Kayakers Complete Lake Titicaca Circumnavigation

Kayakers Complete Lake Titicaca Circumnavigation

Posted: Oct 19, 2013 07:54 pm EDT

(Kyle Henning) Two kayakers completed the world’s first close-shore circumnavigation of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, after 38 days of paddling. Belgian expedition leader Louis-Philippe Loncke and Peruvian partner Gadiel Sanchez Rivera, aka “Cho”, paddled two kayaks 1100km around the lake, staying within 100 meters of the shore. Their start and end point was the city of Puno, Peru on the northwest shore.


Lake Titicaca lies between the borders of Peru and Bolivia in the Andes Mountains at 3812 meters elevation. It is considered the highest navigable lake in the world, as its average depth of 107 meters allows for the draft of large commercial vessels.


TitiKayak served not only as an adventure, but also collected scientific data. The water is at its lowest level since 1949. Shortened rainy seasons and receding glaciers have caused the surface to drop 81cm since 2000. The duo navigated as close to the shore as possible, taking hundreds of GPS coordinates and thousands of photos to record the location of the current coastline. Loncke and Cho hope that the data can be used as reference points for future comparisons of water levels if it continues to drop.


Growing coastal and island populations are leading to increased pollution of the continents largest source of fresh water. In conjunction with the lowering water levels, the habitat of the endangered Lake Titicaca freshwater frog is disappearing. The team photographed frogs and their habitats for scientific research, often diving into cold water for photographs.


Loncke and Cho faced cold temperatures, high waves, and suspicious border officials during their circumnavigation. Loncke had a close call when his kayak, loaded with 65kg of gear, nearly capsized and rolled over him. Coastal red grass growing in shallow waters made navigating the coast difficult, but granted access to the frogs.


After completing the circumnavigation, Loncke left joined Rocky Contos for one week on a paddle of the Rio Marañon in Peru, the mainstream source of the Amazon River. He is currently looking for experienced climbing partners for an ascent of Ojos del Salado.


Louis-Philippe Loncke is an Explorers Club member and ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institue in Belgium. He has crossed the Tasmanian Wilderness, the Simpson Desert (Australia), and the whole of Iceland on foot. His journeys served as research for Maison des Sciences de l’homme in France for studies about stress and decision-making in extreme environments.


“Cho” Gadiel Sanchez Rivera is a guide, forestry worker, and jungle expert. He served as the guide for British explorer Ed Stafford during his two-year walk of the Amazon River.


Louis-Philippe Loncke's website is currently under repair. All updates are at his blog.


Previous from ExplorersWeb:


TitiKayak Expedition


ExWeb Interview with Ed Stafford, Amazon Walker




Loncke, left, and Cho with the Explorers Club flag after returning to Puno, Peru
courtesy Louis-Philippe Loncke, SOURCE
Loncke with endangered Lake Titicaca Freshwater Frog
courtesy Louis-Philippe Loncke, SOURCE
Loncke and Cho in Pamata after waiting out a two-day storm
courtesy Louis-Philippe Loncke, SOURCE
Accomadations ranged from coastal resorts to remote camping
courtesy Louis-Philippe Loncke, SOURCE
Loncke, left, with Cho packing for 38 days of paddling
courtesy Louis-Philippe Loncke, SOURCE