Altitude: 3,800-m/12,500 ft. above sea level.
The department of Puno is located in the southeastern region of the country. It has a rough topography with most of its cities located in the Sierra. It borders to the north with Madre de Dios, to the south with Tacna, to the east with Bolivia, and to the west with Cusco, Arequipa and Moquegua. Puno has an extension of 72,382 km² and a population of over 1’000,000 people. The weather is cold and dry, with an annual average temperature of 9°C/48°F, going down to 3°C (37°F) during the winter. The capital is Puno, located on the shores of Lake Titicaca and at 3,827 m.a.s.l./12,555 ft. Juliaca, Azangaro, Huancane, Lampa and Yunguyo are among the most important cities.
A Brief History
In ancient times, Aymara groups (Collas, Zapanas, Kallahuayos and Lupacas) inhabited the Collao plateau. Later on came the Quechuas. According to chronicler Garcilaso de la Vega, these ancient times coincide with the legend of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, who emerged from the waters of the Lake Titicaca to found the Inca Empire. The Aymara culture, also known as Putina, was the most important and influential pre-Hispanic culture in the region. In 1870, the railway route Arequipa-Puno was installed and navigation in Lake Titicaca started.
Main Attractions in Puno
Completed in the seventeenth century, it stands out for the quality of its structure and the engravings in stone.
Small town located 18 km from Puno. This place is rich in archaeological remains. From its colonial past it is possible to appreciate the temples of Santo Domingo and La Asunción. In the Santo Domingo Square there is a pre-Hispanic remain called “Inca Uyo” or “Phallic Temple”.
Necropolis of Sillustani
These ruins or “Chullpas” are located about 32 km from Puno, on the road to Juliaca and are one of the best in the region. These circular stone towers, which overlook a small lake, are huge funerary monuments built by the Collas to keep their mortal remains. Each structure is at least 12 meters high. The way they were built, with a smaller diameter in the base than at the top challenges the laws of equilibrium.
At a distance of 75 km from Puno on the road to La Paz (Bolivia), Juli is famous for its beautiful churches built during the 17th and 18th centuries by Jesuits who established one of their main seminaries on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
This church dating from the 18th century, is located in front of an esplanade with a beautiful view of the Lake and Copacabana peninsula. Its interior is one of the finest of all Peru’s churches.
In this small town, 104 km from Puno, semicircular underground temples similar to those found in Tiwanacu were found. This place is also known for the artisan work in ceramics.
It is the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface of 8,560 km² and a maximum depth of 227-mt/744 ft. It also stands out for the transparency of its waters. There are 36 islands, the most important are Taquile and Amantani. It houses a great variety of birds (flamingos, huallatas, keles, and tiquis), and fish (trout’s, carachis, pejerreyes, suches and ispis), among others.
The Uros Floating Islands
A group of 40 floating islands formed by totora reeds. Its inhabitants are part of one of the oldest cultures in the continent. They live the way their ancestors did, strictly keeping to their customs and idiosyncrasy.
The local people are farmers and have developed an original form of communal tourism. They receive visitors and share their food, housing, customs and traditions.
Houses archeological ruins located atop the hills. These were sites for religious rites and adoration.It is possible to stay for overnight at one of the islanders’ houses.