Puno Travel and Tours Peru

Puno Tours, Travel and Adventures
Tourism in Peru

VISIT PUNO

The small port of Puno is departure point to make tours to Lake Titicaca’s various islands or to surrounding archaeological sites. The Puno town was founded on November 4, 1668, near the site of the colonial silver mine of Laykakota.

Lake Titicaca Puno - Puno City, Peru

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Visit in Puno city:

• Cathedral of Puno. Built in the 17th century, it is a fine example of Spanish Baroque, yet the architects incorporated Andean elements,
 conferring on this monument a mixed quality.

• Balcony of the Count of Lemos. Built at the end of the 17th century, it is said that the Viceroy Count of
 Lemos was given lodgings at this mansion when he arrived at the area to stamp out a rebellion. It is now a cultural center and an art gallery.

• The Museum Ship Yavarí. It is an iron ship built in Great Britain in 1862 and commissioned by the Peruvian government to patrol Lake Titicaca. It took six years to transport the 2,766 pieces from the Pacific coast to the plateau.

 The museum exhibits the original engine, equipment and other pieces, and it is currently considered the largest ship of its generation still in operation in the world.
 
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Excursions from Puno:

• Titicaca National Reserve and Lake Titicaca. The former is a protected natural area in which dozens of bird, fish and amphibian species have been recorded. The lake, resting at 12,500 fasl and controlled by both Peru and Bolivia, holds an important place in Andean mythology since, according to the legend, Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, children of the god Sun and founders of the Incan Empire, emerged from its waters. On the Peruvian side, there are several naturally formed islands, such as Amantaní, Taquile, Soto, Anapia and Suasi, as well as those built by the Uros with totora reed, each one offering different attractions.

• Uros floating islands. These number around twenty, each one inhabited by Uro-Aymara families, who still live by their venerable traditions, like fishing and game hunting. Men are skillful handlers of totora reed boats and women are
 expert knitters.

• Amantaní Island. Its population lives in nine communities and the main livelihood of the people is farming, in particular, Andean produce like potatoes, corn and oca (a tuber). The island is known for its handicrafts (beautiful textiles and stone carving) as well as for two ceremonial centers (Llacastiti and Coanos), observatories built at
 the tallest part of the island, where you can look out upon the entire lake. Inhabitants of this island offer accommodations and the possibility of sharing in their daily activities.

• Taquile Island. The friendly inhabitants of this island have maintained their customs, traditions and manner of dress in spite of contact with the modern world. They have distinguished themselves through their painstakingly superb weaving, proclaimed a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO. It is also possible to stay in family houses.

• Chucuito. Known as the “city of the royal treasury” since it was the tax collection center during the Colony, it possesses significant examples of architecture in the main square and in two Renaissance churches: Saint Dominic, the oldest in the Altiplano (dating back to 1534) and Our Lady of the Assumption (dating back to the 17th century). Also found in this district is the Inca Uyo archeological site, Incan in origin and made from stone; it is thought to have been an observatory and a center for a fertility cult to the Mother Earth.

• Sillustani Archeological Complex. It is located at the shores of Lake Umayo and is famous for its chullpas or circular stone structures, where the ancient dwellers buried their dead.

• Capachica Peninsula. It is located across from the Chucuito Peninsula and is virtually surrounded by Lake Titicaca. From the Allan Pucará natural observatory, the highest spot on the peninsula, you can easily see the vast and colorful landscape of the lake and some towns like Tilaly, Moho, Pusi, Juliaca, Huancané, Paucarcolla, Puno, Chucuito, Juli, Pomata and Copacabana (the latter in Bolivia). It features a pleasant microclimate because the lake reduces the effects of the harsh Altiplano weather.

• Llachón. It is a community of some 1,300 inhabitants who still keep their native cultural customs and expressions. The residents have adapted their houses so as to offer comfortable lodging to visitors. You can get to this community by boat from Puno and from the islands of Taquile or Amantaní, or by car/bus from Puno and Juliaca.

• Juli. A picturesque town, founded in 1534 by the Dominicans and later occupied by the Jesuits, who turned the town into a strategic center for training missionaries heading towards Paraguay or Bolivia. It is known as the “Little Rome of the Americas” for its churches, some having gained fame because of their Baroque style. Churches like Saint Peter, Saint John Lateran, Holy Cross and Our Lady of the Assumption are also keepers of remarkable stone sculptures, wood carvings, paintings and canvasses from renowned Colonial artists.

