South Africa Travel - A Guide To Stellenbosch: More Than Just Wine

Located right in the heart of the acclaimed Cape Winelands (a highlight for any traveler in its own right; you could plan an entire holiday around food and wine alone), the picturesque town of Stellenbosch, set among the vast green valleys and towering mountains is regarded as one of South Africa’s prime wine producing regions. Without a doubt, wine-drinking (or to put it more elegantly - tasting) tops the list of any traveler visiting here, but with all that beautiful nature, vibrant restaurants and a nightlife scene (thanks to the bustling student population), Stellenbosch has much to offer its visitors beyond wine tourism.Connect with our South African travel experts and experience another side of this famed wine producing town, which is often overlooked.Let’s take a quick peek at some of Stellenbosch’s really cool experiences, right on par with glugging Chardonnays and Shiraz and Pinot Noirs at its excellent vineyards.Visit the Blaauwklippen Family MarketEditorial copyrights: Rouvanne van der BergOne of the perfect ways of spending your Sunday afternoon while in Stellenbosch is by hanging around the Blaauwklippen Family Market at the Blaauwklippen Vineyards. Try the scrumptious foods provided by food vendors on-site, ranging from Braai to Tacos. Do try out the luscious beefy Lamb Braai, enough to satisfy the hunger of an entire family. Editorial copyrights: Craig LotterApart from the cuisine, you can skim through the antique market and immerse yourself in live music played by local talent.See Coffee Brewing at Blue Crane Coffee Company (BCCC)Editorial copyrights: Robert WallaceEstablished by three friends of different nationalities with a strong desire to do something different in the coffee business, the Blue Crane Coffee Company (or BCCC) is a must-visit for any coffee lover looking for a pleasurable caffeine hit while visiting Stellenbosch. Equipped with both roastery and laboratory, it is at BCCC where you will realize that coffee brewing is both a science and an art. These first-rate coffees are served in customized cups made by a local craftsman having over 3 decades of experience in ceramic pottery.Visit the Kayamandi TownshipEditorial copyrights: Eva BuijsOriginally built to shelter the black migrant male laborers who worked on the farms around the Stellenbosch area, Kayamandi is one such historic township which is very much a part of Stellenbosch as is winemaking. Editorial copyrights: Julie BelleConnect with the people residing here for several generations, listen to their wildly interesting stories and educate yourself with the past history of the area. While it is real easy to indulge yourself in the luxurious world of vineyards, learning the reality of the other side of the coin is equally important. Besides, it is widely recognised as one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly townships in all of South Africa.Have a Xhosa mealEditorial copyrights: Melissa CouchAfter visiting Kayamandi, the best way to dig more into their culture is by having a traditional meal at Nocawe’s Place; the lady is a Kayamandi local quite popular for her “dine with local” experience. Get treated to a traditional Xhosa meal; expect delicious combinations of leafy greens like spinach, a lot of pumpkin, and red or white meat. The AmaXhosas (as the people are called), hail from the south east of South Africa, and is one of the most popular local cuisines of the country.Editorial copyrights: Buccaneers BackpackersAdding to the entertainment along with dinner is the traditional Xhosa song and dance performance. You get the full cultural package for the price of a meal, and it is every bit as interesting as the food itself.Have lunch at De WarenmarktRegarded as Stellenbosch’s central food market, De Warenmarket is set in a historic 18th-century building, and it boasts an oyster bar, juice bar, coffee stand, restaurant, waffle stand, a wine bar and what not, making it a perfect hub for having almost any kind of meal. Most notable of all is the Butcher’s Choice, where you cut your own meat and have chefs prepare it on site. De Warenmarkt is a paradise for all gourmands looking to try out different flavors of the South African food-spectrum.Taste vinegar infused with botanicals at RozendalEditorial copyrights: Specialty Food AssociationUnlike other vinegar manufacturing sites, the one at Rozendal happened by pure accident. Earlier Rozendal used to be a winery mainly focusing on Bordeaux blends, but everything changed when its owner Kurt Amman discovered that his 1988 vintage contained way too much acidity. Instead of throwing it away, he decided to make vinegar out of it; not unusual, as humans have been doing this for centuries, but this vinegar is infused with botanicals like fynbos, hibiscus, and lavender, which also have plenty of health