Yavari Project


This is the extraordinary story of the motor-ship Yavari - 1862, in the navigable but highest lake of the world, the Titicaca.


In 1861, the Peruvian Government of Ramon Castilla, ordered two small cargo-passenger "gunboats" for Lake Titicaca. Already enjoying the wealth from the guano industry on the coast, the Government looked to exploit the natural resources of the southern highlands or altiplano region around Lake Titicaca.


Here lay the potential for trading Peruvian copper, silver, minerals and wool and timber and riches of the rainforest from Bolivia with manufactured goods from Europe. Through the agency of Anthony Gibbs & Sons, the Government commissioned the James Watt Foundry in Birmingham, England (where steam was first harnessed for industrial use) to build the ships that would collect goods from around the lake.


Without a rail link to the lake at that time, all cargo had to be carried up on mule back. Therefore, the ships were built in kit form, with no piece weighing more than 3 ½ cwts, the maximum carrying capacity of a mule.


On 15th October 1862, the "Mayola", bearing the two ships and eight British engineers from London, having rounded the Cape Horn, docked at Arica - a Peruvian port before the War of the Pacific - and discharged the packing cases and pieces of the Yavari and the Yapura, from where moved by train to Tacna, before incredibly being hauled by mule over the Andes to Puno, that took 6 years to complete.


The Peruvian Navy then faced the daunting task of getting 2,766 pieces and two crankshafts transported to Lake Titicaca, 12,500 ft. (3,810ms) above sea level.


The Yavari, as a State Registered Museum, is now berthed in Puno Bay, outside the Hotel Sonesta Posadas del Inca Puno. A 40 m. pontoon gives access to the vessel either by land or by boat, and visitors are warmly welcomed.


Open daily: 8:00 AM - 5.00 PM - Entry free - donations gratefully received.



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