Explorers are now attempting the first circumnavigation by kayak of Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, located approximately 12,500 feet (3810 m) above sea level. They’ll follow the 684-mile (1,100 km) shoreline to gather scientific measurements of industrial pollution during the six-week trip. Most of the cities in Peru and Bolivia that surround the lake have no water treatment plants or insufficient sewage systems, and all waste either flows directly into the lake or comes in via streams and rivers.
They will also take photos to create the first photographic inventory of the lake’s shoreline that could be used in the future to compare coastal evolution, similar to current studies of retreating glaciers. By documenting pollution, and gathering testimonials from locals suffering water contamination or the retreat of the shore, they hope to attract outside support to reduce the contamination.
The expedition leader is Belgian explorer Louis-Philippe Loncke, a member of The Explorers Club, a London 2012 Olympic torchbearer, and ambassador for the Jane Goodall Institute Belgium.
Peruvian Gadiel Sanchez Rivera is notable for guiding Brit Ed Stafford along the Amazon River during his two-year-long Walking the Amazon Expedition. The documentary Walking the Amazon has since been televised on the Discovery Channel in more than 100 countries.
On Sept. 8, the Titikayak team blogged: “We are amazed people have never seen a kayak before. Even two 14-year-old kids had never seen a white man, and found it funny I had hair on my arms.”
Louis-Philippe tells Expedition News: “Like most people, I had no idea that one of the most iconic lakes on the planet is in danger, along with the people living around it. There are numerous articles about the problems, but it feels like it never gets proper attention. We need to help the towns by building infrastructures to treat water now, before it’s too late.”
The expedition carries a flag from The Explorers Club and is sponsored in-kind by Edgar Adventures, Julbo Eyewear, Powertraveller and Select Paddles, among others.
This story first appeared in Expedition News.