benefits apart from the pleasant flavors and captivating fragrances.Sample Olive Oil at TokaraEditorial copyrights: Mike DriscollAnother activity making to the list of unique experiences in Stellenbosch is tasting the pure organic olive oil at the Tokara vineyard. Home to a vast stretch of olive groves, Tokara, apart from making wine, also produce their own 5 different varieties of extra virgin olive oil. Editorial copyrights: Robert WallaceJust like wine, the olive oil is poured into a glass and spun around before taking a sip. Tokara is place of great beauty as well, perfect for a walk through the stunning outdoors of the grape and olive groves.Have brunch at the VineyardsEditorial copyrights: Jeremy SngApart from offering you with its exquisite wine samples, most wineries are also equipped with a restaurant or deli on site, making it a superb spot for enjoying a long leisurely lunch. Different vineyards offer different specialties: the Lanzerac deli offers a range of fruits along with deli meats and cheeses, while Tokara deli is proud of its heavenly eggs benedict. Now that you are familiar with this face of Stellenbosch, start planning your itinerary here that include this exciting Dutch-colonized town merely a stone’s throw away from Cape Town.

South Africa Travel: Best times for Safaris and Other Attractions

South Africa is blessed with near-perfect weather all through the year, but the best time to travel would depend on the specific experience a traveler wishes to enjoy, said experiences ranging from thrilling game-viewing expeditions (aka safaris) to lazing around in the big cities (Cape Town, Jo'Burg, Durban) and the surrounding winelands, or going for self-drives through some of the most beautiful country landscapes in the world. Before exploring a whole bunch of South Africa trip options, here's a little information to get you started.  Best time to plan a Wildlife Safari tripGiven that South Africa has some of the most exclusive game-viewing spots in all of the African continent, it is no wonder why wildlife safaris get the highest priority in any traveler's itinerary. However, the best time to go is in the dry winter/spring months of May to early October, when the animals congregate around the waterholes, making them easier to spot. The winter season also provides drier foliage, making your bush walks safer and also exponentially increasing your chance to spot the wildlife better. It gets decidedly chilly in the evening and early mornings during this time of year, but the days are gorgeous, with beautiful clear skies and gentler temperatures (requiring no more than a cardigan), perfect for entire days of game-viewing under the sun.Best time for visiting Cape Town and Cape WinelandsIt would be a major disappointment to return from South Africa without visiting the beaches of Cape Town, along with all its myriad attractions and the equally famed wineries. Cape Town can be best explored in the summer months from December to March, right through the convivial season of Christmas. This is also the best time for bird watching, as plenty of migratory birds arrive to these shores to enjoy the warmth of summer, some from as far away as Siberia and China. Unfortunately, summer is not the best for wildlife viewing as the weather is hot and the rains make for thickening foliages, making it more difficult to get that perfect safari experience.What to doIdentify your fundamental reason for visiting South Africa: is it having a first-rate safari experience, or exploring the big cities of Johannesburg and Durban, or relaxing on the beaches of Cape Town and sampling the excellent wines of the region?Lucky for travelers, South Africa steps up and makes it easier for everyone. Yes, as we said, for a top-notch safari adventure, head over in the dry winter months from May to October. Pack your woolies (light cardigans for day and the heavier stuff for nights); conditions for adventure sports like mountain biking and hiking may not be ideal unless you are a hardcore adventure enthusiast who is not affected by radical dips in temperatures; in the coldest months from June - August, the mercury can hit highs of 65 F (18 C) and lows of 33 F (1 C). If you are more interested in spending your time around the Cape, then come over in the summer months from December to March. Although this is not an ideal time for game-viewing, there are several safari options in some of the finest private game reserves.The sweet spot of South African travel is in the shoulder months of April to May or October to November, when the weather is not extreme (superb for beach-lounging, wine-sipping and working up an adventure-sport sweat), but also yields a great safari experience.Once you are clear about your priorities, and know the best time for maximising them on an exhilarating South African trip, start planning your itinerary here.

