. Great and colorful pictures, I knew I wanted to go to Bolivia one day but now it’s stepped up my bucket list a bit higher again…
    antonette – we12travel recently posted…Dawson City: more than “just a town”My Profile

    • We were actually pretty good with the altitude, though we had been in Bolivia for a week already before taking this tour. The first few days we were in La Paz were pretty quiet – stuck mostly around the hotel with a splitting headache!!

      Glad we could step Bolivia up a little on the bucket list – it’s a truly fascinating destination! Hope you have the chance to make it happen :)

  7. All of these pictures are so full of colour, but not just that, full of local life that you can really feel from looking at them.

    I liked the short video you did too, you should have put that at the end of the post :)
    Dale recently posted…Our Guide To Vegan Restaurants In MadridMy Profile

    • Thanks Dale! I was going back and forth about including the video – I decided in the end that the photos told enough of a story; I think I’m a bit too much of a perfectionist and didn’t think I got the video quite right! Really pleased though that you enjoyed it!

  8. Thanks Ash! Lake Titicaca really is the ultimate kayak spot for South America. Next up I’m aiming for Antarctica – group trip?! 😀

  9. Seeing Lake Titicaca was my childhood dream. I am so glad I went. We stayed in Copacabana, which is, indeed full of tourists and travelers, even in the shoulder season. I loved hiking on Isla del Sol, didn’t find it crowded at all.

    You are much braver than I am. Large bodies of water and kayaking don’t go well together for me…
    Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted…How much we spent traveling the world for a yearMy Profile

    • So glad you had the opportunity to see Titicaca! Kayaking was actually fairly tame; I’ve attempted some bodies of water where the waves are just vicious! But this was a really lovely way to spend the afternoon and enjoy the lake :)

  10. Thanks for all the beautiful pictures. I’ve only missed visiting three countries in South America but Bolivia was one of them. That’s the reality of travel though…there is always something else waiting for you…
    Ed recently posted…I Didn’t Know there was Paparazzi on the SerengetiMy Profile

    • That’s definitely the way travel goes! The more I travel, the more insane and out of control my wanderlust gets! We hit up 4 countries while traveling through South America, so we’ve got a lot left to do.

      Will hopefully get there someday! And hopefully you have the chance to get to Bolivia – it’s a wonderful country :)

    • Thanks Tamara!The fantastic thing about Bolivia as well is that it’s all authentic. Peru was great, but you could tell the locals were just dressed up for photo opps and for the tourists. In Bolivia it’s all real :)

    • Glad you enjoyed the post Melvin! I hope you have the chance to visit Bolivia for Lake Titicaca soon :)

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