Lake Titicaca is one of the largest lakes in South America being more than 115 miles in length and over fifty miles across at its widest point.
Although over 12,500 feet above sea level and at least 200 miles from the coast, it is also home to a small fleet of ships which makes it the highest navigable waterway in the world.
Ernesto “Che” Guevara (seen above), as a young student, crossed Lake Titicaca aboard one of these steamers.
The two largest steamships to ply their trade across these remote waters in the twentieth century were the Inca (1800 tons) and the Ollanta (2000 tons). The Ollanta is still there, a testament to the engineers who designed and built her.
Although these ships are part and parcel of Lake Titicaca’s rich history, their origins lie far from the Andes or indeed from South America. Both began life on the Humber foreshore, no more than a stone’s throw from the mouth of the River Hull, in the vicinity of what is now the Victoria Dock Estate. This is the story of these vessels and the men who built them.