In 2013 adventurer Louis-Philippe Loncke, along with Gadiel Sanchez Rivera became the first people ever to circumnavigate the high-altitude Lake Titicaca by kayak in 38 days. The famous lake, which is located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, is the highest navigable lake in the world, and yet no one had ever completely paddled its shores before.
Located at 3812 meters (12,507 ft) in altitude, Lake Titicaca is often referred to as the highest navigable lake in the world. The massive body of water, which is found in the Andes Mountains and marks the border between Peru and Bolivia, covers more than 58,000 sq. km (22,400 sq. miles) and reaches depths of up to 281 meters (922 ft). It is the largest lake in South America based on volume of water.
For centuries the lake has been a source of fresh water for the small communities that have sprung up along its shores but now those same waters have become increasingly threatened by an influx of chemicals and other pollutants. It is these increased threats that prompted Loncke and Sanchez Rivera to visit Titicaca and survey the health of the lake as they circumnavigate its shoreline by kayak.
In the 38 days that the expedition took they covered 1100km, shot 9 hours of film took 1900 photos and recorded 979 GPS points, recording the water levels they encountered. The plan is to compare that data with future readings to determine the level of impact that global climate change is having on the size and depth of the lake.
They also took 90 underwater photos to better locate the endangered Titicaca frog.
While paddling around the lake they faced crazy changing weather, freezing temperatures and a host of other challenges. They have also gotten lost, experienced the kindness of strangers and met others who had never seen a kayak – or in some cases a white man – before.
Loncke, who is a member of the Explorers Club and a veteran of numerous expeditions over the years, had been updating readers of his blog as he and his partner made their way around the lake. The Belgian’s impressive resume includes a solo hike across Australia’s Simpson Desert and a north-south traverse of Iceland on foot, amongst numerous others. He is also an ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute and was a torchbearer for the 2012 London Summer Olympics. He is a passionate advocate for the environment, particularly water conservation.
For his part, Rivera is no stranger to long distance expeditions either. Better known by his nickname “Cho,” he accompanied explorer Ed Stafford for most of his walk across the Amazon a few years back too.
Thanks to their friends and gear sponsors (POWERTRAVELLER, EDGAR ADVENTURES tours, JULBO andSELECT) they managed to bring the expedition to a successful end.
Recently, Lou-Phi appeared at TEDxFlanders to share his story about that expedition talking about his experiences, the difficulties and complicated logistics involved in such a remote high-altitude adventure.