Why travel to Lake Titicaca
At 12,397 feet (3,809 meters) above sea level, Puno provides a gateway to the gorgeous Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. The region’s natural wonders and the intriguing, deep-rooted indigenous communities that have made this unique environment their home, make Puno & Lake Titicaca top destinations for Peru travel.
Ancient legend has it that the first children of the Sun, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, emerged from the shimmering blue depths of the lake. The Sun God, Inti, bade his children to walk until they found a place where Manco Capac could sink a gold staff into the earth. This place was Cusco, where the pair settled down, and where their descendants went on to build the mighty Tahuantinsuyo, better known as the Inca Empire.
But the high Andean region around Puno remained inhabited, its history continuing to evolve and develop, occasionally becoming swept up in waves of conquest that altered native communities but never succeeded in vanquishing them. Local inhabitants have retained their forefathers’ mastery of architecture, stonework, ceramics, and textiles – to witness such resilience is perhaps one of the most striking features of travel to Lake Titicaca.
Travel to Puno and you will see Quechua and Aymara communities that continue to live from the natural resources of the immense Lake Titicaca, a source of abundant freshwater trout. The Aymara culture dominates the region, both in terms of ancestry and spoken language, and spans the entire altiplano (high plateau) of Bolivia and southeastern Peru.
Nowadays Puno is proudly referred to as the folkloric capital of Peru due to its rich artistic inheritance, including more than 300 ethnic dances that are performed during festivals such as the Fiesta de la Virgen de Candelaria, which is itself a shining example of the merger between indigenous and European cultural practices. The visual spectacle of moving bodies, costumed in brilliant outfits, is one of Peru’s most exciting historical and cultural traditions.
There is no shortage of treasures for a culture-loving traveler to discover on a tour to Puno & Lake Titicaca. Interestingly – and in contrast to the rest of the Andean region – it is the men and boys who weave the fabulous textiles on the wonderful Taquile Island, one of the many islands of the lake. A tour of Lake Titicaca provides unique insight into the lives and traditions of these fascinating communities.
What to do in Lake Titicaca & Puno
The city of Puno is a former Spanish outpost and houses numerous colonial-era attractions, most notably the grand Cathedral constructed in the 17th century, which displays a conspicuous blend of Spanish and Andean styles in its architecture and decoration.
The most breathtaking and cherished attraction in Puno is without a doubt Lake Titicaca and the idyllic islands that dot its surface. The 5,318-square-mile cobalt-colored lake reflects the azure sky to produce a dazzling spectacle at sunrise and sunset. It would seem that the lake stretches on forever – were it not for the panorama of snow-capped mountains that stand like sentinels on the distant, opposite shore. It is said that, when seen from above, the lake looks like a Puma hunting a rabbit. Have a look and see what you think.
Uros Islands. The floating Uros Islands can be easily reached from Puno by boat. These islands are man-made, woven and re-woven by hand by the islanders that inhabit them. The floating islands are constructed from the Totora reeds that grow on the lake. Old and damaged reeds are replaced in a continual process of maintenance and restoration. Uros is comprised of about 40 islands, but the total number varies over time. Old islands are abandoned and new ones are eventually built to replace them. Between 3 and 10 families live on each island. The resourceful inhabitants use totora reeds in nearly every aspect of their existence, from the construction of homes and boats, to use as firewood and also as a dietary supplement.
Amantani Island. Travelers can also visit the island of Amantani and the native population of Quechua-speaking inhabitants. Spend the night on the island with a host family or at a lodge – either option provides a great opportunity to interact with the warm and hospitable islanders and to learn about their daily lives.
Taquile Island. Another beautiful destination that beckons the curious traveler is Taquile Island. The island still bears vestiges of a pre-Incan past. Used as a political prison during the colonial times until the 20th century, this island became the exclusive property of its inhabitants around 1970. The intricate and brightly-colored textiles produced here reflect the inhabitants’ Andean beliefs, myths, and ways of life.
When to visit Lake Titicaca
At any time of year, in Puno & Lake Titicaca there is a great divergence in temperatures during the day and at night. Your packing list should include sunscreen, shorts, and t-shirts for sunny days and sweaters or fleece for the chilly nights. Generally temperatures are quite warm in the daytime, but can get cool if it’s rainy, windy or cloudy, and temperatures always plunge to nearly freezing at night.
The best time to visit the area is from May to October, when days are sunny and rain showers infrequent. The warmest days are between November and February; however, a warmer climate also comes with a higher chance of rain showers.
In February, locals celebrate the joyful Festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria and Puno fills with merrymaking in the form of parades, music, and people in a party spirit.
We just wanted to thank you for such a wonderfully arranged trip for our recent honeymoon. We couldn't have imagined that our trip to Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu via the abbreviated Inca Trail, and Lake Titicaca could have been any better.
Katie and Ben Oshrine (Maryland, USA) traveled to Lake Titicaca in April 2011
The changes were actually positive. Although our tour of Lake Titicaca was shortened it was better, in that with only Henry and us, the visit to Taquile and Uros Island were much more intimate. The trip on the Andean Explorer was marvelous. We loved it and would recommend it to anyone. What a great way to travel.
Bob & Barb Baldwin (USA) traveled to Lake Titicaca in February 2011
Alexander, our guide from Puno, was also superb. He took us to an Uros Island further from Puno, so there were no other tours there. We really appreciated that Alexander knew how to bring us away from touristy places and closer to the people.
Verena & Bill (Ottawa, Canada)
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Top Pick Puno Hotel
Hotel Libertador Puno 5*
Isla Esteves s/n , Puno
Hotel Libertador Puno is a luxurious low-rise hotel located about 3 miles from Puno city proper and nestled on the shores of a private peninsula that extends into Lake Titicaca. For travelers who enjoy tranquility in a lovely setting and in combination with high quality services, this elegant hotel is, without a doubt, one of the area's most well-appointed lodging options. All 123 guest rooms are comfortable, tastefully decorated, and equipped with the latest modern amenities. In addition, all rooms, as well as well as the restaurant, boast splendid views of the shimmering Lake Titicaca and its islands. Continually lauded for the excellence of its expert staff, this hotel is an all-around top choice in Puno hotels.
RestaurantRoom Service Internet Laundry Service Gift Shop Gym Spa
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Casa Andina Private Collection Puno 4*
Avenida Sesqui Centenario 1970 – 1972, Sector Huaje, Puno
This upscale hotel in Puno features an amazing gourmet restaurant, bar and terrace all boasting magnificent views of Lake Titicaca. The traditional Andean architectural theme of Casa Andina Private Collection Puno comes off as understated elegance, where obvious care has been taken to allow the spectacular surroundings to speak for themselves. Rooms are sophisticatedly furnished in a classic style, and most of them feature attractive wooden balconies with views to the lake. A private dock makes this Puno accommodation the perfect launching point for the spectacular Suasi Island, location of the equally exceptional sister hotel, Casa Andina Private Collection Suasi.
Internet Laundry Service Restaurant Room Service
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Eco Inn Puno 3*
Avenida Chulluni 195, Puno
An excellent choice in Lake Titicaca hotels, Eco Inn Puno is managed by Interamerican Promo Hotels, a worldwide great value and high quality chain. As expected, this modern hotel offers great comfort and excellent service at affordable prices. All rooms are appointed with modern wooden furnishings for an inviting, impeccably kept feel and are also equipped with modern amenities including Internet access, cable television, telephone, safe deposit box, and more. This comfortable hotel is located on open grounds, away from the hustle of Puno's main square, allowing guests to soak in the energizing tranquility of the lake.
Gift Shop Restaurant Internet Laundry Service
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