Africa Travel: Things to do at Victoria Falls

Regarded as one of Africa's prominent adventure destinations, Victoria Falls (also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, translated as "the smoke that thunders") is also one of the world's most dazzling spectacles. Acting as a natural border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, this African masterpiece was discovered by British explorer David Livingstone in 1855. Victoria Falls attracts adventure tourists of all descriptions through its vast array of exciting activities ranging from helicopter rides to peeking over its edge from the Devil's Pool.Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or a recreational traveler, connect with our Southern Africa travel experts and head over to the Falls, where you are sure to tick off several items from your bucket list.Whitewater Rafting on the Zambezi RiverGraded 5 by the British Canoe Union, you can safely assume that rafting the restless Zambezi River is not a piece of cake, but what you can be assured of is a thrilling and unforgettable experience. Stretching over a distance of 15 miles with 18 fearsome rapids, witness your adrenaline hit its peak when you cascade down the 25 feet of the Stairway to Heaven rapid, or plough through the aggressive froth of Oblivion, not failing to mention the notorious Commercial Suicide rapid, graded 5 on the difficulty scale.Be rest assured that the operators on the Zambezi are top-notch world class, and have never had an accident. Just get ready for the maddest thrill of your life. Editorial copyrights: Kasia WallisThe best time to go for rafting on the Zambezi would be in the months between February and July when the water levels are low.Flight of Angels- Helicopter Flight Over the Victoria FallsThere is no better way to grasp the majesty of Victoria Falls than to fly overhead by chopper. Soar high above and get mesmerized by breathtaking aerial views of one of the largest falls in Africa tearing through the landscape, along with some excellent game viewing over the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park on your 30-minute flight. Assuredly, flying over this nature’s gem is the best way to soak in its sheer beauty, which is worth every penny.Plunge into the Devil’s PoolEditorial copyrights: russjgagnonOnly done during the dry months of September to December, or when the water levels are low enough to ensure safety, diving into the Devil’s Pool is an experience unlike any other. Fringed by sturdy rocks on the very brink of the falls, the Devil’s Pool can be accessed by taking a boat to Livingstone Island from where a small hike over the rocks will lead you to this natural bathing pool. Once in the pool, swim over to the very edge for that once-in-a-lifetime view of an angry column of water crashing down from a staggering height of 350 feet.Bungee JumpingApart from whitewater rafting, the gigantic 360 foot free-fall bungee dive situated on the Victoria Falls Bridge (Zambia Side) is another such adrenaline-spiking activity this place has to offer. Take a deep breath, widen your arms and plunge to just above the rapids of the Zambezi River below. Astonishingly, more than 50,000 people have leaped over this bridge with a 100% safety record. With a scenic backdrop of the falls and the roaring Zambezi river below, this bungee jump probably ranks highest in sheer dramatic heart-pumping beauty.Crocodile cage divingEditorial copyrights: James BowlerLocated amidst Victoria Falls Town, Crocodile Cage Diving is another such exceptional experience this part of Africa has to offer. Divers can have a real close encounter with these ferocious predators by getting ridiculously up-close with their prehistoric bodies and frightening jaws in their own element. Designed for 2-4 people per cage, Crocodile Cage Diving gives you a fulfilling 360 degree up close view of these amazing reptiles.Elephant-back Safari and Walking With LionsEditorial copyrights: Mike GaddIn the Stanley and Livingstone Private Game Reserve a few kilometers outside the Victoria Falls, you can have the time of your life exploring the African savannah on an exciting Elephant Safari. Every elephant is equipped with a personal Induna (elephant handler), and you can have some worthy moments by touching, feeding and bonding with these gentle giants. Another similar experience worth your time would be taking a walk and getting personal with the lions in the Zambezi National Park, where you will learn about their habitats and behavior from a trained (and armed) guide and handler. If you are lucky, you might even see a hunt go down before your eyes. Don’t fail to leave without a photograph with the Kings of the jungle.Go on a Sunset River CruiseAfter an action-packed day, take a cruise on the Zambezi river with a view of the spectacular sunset, a perfect way to unwind and relax. Soak in views of prime game like hippos, giraffes, antelopes and possibly big cats along the banks of the river, with a variety of birds gliding overhead.  Have dinner at the Boma RestaurantEditorial copyrights: Rex HarrisFor a sensational African experience, head over to the Boma Restaurant on the Zimbabwean side of the Victoria Falls, where you can feast upon traditional African cuisine. The guests are greeted with chitenges (traditional robes) and then served delicious Zimbabwean dishes including Kudu, Impala or the more conventional beef, pork and chicken. Editorial copyrights: Hans-Dieter VeselyThroughout your meal, you will be accompanied by the traditional dancing, singing and drumming session showcasing you the cultural heritage of this part of the continent.Start tailoring your own itinerary here and don’t miss out adding Victoria Falls in your African expedition.

