CITY OF PUNO
Peru Folkloric Capital City offers important tourist, natural and cultural resources, such as the Cathedral, with its imposing Main Altar, built during the 17th century, the Count of Lemus Balcony, also from that same time period, where currently is situated Puno’s National Institute for Cultures Cultural Complex, the Dreyer Museum which presents a collection of ceramic pieces, goldsmith work and textiles, as well as pre-Incan and Incan sculptures, the historical Deustua Arch, built with cut stones, the emblematic Mount Huajsapata; the natural vantage point overlooking the city and Lake Titicaca, the Casa del Corregidor (Correctors House); a 17th century colonial mansion, converted today, in Punos Art Exposition House and the old mansion of the Glorious San Carlos, founded by the Liberator Simón Bolivar, among many other ancestral and contemporaneous relics.
Among the religious manifestations, the festivities of the Candelaria Virgin are very pompous and gather great crowds, with expressions of Catholic faith, folkloric dances, typical regional food and celebrations, with much fun, during the month of February.
Lake Titicaca National Reserve, jewel of the Peruvian and Bolivian high plateaus, contains the world highest navigable lake which is situated in the Region of Puno, on the Peruvian side, at an altitude of 3,800 m.a.s.l. It has a water surface of 8,562 km², with many islands inhabited by Quechua and Aymara native populations. The Titicaca is 204 km. in length and 65 km. in its width, 55.73% of which belongs to Peru and 44.27%, to Bolivia. It is an ecosystem which has a rich and varied range of bird species, mainly composed of different kinds of ducks, as well as a great variety of fish and batrachians like the suche, carachi, the trout, pejerrey (Atherine) and giant frog. In addition, it has an interesting flora represented by 12 varieties of aquatic plants and a flora on its shores, with over 64 plant genders.
This lake is the main economic motor for the populations settled on its shores, islands and surroundings. The tourist and cultural activities, along with that of commercial trading, among the border populations between Peru and Bolivia, are very much related to Lake Titicacas influence. The islands´ ancestral native populations are important ethnic groups dedicated to agricultural and animal breeding activities, as well as to fishing and handicraft, maintaining their traditional ancestral customs, and more recently, they have been incorporated to live experience tourism activities.
Due regard to archaeology, each island possesses historical and monumental remains of pre-Incan and Incan cultures, with sacred and ceremonial enclosures which are still being used by Andean priests, for offering rites to the Pachamama or Mother Earth, in thanks for the earths fertility, as one more of the Andean cosmo-vision elements that come from their ancestors.
As far as tourism is concerned, it has reached a remarkable development, with an important motorized boat infrastructure, from small boats, to catamaran cruisers, jetfoil boats, totora boats and canoes or caballitos de totora (Totora small horses), which offer their services to thousands of tourists, interconnecting tours to the different islands. In other words, there is a dynamic and prosperous activity on and around Lake Titicaca.
Sillustani Archaeological Complex is located on a high plateau, at 3,900 m.a.s.l. and about 30 km. from the city of Puno. It is one of the largest and most admirable pre-Incan necropolis with its monumental and gigantic Chullpas which are circular stone towers, many of which are over 12 meters high and have a greater diameter in their upper part, than at the base, challenging the laws of physics. It is said that it was the ancient Qollas´ cemetery. There are about 90 chullpas disseminated on an area of 150 hectares, combining with the landscape that borders the Umayo Lagoon.
FLOATING UROS ISLANDS
The Floating Islands of the Uros are situated on Lake Titicaca; the world highest navigable lake (3,827 m.a.s.l.), 14 km. from the port of the city of Puno, and the motorized boat trip lasts 20 to 30 minutes. These islands are made and inhabited by one of América most ancient people dedicated to handicraft production, hunting, fishing and taxidermy. They form a group of 60 islands, built with the abundant totora (Cattail aquatic plant) existing in the lake. These Aymara and Quechua people are very welcoming and their handicraft, and especially carpets, wool items and stuffed animals are very much appreciated and can be purchased at moderate prices.
It is located 36 km. North-east of Puno Bay and has a total surface of 9 km², at an altitude of 3,817 m.a.s.l. and the motorized boat trip takes 3 hours and a half, from Puno to Amantaní.
Amantaní Island is also known as Love Island, as it is especially delightful. There, one can perceive the Andean cosmo-vision positive energy, and its population is composed of eight native Quechua communities mainly dedicated to agriculture, poultry breeding and handicraft work. They are great hosts and you can share their customs, live experiences and typical food. Their handicraft and textile art are very much appreciated, as well as their stone carving work, ceramics and other decorative or utilitarian items. On the island upper part, there are two natural vantage points from which one has the broadest view of the lake in its full extension.
Regarding archaeology, one can observe two pre-Incan temples dedicated to the earths fertility. These are sacred places built on different hills and still used for ritual ceremonies. In addition, there still are other pre-Hispanic enclosures and a cemetery of mummies. Really, Amantaní is a beautiful and unforgettable place.
This island is located 35 km. East of Puno Bay, facing the Capachica Peninsula (Quechuas) and the Chucuito Peninsula (Aymaras). It has a total surface of 11 km² and the village is situated on the island upper part, at 4,050 m.a.s.l. and 240 meters above the level of Lake Titicaca which means Stone Puma.
The motorized boat trip between Puno and Taquile lasts about 3 hours. Normally, one gets to the port of Chilkano, to land next to the 532 steps that must be ascended, to get to the village itself, which takes about 25 minutes. But, as a reward, this effort will allow us to penetrate in a different world, where one meets with the past, present and future. The island has great ethnical and cultural value, as its inhabitants are clearly Quechua, mainly dedicated to handicraft, fishing, light agriculture and tourism meanwhile they remain very attached to their ancestral traditions and customs. There is a handicraft market, where Taquile textile art stands out.
There also are pre-Incan and Incan archaeological sites, with sacred places, such as Mulsina; a ceremonial and ritual center for offerings to the Pachamama (Mother Earth). Without a doubt, Taquile is a magical live culture place, with wonderful views of its enchanting beaches.
It is one of the most beautiful and fascinating islands on Lake Titicaca. It is privately managed in an efficient way, offering visitors alternatives to participate in ecological tourism activities, such as hikes on trails around the island, visits to protected areas, to observe flora and wild bird species, visits to Andean crop growing areas and land parcels with medicinal plants, totora boat rides around the island and walks on the beach. On the island, there is a well equipped hotel which totally works with solar energy and has telephone and Internet connection.
It is recommendable to get to Suasi by boat and return to Puno or Juliaca, by van, on a compacted dirt road which runs along Lake Titicaca shore, with spectacular panoramic views of beautiful places. The island connection with the road is taken care of by means of a very short boat ride.
Llachón is a different people, in their clothes, customs, artistic and cultural manifestations, productive activities and relations with foreigners. It is a participative people in community chores, in which visitors can participate. Indeed, one can participate in several cultural, recreational and sports activities. For example, we will go on a 3 km. hike the Akikarus Hill, where is located the Inkakancha ritual and ceremonial center; an Incan Sacred Site, composed of two stone tables; one rectangular and the other circular, which is still being used today in Incan ancestral practices to make invocations and pay tributes to the Pachamama (Mother Earth, in thanks for the earths fertility. Without a doubt it is a Sacred Place with lots of Energy.