Lake Tota

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Lake Tota
Laguna de Tota.jpg
Satellite view. Aquitania is the town on the right
Location Boyacá
Coordinates 5°32′N 72°55′W / 5.54°N 72.92°W / 5.54; -72.92Coordinates: 5°32′N 72°55′W / 5.54°N 72.92°W / 5.54; -72.92
Basin countries Colombia
Max. length 12 km
Max. width 7.2 km
Surface area 55 km2
Max. depth 62 m
Surface elevation 3015 m
Islands San Pedro, Sto. Domingo, La Custodia, Sta. Helena, Cerro Chico
Settlements Aquitania

Lake Tota (Spanish: Lago de Tota), the largest lake in Colombia, located in the east of Boyacá department, inside the Province of Sugamuxi[1], it is the source of the Upia River which flows into the Orinoco River basin.

Lake Tota
Tota landscape
View of the shore

The major town on the lake is Aquitania, located on its eastern side. Other nearby villages include Tota, Iza and Cuitiva.

Lake Tota was an important religious center for the Muisca culture. The name “Tota” comes from ancient times, from the indigenous Muisca culture; and according to a scientific linguist (Mariana Escribano) its main name meaning stands for “Astronomic Observatory”, relating to its sacred uses for that culture. There are legends which relate to the way that lake was formed by the hands of ancient ancestors.

The area around Lake Tota is one of the major onion producing regions of Colombia.

The average water temperature of 13°C allowed for the introduction of rainbow trout (Onchorynchus mykiss) which created a valuable wild fishery (a mounted specimen in Restaurante Lucho, Aquitania, reportedly early in the 90's, weighed 7 kg) and cage culture aquaculture, but predation on native fish species as led to the now accepted extinction of the pez graso or grease fish (Rhizosomichthys totae) believed native to only this lake.

Lake Tota is a breeding ground for several threatened or endangered bird species, including the least bittern (Ixobrychus exilis bogotensis), the Colombian ruddy duck (Oxyura jamaicensis andina), the Bogotá rail (Rallus semiplumbeus) and Apolinar's wren (Cistothorus apolinari). The last confirmed sighting of the Colombian grebe (Podiceps andinus), now considered to be extinct, was at Lake Tota.[2]


Lake Tota consists of an area of 55.1 kilometers squared, with a length of 11.8 kilometers squared, a width of 6.2 kilometers and a depth of 58 meters being the largest natural lake in Colombia.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ From the WWN in Wetland Globes awards: Lago de Tota, Colombia - Type and key characteristics. See also fact sheet CO085 from Bird Life International, for Lake Tota: Lake Tota on BLI
  2. ^ Lake Tota in the Province of Sugamuxi, videos and more information.