Attractions in Puno and Lake Titicaca
Puno is known as the “Capital folklórica del Perú”
Puno is a city in southeastern Peru, located on the shore of Titicaca lake, the world’s highest navigable lake, at 3,860 m (12,421 ft) above sea level. It is also the capital and largest city of the Puno Region and the Puno Province. The city was established in 1668 by viceroy Pedro Antonio Fernández de Castro as capital of the province of Paucarcolla with the name San Juan Bautista de Puno. The name was later changed to San Carlos de Puno, in honor of king Charles II of Spain. The city boasts several churches dating back from the colonial period, they were built to service the Spanish population and evangelize the natives.
Puno’s geography and layout is unique, it is practically squeezed into a the available land between the shores of Titicaca lake and the small mountains surroudning the city. There is less than 2 miles distance of flat land between the shores and the foothills, which has caused the growing city to continue to expand upwards onto the hillsides, sprawling along every available, or nearly habitable plot of land on which a dwelling can possibly be built. As a result the town’s less developed and poorest areas, which are high on the hillsides, often have very steep street, which are generally not paved and cannot be accessed by automobile.
Puno is known as the ” Capital folklórica del Perú”; (folkloric capital of Peru ) due to its wealth of artistic and cultural expressions, particularly dance. They are most notable during the celebrations of the Feast of the “Virgen de la Candelaria” and the Regional Competition of Autochthonous Dances. Puno’s access to Titicaca lake is surrounded by 41 floating islands. To this day, the Uros people maintain and live on these man-made islands,
depending on the lake for their survival and are a large tourist destination.
Titicaca lake is a lake located on the border of Bolivia and Peru. It sits 3,812 m (12,500 ft) above sea level making it one of the highest commercially navigable lakes in the world. By volume of water it is also the largest lake in South America
Titicaca lake is fed by rainfall and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras that abut the Altiplano. Five major river systems feed into Titicaca lake inorder of their relative flow volumes these are: Ramis, Coata, Ilave, Huancané, and Suchez. More than 20 other smaller rivers empty into Titicaca, and the lake has 41 islands, some of which are densely populated.
Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros Islands, a group of 42 or so artificial islands made of floating reeds (totora, a reed that abounds in the shallows of the lake). These islands have become a major tourist attraction for Peru, drawing excursions from the lakeside city of Puno.
Their original purpose was defensive, and they could be moved if a threat arose. Many of the islands contain watchtowers largely constructed of reeds.
Amantaní is another small island on Titicaca lake populated by Quechua speakers. About 800 families live in six villages on the roughly circular 15 square kilometres (6 sq mi) island. There are two mountain peaks, called Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), and ancient ruins on the top of both peaks. The hillsides that rise up from the lake are terraced and planted with wheat, potatoes, and vegetables. Most of the small fields are worked by hand. Long stone fences divide the fields, and cattle, sheep, and alpacas graze on the hillsides.
Amantaní island as seen from Taquile island.There are no cars on the island, and no hotels. A few small stores sell basic goods, and there is a health clinic and school. Electricity was produced by a generator and provided limited to a couple of hours each day, but with the rising price of the petroleum, they no longer use the generator. Most families use candles or flash lights powered by batteries or hand-cranks.
Some of the families on Amantaní open their homes to tourists for overnight stays and provide cooked meals, arranged through tour guides. The families who do so are required to have a special room set aside for the tourists and must fit a code by the tour companies that help them. Guests typically take food staples (cooking oil, rice, sugar) as a gift or school supplies for the children on the island. They hold nightly traditional dance shows for the tourists where they offer to dress them up in their traditional clothes and participate.
Taquile is a hilly island located 35 kilometres east of Puno. It’s narrow and long, and was used as a prison during the Spanish Colony and well into the beginning of the 20th century. In 1970 it became property of the Taquile people, who inhabit the island since then (current population around 3,000).
Taquiles have maintained their traditions and culture nearly unchanged for centuries, and are renowned in the area for their high-quality, colourful textiles. Pre-Inca ruins are found on the highest part of the island, and agricultural terraces on hillsides. The main town in the island, also called Taquile, counts a textile cooperative shop, some small restaurants, and available rooms in family houses where visitors can stay for the night.