South Africa Travel: All About South African Wines

Not just limited to picturesque landscapes and prolific wildlife, South Africa has a way more delectable highlight up in its sleeve to charm its visitors - its vineyards. With brilliant wineries producing exemplary (and award-winning) wines at affordable prices, South Africa easily makes it to the list of top 10 wine producing countries in the world. Trust us when we say it can even be a stand-alone reason to visit South Africa.Connect with our travel experts in South Africa for one such wine tour, showcasing world-class vintages in some of the most scenic settings in the world.OverviewThe foundation for wine production was laid down in the western cape in 1659, and since then South Africa has stepped up to produce first-class wine coaxed out of quality grapes. In the apartheid days, South African wine was only limited to domestic markets due to international boycotts, but now it is going places, and has gained much recognition among the oenophiles all over the world. The heart of wine production lies in and around the bustling city of Cape Town, in the Cape Winelands and in the pristine fields of Stellenbosch, Constantia and Hemel-en-Aarde Valley.Let’s take a look at some of the country’s premier vineyards which you must visit as part of your larger South Africa itinerary.Groot Constantia EstateThe oldest winery in the whole country, Groot Constantia is one of the premier wine estates, well-known for its production of Constantia Wyn (called Grand Constance). This old winery specializes in its unique chocolate and wine pairing, most notably the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 paired with tropical guava white chocolate, a combo that is pure bliss for the tongue. Astonishingly, Groot Constance has had a fan following of many famous patrons in the past, such as Napoleon Bonaparte, Queen Victoria, and Charles Dickens, giving you another reason to not miss out on this legendary winery.SteenbergTracing its roots back to 1695, the Steenberg farm is also one of the oldest vineyards in the Cape Town region. Recently equipped with an ultra modern tasting room, Steenberg has focused on eco-friendly production techniques, with a major production of white varietals. Enjoy a lip-smacking lunch with the delightful sparkling wine of Steenberg, the 1682 Chardonnay Methode Cap Classique, with an fusion of green apple; another classic (in the reds) is the Steenberg Shiraz 2012, which is an amalgamation of anise, coriander, and cinnamon notes.BeyerskloofEditorial copyrights: Fabio Massaru NaraharaWith the highest production of wine (in terms of volume) in all of the country, the Stellenbosch district is unofficially considered the “wine capital of South Africa”. Stellenbosch boasts of its fantastic Shiraz and Pinotage vintages, and one such vineyard is Beyerskloof, also known as the “Home of Pinotage.” Beyerskloof Pinotage also happens to be on restaurant menus all over the country. Try out the mesmerising blackberry-flavored Beyerskloof Pinotage Reserve 2013.Morgenhof EstateEditorial copyrights: Randall LangenhovenAnother old winery is the Morgenhof Wine Estate, slightly outside of the Stellenbosch district, which started back in 1692. Morgenhof produces classic vintages like Chardonnay 2013 - with a combo of strawberry and pineapple notes. Try the appetizing blackberry-fragrant Cabernet Sauvignon 2011, and the farm’s celebrated Morgenhof Estate 2005 - a big, bold, full-bodied beauty.   SumaridgeWith vineyards stretching away in the foreground of lush hills and mountains, the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley offers stunning views in which to sample its organic vintages. One such vineyard is the Sumaridge, notable for its 10 month old 2010 Pinot Noir, which is cellared for an extra year, and is a rich combination of ripe cherry and cedar notes balancing its fruity essence with earthy flavors. Editorial copyrights: hermanus .co.zaYou can also sample the region’s favorite Chardonnay and leave on a happy note with 2013 Sauvignon Blanc.Klein ConstantiaEditorial copyrights: Pierrick BouquetAnother wine estate in the Constantia region, Klein Constantia was founded in 1817 and was earlier part of the Groot Constantia. Primarily excelling in the production of white varietals, Klein Constantia also offers the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 much like its older brother, Groot Constantia.Editorial copyrights: Chris RebokFor an otherworldly experience, do try their version of Constantia Wyn called Vin de Constance 2008 - a perfect blend of raisins and vanilla fragments that will keep your taste buds tingling for a long time.Rust en VredeEditorial copyrights: Stephan SchmartzConsistently ranked among the top 10 wineries in the nation, Rust en Vrede is located in the south of Stellenbosch, against