Latin America Travel & Tour Information
Lake Titicaca & Puno Travel Information
Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at 3.810 m above sea level and hosts many striking views attributed to its mountainous perimeter and deep blue color. This was were many a civilazation settled, such as the Tiahuanacu, the Collas, the Aymaras and the Incas. The legends tells that the first Inca ruler, Manco Capac - son of Inti the God Sun-, was born from lake Titicaca.
The beautiful city of Puno rests over Lake Titicaca, your best base camp to explore the lake and its surroundings. This city was founded near the old silver mine and still preserves interesting colonial mansions and a Spanish baroque-styled cathedral. There are some excellent look-outs here like that of Huajsapata or Kuntur Huasi mountain, from where to enjoy a view of the city and the lake, plus a trekking trail along the lake´s shore.
Puno is also known as the Capital of Peruvian Folklore, featuring no less than 300 traditional dances and several celebrations throughout the year. Many of these celebrations go as far back as the pre-columbian era and constitue an amazing display of colorful outfits and exotic masks.
An unforgettable experience lies in visiting the lake´s islets from the Puno port. The biggest attraction here is indoubtly the Uros Floating Islets. These islets are artificially built with a species of large reed that grows in the lake and are inhabited by very friendly Aymara communities. These people started to build and live in the islets hundreds of years ago in order to get away from the raids of Incas and Collas. Today, most tours go to the islets and last for about 2 hours and others going to the rest of the islets also include a brief visit to the Uros´community.
It is also possible to visit the island of Taquille, renowned for its skillfull settlers who still follow many of their ancient traditions. This tiny island holds about 2000 inhabitants, and treasures some of the lake´s best views, plus the Inca terraces and ruins that would make you want to spend the night there. The Royal Range, on the Bolivian side, rises in the distance with beautiful shiny snow-capped peaks, a sight that invites to take a break and breath in the overwhelming peace of the surrounding landscape.
Further up north lies the island of Amantani, as attractive but less known. The tours to this island are normally overnight trips. The islet´s population is around 4.000 inhabitants and if you arrive at the right time, you will enjoy the local traditional celebrations, also teeming with colorful outfits. There are two look-outs on the highest section of the islet: Pachamama (Mother Earth) and Pachatata (Father Earth), with dazzling views of the lake and the opportunity to visit some prehispanic ruins.
Puno also offers the opportunity to visit Bolivia, for the lake is shared by both countries. Copacabana, on the Bolivian shore is undoubtly one of the major destination. The town itself features an impressive basilica on the main square and beautiful beaches to stroll along. Many an excursions goes to the island of the Sun, among the best on the lake that treasures interesting ruins and can be easily covered on foot. There is a good network of restaurants and accommodation, although day tours are available.
From here you have an opportunity for a jaunt to La Paz, Bolivia´s capital city. It is an interesting place made of an intrincate maze of steep streets and alleys, as the city lies on the slope of a huge canyon. The elegant and colorful central avenue known as 'El Prado' stands out for its picturesque and well-supplied street markets. The biggest is the one called 'El Alto', though located a bit away from the center, it is definitely worth a look. Nightlife is pretty active, full of inviting bars and discoteques.The city lends itself to short walks and offers several attractions. Among them, San Francisco Cathedral, Quemado Palace, the Moon Valley, a startling rocky landscape, and the Devil´s Tooth, ideal hiking spot. Just a few miles away, lie the ruins of Tiahuanaku, former settlement of a rather developed pre-Inca culture, whose ruins are beautifully preserved in addition to the excellent local museum.