The ruins of Tiahuanaco remain one of the continent's great mysteries. It is widely accepted that they were created by a civilisation that dramatically pre-dates the Incas, perhaps as far back as 1500 BC, and are believed to be amongst the oldest ruins in the world. The unusual layout of the site, thought to be closely linked to astrology, and the markings and drawings etched into the stones, have led experts the world over to offer their own opinion. But the truth is that nobody knows when this settlement came to be, how the giant stones were transported here or quite what everything signifies. A number of walls, temples, gateways and other ruins have been successfully excavated, giving visitors plenty to admire and ponder.
Tiahuanaco is 12 miles off the southern tip of Lake Titicaca and 240 metres higher in altitude, yet it is commonly believed that the settlement was actually a busy port on the shores of Lake Titicaca, a startling demonstration of how much the lake itself has shrunk over time. Indeed, the receding waters might have played an important role in the fall of the civilisation, with latest research pointing to drought as a leading contributing factor.