the background of the grand Helderberg Mountains. Editorial copyrights: ModygRust en Vrede is the darling among all other vineyards in the Stellenbosch region, alluring its visitors with its range of red vintages: Shiraz, Merlots, and Cabernets, cellared for 5 long years before their release, giving them a fine ripe crisp. As a matter of fact, the country’s past political icon Nelson Mandela was among its prominent patrons.VergelegenSet in a picturesque location with a stunning Cape Dutch manor house and a beautiful garden, Vergelegen is paramount of all the vineyards in the region because of its consistent award-winning Cabernet Sauvignon V. Dating back to the 17th century, this historic wine farm tends to captivate its visitors with its matchless Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. The Vergelegen red is probably the best red of the region, rivaling the finest winners from Napa and Bordeaux. Enjoy your lunch in the region’s Camphors restaurant with a glass of Vergelegen’s finest wine; you will quickly realize why it deserves all the awards.Creation WinesEditorial copyrights: Mark MostertLocated on a sheep farm in the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Creation Wines was founded by Carolyn and JC Martin in 2002 and mainly focuses on the production of distinct refined vintages. With a lovely tasting room space, Creation Wines amplify the wine tasting experience with its gastronomic dining and stunning views of the mountains. Don’t miss out tasting the popular Creation Syrah Grenache 2012 - a true delight combined with mild smokiness and black pepper finish.La MotteEditorial copyrights: Damien du ToitBased in the cute, French influenced village of Franschhoek in South Africa’s Cape Winelands, La Motte is the home of some of the finest and illustrious wines, recognized globally among wine connoisseurs. Their collection of Sauvignon Blancs, Shirazes and Chardonnays are best had with a delectable meal at Pierneef a la Motte, one of the country’s top restaurants situated conveniently in the region.Start planning your itinerary with an expert to this unique wine-tasting destination.

Iceland Travel: Golden Circle Highlights, Thingvellir National Park

If you have time to spare, you might plan an Iceland trip in a way that will include a lay-over at the Thingvellir National Park. Opened in 1930, the park has been named a World Heritage Site, with good reason: its glorious history dates back to the end of the first millennium, and it has a story to tell through its rich geography as well.What makes the Thingvellir National Park different from the other national parks in Iceland? What are the things one can see and do?Although this guide should answer most of your questions, do involve a seasoned travel operator in Iceland who can show you around this historic and geological masterpiece, in order to maximize your travel experience.OverviewPerhaps Iceland’s most historic and sought after highlight of the Golden Circle, the Vikings established the first parliament on the very location that houses the national park today.  And if you consider the area’s unique geology, there is no surprise why the Icelandic chieftains decided to choose this remarkable place as the natural conclave for their annual proceedings. Apart from its historic interest, Thingvellir is also an ideal place for nature lovers and its vast landscape sits perfectly along the border between the North American and European tectonic plates.Book a tourThere is the option of both guided and self-guided tours of the park; with so much to see and do in Thingvellir, it becomes difficult to accommodate all the activities in a day. For a better experience, have your travel experts book a self-guided tour and the best possible accommodation in or around the region, so that you enjoy everything this wonderful site has to offer. How to get thereThe Thingvellir National Park is located within an hour's drive from the Reykjavík. Follow Vesturlandsvegur and Þingvallavegur to Suðurland for 24 miles and follow the signs. Alternatively you can drive through the ring road north out of Reykjavik and passing the residential town of Mosfellsbaer.How to get aroundWith no exception, walking is the only way to get around Thingvellir National Park. Since most of the major attractions are located within close proximity of each other (and near the parking lot), it just makes sense covering the national park on foot.  