• Cutimbo Chullpas. It is one of the most important pre-Hispanic cemeteries on the Altiplano and is associated with the Lupacas and Collas peoples, evidenced by ancient cave paintings which range in age from 6,000 B.C. to the Late Intermediate (1,100 A.D. – 1,450 A.D.) and the Inca period (1,450 A.D. – 1,532 A.D.). The main characteristics are its large chullpas (storehouses), some of them square shaped and carved with images of alligators, monkeys, snakes and cats.

• Pomata. Also called the “Altiplano Balcony for Reflection” because the stunning landscape invites one to contemplate and to meditate. It is famous for its Church of Saint James the Apostle because its façade teems with indigenous motifs and it possesses a wood carved cupola.

• Lampa. It is known as the “Pink City” because of the color of its walls. In the nearby district, there is a chinchilla farm, the K’ell K’ello queñual tree forest, the Lensora rock paintings and a replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà.

• Pucará. It is famous for its tradition of producing fine ceramics, especially the Toritos de Pucará (little bulls). From this town it is possible to visit the Kalasaya archeological complex, a ceremonial center from the Pucará culture, which was built around 200 B.C.

• Moho. It is considered the “Garden of the Altiplano” on account of its warm microclimate and variety of roses.
 Nearby is the village of Conima with its well-known church Saint Michael the Archangel.

• Cambria and Suasi Island. It is a little village on the shores of Lake Titicaca, where you can actually work in the farms, take part in a day of fishing on the lake and watch as weaving is being done. From there, you can take a row boat to Suasi Island, which has an ecological lodge entirely powered with solar energy.

• Wiñaymarca Archipelago – Anapia Island. Located on Lake Titicaca’s international border between Peru and Bolivia, Lake Wiñaymarca (smaller and to the south of Lake Titicaca, connected to it by the Tiquina Strait), encircles an archipelago where you can find vicuñas, lodges with vistas of Lake Titicaca and the gorgeous Real Boliviana Cordillera (Royal Bolivian Mountain Range).

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WHEN

Our Lady of Candlemas Festival. First fortnight in February. It is the most important festival in the department, celebrated for one entire week with non-stop displays of traditional dances, like the diablada, morenada, llamerada and hundreds of others. Over 140 dance groups, more than 40,000 dancers and 12,000 musicians take part in it.
 
Festival of the Alacitas and the Crosses. May 3rd and 4th. It is a special occasion in which the inhabitants sell miniature handicrafts in street fairs.
 
Anniversary of the founding of the city of Puno. November 4th. Performed is the legend of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, founders of Cusco and of the Incan Empire. There are also expressions of civic pride and exhibitions of native dances.

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PUNO.

“Gaze upon the waters of Lake Titicaca and see the beauty of its colorful and festive little villages.”

A visitor arrives in Puno with one look on his face and leaves with an entirely different one, more real and lasting. Maybe it is the humbling presence of the Titicaca, out of whose sparkling waters rise ancient legends. Or, perhaps it is the fantastic looking Sillustani chullpas (burial towers) lining the lake shore. Who knows.

 The splendor of its churches is equally hard to forget, such as Saint Dominic in Chucuito, built in 1534 and being the first and oldest church on this high plateau. It is also likely that Puno’s enchantment rests in its people, their reserved nature, yet their joy and the way they welcome visitors. Maybe it is all the aforementioned reasons added together.

 Puno is a land that never stops surprising. It may be the aluminum rooftops that compete in shimmer with the blue steel lake waters in the sunlight, or the fact that the city relishes its provincial mood, its Aymara and Quechua soul and a legendary connection to its greatest treasure – the sacred lake of the Incas and its wonderful islands, which covers the eyes of its visitors with a special magic.

But not everything down there is simple observation. Puno is a city on the move every day of the year; it is hard not to find a festival, like the one celebrating Our Lady of Candlemas, where dancers rock the stones of the Altiplano. Wearing brightly colored outfits, showy costumes and intricate masks, dancers twist and turn to the beat of the music, punctuated with drums and reed pipes, as if they were thanking the earth and the sky for all their blessings.

