The name Titicaca: Rock of the Puma
There are several theories on the meaning of “titicaca”. The most common theory is that it orginates from “titi” which means Puma and “caca” which means Rock in quechua. Looking at the shores of Lake Titicaca, it’s easy to understand where the rock comes from, but the puma may be a bit harder to accept, unless you know that the puma used to be quite common in the area surrounding Lake Titicaca. In time it pulled back from the more and more populated area, as pumas aren’t very fond of the presence of people – smart animal if you ask me.
Another cool explanation lies in the shape of the lake. When you put the map of Lake Titicaca “upside down” you can imagine the shape of a puma that is about to devour a rabbit. Looking at the map, it doesn’t sound that bad, but I’d love to know how you one come to this conclusion without a decent map or satellite images, none of which the Incas had at their disposal as far as we know.
Take a look at the picture below and draw your own conclusion. Puno is on the upper right side of the picture, La Paz is more to the left (but not on the photo). The “tail” of the puma on the bottom left is Lake Arapa.
The blue part (The Greater Lake and the Puno Bay) is the puma, the red part (The Minor Lake) is the rabbit, chasing it from right to left.
Have you heard any other theories ? Let me know.