Things to see and do:Thingvellir ChurchKick start your Thingvellir adventure by soaking in the vibe of this historic location (by far the most popular site in the national park). Though the church was built in the 19th century, its exact location coincides with what was the national parliament of Iceland a millennium ago. Small in size, but no less beautiful for it, the church, because of its warm wooden interior, feels more like a homely chalet in a snow-capped landscape than a house of worship.You can even find a modest cemetery near the church which shelters around 30 graves, a great place for solitude amongst a handful of souls buried in their final resting place.Visitor (Information) CenterEditorial Copyrights: PeterOnce you check-in into the national park, have a look inside the state-of-the-art Visitor Centre, probably the best place to get acquainted with an overview of the history and nature of Thingvellir and its surroundings via interactive multimedia on large TV monitors that play a variety of illustrative video and audio material.Editorial Copyrights: dolbexThe exhibition is designed to make matters easy for visitors via a handy touch screen. You can even choose the language of narration (and subtitles) from a selection of 5 languages: Danish, English, German, French and Icelandic.Thingvellir tectonic platesThere is no secret that Thingvellir is known for its bizarre tectonic and volcanic environment. You can clearly see the continental drift in the cracks/faults throughout the region. It’s the only place on the planet where the rift is above sea-level, with the visible edges of both plates right drifting apart right there before your eyes (albeit too slow to see with the naked eye).You can catch the easternmost edge of the North American plate at Almannagja as it arises from the Atlantic Ocean, and view the westernmost edge of the Eurasian plate at the Heidargja Gorge. You are welcome to walk alongside both of these plates and learn how these plates are drifting apart at a rate of an inch a year!Öxarárfoss waterfallCheck out the beauty of the Öxarárfoss waterfall, certainly not the regions's largest or most powerful, but definitely one worth visiting. Some people claim it was artificially formed due to a water diversion several centuries ago to provide better access to drinking water for the political assemblies.The waterfall can be accessed by a short walk from the parking area on the eastern end of the fault line. You can also find a nice pathway and viewing deck if you don't wish to get too close.CampingSince there is no option of lodging inside the park, we wholeheartedly recommend you to pitch your own tent if you wish to stay longer; it’s the best way to see the magnificent scenery of the National park (especially during summer). The park rangers look after and maintain these impeccable campsites, so that you get the best experience possible.Editorial Copyrights: Dave GingrichThere are only two campsites in the entire park. The first one is at Leirar, which is located within a 5 minute walking distance from the Information Center; you can find the second site at Vatnskot, by Lake Thingvallavatn.Important Note: Make sure you collect your camping and angling permits from the Information Center on arrival.Go Hiking There are numerous trails that traverse the park, so you will have plenty of opportunities for hiking. From ancient meeting places to abandoned farms, it’s a great way to escape from the usual touristy paths to find some unbelievable fault lines and enchanting landscapes.Grab yourself a map and make yourself some extra time to hike around. Nothing is terribly taxing here; decent hiking shoes will enable navigation through any of the unpaved trails with comparative ease.Lake ThingvallavatnIf you head to the southern edge of Thingvellir, you will find Lake Thingvallavatn (the largest natural lake in Iceland). The area around the lake is very geologically active; you will find lava fields stretching away from the lake to the north, where the many fissures in lava make for great snorkeling (yes, a dry suit may be required, unless you possess Viking skin). Or you can even don a dry suit and take this opportunity to scuba-dive between tectonic plates which separate two continents and explore the underwater world of wonder and beauty. If you wish to partake in this adventurous activity, have your travel experts hook you up with instructors and guides.  The lake also boasts two islands whose volcanic origins are clearly evident. And the water is brimming with fresh water trouts and the arctic char (a cold-water fish in the family Salmonidae, native to alpine lakes and arctic and subarctic coastal waters), so don’t wait for a formal invitation to go fishing in the lake.Where to EatFor travelers craving for close-to-home comfort food, the service center at the national park houses a small café where you can find hot dogs, soft drinks, sandwiches, cookies, ice cream and candy. If you’re looking to try something local and authentic, there are few cafes/book-shops, located a few kilometers past the visitor information center.Plan and customise your Iceland trip here, and make sure to include a tour of this historic and sceanic natonal park of Iceland. 