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“Puno is known as the Capital City of Peruvian Folklore because it gathers together multiple cultural expressions of the Altiplano.”

Routes & length of stay

City of Puno.

  •  The islands – Uros and Taquile.
  •  Chucuito, Juli and Pomata.
  •  Sillustani and Cutimbo.
  •  Lampa, Tinajani and Pucará.
  •  Llachón.
  •  Capachica Peninsula (Llachón and Tikonata Island).
  •  The Uros – Amantaní and Taquile islands.


1 Titicaca Lake
2 Chullpas of Sillustani
3 Chucuito
 

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Accommodation and tourist services

Puno has hotels and hostels that cover all the categories. On the islands of Taquile and Amantaní, there are family-run guest houses and they have built an ecological lodge on Suasi Island. On Anapia Island, local inhabitants offer accommodations in their homes.

Guided visits to the city and its surroundings are offered, and you can take a boat ride to the many islands found on the lake, such as Taquile, Amantaní, Uros, Anapia and Suasi.

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Recommended for

Devotees of experiential tourism, who will enjoy visiting the islands of Taquile, Amantari and Tikonta as well as the town of Llachón.

Archaeology aficionados, who should not miss visiting the Sillustani and Cutimbo complexes.
 Admirers of religious monuments, who will be able to admire churches in the towns of Juli, Chucuito and Lampa, as well as in Puno.

 Popular tradition enthusiasts, who can take part in the Our Lady of Candlemas festival, one of the most important in Peru.
 Handicraft collectors, who can buy souvenirs in markets and shops in Puno and also on the Uros islands. Unique pottery can be purchased in Pucará.

Wildlife lovers, who will be astonished by the vicuñas on the islands of Umayo and Anapia. Then there is the lake itself, where they will find native fish, amphibian, and bird species, like the Titicaca grebe.
 Adventure sport aficionados, who will be able to kayak on the world’s highest navigable lake and also mountain bike on trails above 9840 fasl. Also offered is sport fishing on the lake.

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What to buy?

Main crafts made in the area are textiles and other garments made out from alpaca, llama and sheep’s wool. Also made there are traditional musical instruments, like the siku (wind instrument) and the charango (guitar-like instrument). In regards to pottery, the most interesting pieces are the Toritos de Pucará (little bull statues) and the Ekeko, a statue that has good luck charms hung on it.

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What to eat?

Puno is the realm of the nourishing ram’s head soup, which you eat by slurping small and steamy sips so your body gets used to the harsh weather of the Altiplano. Traditional dishes from Puno include ingredients found throughout the Andean region, like cheese, potatoes, quinoa, mutton, pork and alpaca. Exotic products from Lake Titicaca, like silverfish (which come from Argentina) and trout (from North America) have been perfectly assimilated into the people’s diet and to restaurants. The city of Puno offers a range of different restaurants, serving a wide array of food, but most people prefer pasta, meat, soups and creams.

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Special recommendations

Once you have gotten to Puno, we recommend that you take care the first day so you are not affected by soroche or altitude sickness, especially if you flew in.

 The remedy is simple: eat light food, take it easy, drink plenty of water and order coca leaf (mate de coca).

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Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is a lake located on the border of Peru and Bolivia. It sits 3,811 m (12,500 ft) above sea level, making it the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. By volume of water, it is also the largest lake in South America (Lake Maracaibo has a larger surface area, but it is often disregarded as it is directly connected to the sea).

The lake is located at the northern end of the endorheic Altiplano basin high in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia. The western part of the lake lies within the Puno Region of Peru, and the eastern side is located in the Bolivian La Paz Department.

The lake is composed of two nearly separate sub-basins that are connected by the Strait of Tiquina which is 800 m (2,620 ft) across at the narrowest point. The larger sub-basin, Lago Grande (also called Lago Chucuito) has a mean depth of 135 m (443 ft) and a maximum depth of 284 m (932 ft). The smaller sub-basin, Winaymarka (also called Lago Pequeño, "little lake") has a mean depth of 9 m (30 ft) and a maximum depth of 40 m (131 ft). The overall average depth of the lake is 107 m (351 ft).

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