Puno is the Peruvian gateway to the islands of Lake Titicaca. Sunscreen is a definite recommendation for this elevated city, sitting at a bit more than 12,500ft above sea level. Incredible landscapes, rolling hills and the calm water of Lake Titicaca which reflect a clear blue sky draw every visitor in, from the first moment of arrival.The legend tells that is has been the birth of the Incan Empire started here as the first two children of the sun, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo arose from the waters to become the first pair in the Incan Dynasty.
Among the closest islands to the shores of Puno are Uros, Amantani and Taquile. Prolific along the shores of Lake Titicaca are the totora reeds, which not only provide the base from which the famous floating islands of Uros are created, but also provide a source of nutrition for the inhabitants. Just a few hours by boat to Amantani and Taquile, and you will find yourself in another world; one of little to no electricity, no cars, beautiful landscapes and some of the most beautiful tapestries that are made here, known throughout Peru for their quality and detail.
Considered the Folklore Capital of Peru´, Puno prides itself on its wealth of cultural riches: from handicrafts to celebrations and all that go along with it, including over 300 types of folkloric dance. Puno also has a rich literary tradition with several famous authors and poets hailing from the region. Fortunately for tourists, Puno is a warm and welcoming city that enjoys sharing its traditions with open arms and a smile.
Cradled amid the shores of Lake Titicaca on one side, and the crawling hills on the other, Puno has very little flat land and this is evident as the city continues to grow up the surrounding hills. Bordered on the east by Bolivia and lined by the Carabaya Cordillera to the north and the Maritime or Volcanic Cordillera to the south, the area has a unique geography.
Lake Titicaca, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world, stretches across more than 3,100 sq mi and two countries. Throughout the lake, there are more than thirty islands both man-made and natural.
Puno shares the characteristic of the Andean/Amazonian two main seasons: rainy and dry. The rainy season occurs during the summer months of November to March, with the dry season passing during the winter months of April to October. Temperatures range from 59º F/15º C to 71º F/22º C in summer to around 41º F/5º C to 60º F/16º C in winter. The thermal effect of the lake provides a slightly warmer climate for Puno than other cities in the region.
As in Cusco, the winter months are graced with blue skies and crisper temperature while the summer months see the rain. However, this is another area best to dress in layers as the evenings here are decidedly colder than the day, so be sure to have warm clothing on hand. Along with the beautiful, shining sun and high altitude, sunburn is quite common, so be sure to have plenty of sunscreen on hand as well.
Located in the city of Juliaca, this is the closest airport to the city, roughly thirty minutes away. Both LAN and Star Peru service the Juliaca airport from Lima, Cusco and Arequipa. Flights from Lima are approximately 2.5 hours and flights from Cusco or Arequipa take roughly an hour.
It is most common for travelers to arrive in Puno by bus, taking a tourist bus along the way. From Colca Canyon, 4M offers service from Chivay, lasting about six hours and stopping along the way at Lagunillas top view the wildlife as well as in Patapampas for a light lunch. From Cuzco the tourist bus, will stop to visit the church in Andahuaylillas, the Inca temple Raqchi, the highest pass on the route, La Raya, and the pre-Inca ruins of Pukara. This trip is highly scenic and takes about 9 hours including the various stops and a buffet lunch in Sicuani. Another very attractive, if more costly, option is the tourist train, Andean Explorer, which runs three times a week from Cusco - for more details ask one of our expert travel advisors.
The most convenient way to get around the city is on foot, as the center is small and all points of interest are within easy walking distance from each other. Should the altitude make walking a bit taxing, a taxi can easily be taken. Rarely should you pay any more than 3-4 soles ($1-1.50) for a taxi anywhere around town. Always be sure to settle on the price before entering the taxi as they do not run with meters. Tipping a taxi driver is not necessary.
The main city market can be found two blocks down from Parque Pino, on Arbulu Street, and is a sprawling collection of people, goods and local food. This bustling market is worth a stop to peruse the variety of products available, such as fine Alpaca products at an affordable price and souvenir reed boats, representative of the islands of Uros. Also, as Puno is the birth place of the cultivation of the potato, one can marvel at the immense selection of potatoes available at this market, from the hard, freeze-dried papa seca, to purple potatoes and yellow-orange speckled olluco tubers.
Drinking only bottled water is a good idea. There are two types of water you can buy: sin gas meaning un-carbonated, normal water, and con gas which is carbonated. Make sure to eat in good restaurants and buy fruits from quality supermarkets. If you buy fruit from a street market, take extra care to wash it very thoroughly before eating it. Important note: Peruvian tap water is not potable. It is fine to use for teeth-brushing and cooking (provided it is boiled) but should not be ingested directly from the tap.
Many travelers are affected by the high altitude in the city. It is best to avoid caffeine, smoking, or alcohol as this will amplify the effect of dehydration that altitude often induces be sure to drink lots of water as well. Munching on coca leaves or drinking coca tea is a good remedy for soroche (Altitude sickness). Medication is also available from all good pharmacies.
While petty theft is the most common offense committed against tourist, a healthy dose of common sense does everyone good. As in any big city, while out and about do not flaunt expensive belongings such as cameras, portable media players (ipods) or cellular phones. A few simple precautions can make life a lot easier. A sensible practice is to only carry with you what you will be likely to spend during the day, and keep the rest of your valuables, including documents, back at the hotel in your room safe. If you wish you carry our credit card be sure to leave another one in the safe, just in case.
To the southwest of the main square, there are two look-out points atop a steep hill providing an outstanding view of the lake and its surroundings. At the top you will find a gleaming white statue of MancoCápac, the legendary first Inca and founder of the empire. Down below, Jr. (Pasaje) Lima is a pedestrian only mall, lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, that runs from the Plaza de Armas to Parque Pino, an attractive square populated by relaxing locals.
A popular tourist stop, where the Aymaras build their houses on artificial islands, all made from the vast supply of totora reeds. The islands move with the winds and the locals even push islands together for festivals and occasionally to play a game of football.
These islands offer an opportunity to experience life in the past, sharing the life with the natives and the beautiful landscape. Visitors are offered the opportunity to enjoy a homestay on either of the islands and have the opportunity to share their ways of life and see how their splendid textiles are deftly created. Conscious of the value of true Cultural Immersion and what it means to travelers, a number of communities in Puno have opened more rural and experienced based tourism, both in the island and on land. Recommended program: 2 days /1 night.
This steamship was build in United Kingdom in 1861, and then was discharged in packing cases and pieces to the port of Arica, where incredibly it was hauled by mules over the Andes to Puno. Now registered as a museum, it is berthed in Puno Bay, outside the Sonesta Posada Hotel del Inca Puno.
The Feast in honor of Virgin of Candelaria, patron of the city of Puno, is made in the first fortnight of February each year, and represents the largest and most important cultural event, musical and dancing by Peru, and one of the three most significant in South America along with Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and the Carnaval de Oruro, in the amount of symbols and artistic and cultural manifestations of the cultures themselves Quechua, Aymara and mixed by Highlands Andean and the volume of people directly and indirectly involved in its realization.
One of the most important religious celebrations in Peru including feasts, dances, contests and colorful processions.
Each of the main streets features a miniature handicrafts market focusing on ítems one might desire to have in real life.
The anniversary is characterized by civic manifestations and school dance exhibitions throughout the citys streets. November 5th represents the creation of the Inca Empire