Peru Travel: A Guide to Lake Titicaca

Peru is largely considered THE most quintessential destination for any traveler who wants to experience striking diversity ranging from staggering mountain ranges and ancient rainforests to the ruins of bygone civilizations. While Machu Picchu may be the most-visited destination in Peru, no trip to Peru should be considered complete unless you make the calm and majestic Lake Titicaca a part of your itinerary (which also happens to be the world's highest navigable water body, and a prominent highlight of the country).A Peru travel expert will happily customize this experience for you. And below are all the reasons why you should insist on it, to make your Peruvian experience whole.Acting as a natural border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is not only South America's largest lake, but also the world's highest navigable water body at a soaring 12,500 feet above sea level. Usually still and mellow, the deep blue water reflects the vast sky back on itself, and all along the horizon the massive Andes crane their necks towards a limitless sky. According to the Inca mythology, Lake Titicaca is considered the birthplace of the sun, and there are many unexplained ancient sayings declaring it the source of life's origins. In recent times, there has been the discovery of a large temple roughly the size of two football fields, estimated to be 1000-1500 years old, submerged in the lake and adding to its appeal and enigma. Apart from dazzling travelers with its tranquility and sheer beauty, Lake Titicaca is also known to house some aquatic and terrestrial species which are found nowhere else on Earth.  Editorial copyrights: Brad WilsonEndemic to the region is the giant Lake Titicaca Frog (Telmatobius coleus), whose skin is illusorily large compared to its body, and is one of the more exotic species of this place. Lake Titicaca also boasts a strong bird population, and is said to house more than 60 species ranging from Cormorant, Totorero to the Chilean flamingo. Because of high altitude and extreme temperatures, the menagerie of mammals is less. You can expect to catch a glimpse of Vizcacha (rodent in the chinchilla family), wild guinea pig, Andean wild wolf and the Llamas while visiting this inland sea.  Sights and attractions:Uros Islands: The resident families of these "Floating Islands" (a prominent highlight of Peru travel) welcome travelers to their abodes as they step off on the soft, springy man-made island surface. The main building blocks of the islands and their homes are the Torta reeds, and the locals will proudly explain how they weave their reeds to build thatched homes, furniture, and their canoe-style boats. Editorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.comAmantani Island: Regarded as the most attractive of all the inhabited islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca, Amantani attracts scores of curious travelers with its undeniable beauty. For dazzling views of sunrises and sunsets, visit the mountain top temples of Pacha Mama and Pacha Tata; there are truly few sunsets like an Andean sunset. Isla del Sol: Considered the mythical birthplace of the Incas, this island is on the Bolivian side and known for its ruins of a holy complex for ancient Inca priests called the "The Labyrinth". For those who want to step back in time (no cars) and catch a glimpse of locals walking past in traditional dress, along with lamas and alpacas, this is the place to be. Puno: Although not geographically located on Lake Titicaca, this folklore capital of Peru is proximately 45 miles away and is famous for its thumping festivals and raucous music-and-dancing-in-the-streets through Puno Week (November) and the Virgen de la Candelaria festivities (February). Every traveler to Lake Titicaca around Puno Week should do a stop-over here and feel the liveliness and charm of the energetic masked dancers winding their way through the city's narrow streets, portraying Peru's culture and history through song and dance. Editorial copyrights: /Shutterstock.com   Best Time To Visit: In the months of April and May after the end of rainy season; the weather is pleasant and there are fewer crowds too and thus travelers can avoid the rush. During these beautiful months, the view around Lake Titicaca is electrifying as the landscape comes alive with blooming flowers.Contact a travel expert here to include the Lake Titicaca experience into your itinerary.