As with all Spanish colonial cities the Plaza de Armas is to be found in the centre of town. It is also lways the locaion of the cathedral
The Catedral Basílica San Carlos Borromeo or Puno Cathedral is a Andean Baroque cathedral
built in 1757.
The Plaza is at one end of the pedestrian mall - Lima Street.
It was late afternoon when I visited the Plaza and the sun was in the wrong position for photos.
The age old question when is a llama a llama and not an alpaca?
They are both camelids of South America and a first glance look the same.
Llamas have curved ears, and a tail set high on the rear that gives the appearance of being held upright. They are usually larger and have coarser wool.
Alpacas have smaller curved ears and their tail is set lower and is often not distinguisable from the body. Their wool is fine.
Lima Street is the name of the pedestrian mall in Puno. It is here that you can find all types of shops, banks and many restaurants.
While busy during the day it is at night that the street really comes alive.
Lima Street is at the bottom of Plaza de Armas as you face the cathedral. It continues to the right and ends at Pino Park.
The Uros are ancestors of a pre-Incan people who chose to live on floating reed-islands in Lake Titicaca. They create 'land' by using totora reeds to make large flat boats/mats or islands. The original purpose of the islands was defensive - they could be moved. Now they are anchoredin place.
There are around 2000 descendents of the original Uros and while most live on the mainland a few hundred still call the islands home.
Each island supports a family unit. Children attend primary school on a neighbouring island and secondary school on the mainland.
Modern technology is most welcome and each island community has solar panels to run televisions, radios and computers! Tourism provides financial support but take time away from the crucial job of replenishing the reeds and maintaining the islands.
A single island will entertain at least one group of tourists per day - explaining family life, how the islands are made and maintained, local arts and farming and animal husbandry. There is a display of local crafts to buy and boat rides on reed boats (thought to be the inspiration for Thor Heyerdahl of Kon Tiki fame). It is a shame to see tourism encroaching on their way of life and even though I was one I wonder what the future holds for these warm and friendly folk.
Sillustani is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo. It is 34 km north of Puno.
The tombs, or Chullpas, are built above ground and are thought to house the remains of complete family groups, probably of the nobility. Most have been desecrated by grave robbers although there are some that have not been completed. The site is still being excavated and come chullpas restored as examples of the culture of the era. The cullpas belonged to the Aymara culture - a culture immediately preceding the Incas.
Sillustani is another fascinating archeaological site and is worth the climb at altitude even if it is just to see the incredible vista over Lake Umayo.
The town of Pukara is located 61 km north of Juliaca , on the road from Cusco to Puno. History of Pukara as a military and religious centre dates back to 500 BC. The culture here in the area of the north of Lake Titicaca is very similar to that of the Tiahuanacus around the southern part of the lake.
There is a small but interesting museum here - unfortunately no photography (flash or no flash) is permitted.
Pukara is famous for its bulls - live ones for bull fighting and ceramic ones to decorate the roofs of houses in Peru. Ceramic bulls adorn the fence posts around the quaint church.
At 4335 metres above sea level, La Raya Pass is the highest point on the road from Cusco to Puno. It is also where you change from the department of Cusco to the department of Puno. From here you get fanstastic views of the Andes Mountains.
Of course, being a tourist stop, there are the inevitible stalls. Here they provide a welcome splash of colour against the magnificant backdrop of the mountains.
The trip from Cusco to Puno by road takes about 7 hours if you drive non-stop. If you take the tourist bus the trip takes just over 9 hours but includes 4 tourists stops and includes a buffet lunch. You may add time to the trip but it is broken up into easily manageable sections and you have opportunities to stretch your legs even if you don't wish to sight see.
Included in the trip are
Andahuaylillas (3122 m.a.s.l.)
Sicuani Village(3552 m.a.s.l.) - Buffet Lunch
La Raya Pass(4335 m.a.s.l )
Pukara Museum(3900 m.a.s.l )
When I was in the 5th grade I learned about Lake Titicaca in Social Studies. The name has stuck in my brain as a place I always wanted to visit.
Lake Titicaca is a lake located on the border of Peru and Bolivia just ove 3800 metres above sea level. It is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world and the largest lake, by water volume in Sth America. It is divided into two smaller lakes by the Srait of Tiquina. Five main rivers feed into the lake but only one takes water out. The water level is controlled mainly by evaporation and due to poor rain seasons has recently reached its lowest level since 1949.
The name Titicaca has lost its origin and has various local meanings. One of which is 'Rock Puma' and aerials views of the lake show a shape that might be thought to resemble a puma hunting prey.
Lake Titicaca is the home to large populations ofwater birds and several threatened species.
Visit the most important necropolis tombs in America. Buit by Tiwanukus, Kollas and Incas. Views of the surrounding area are breathtaking as are the tales of the people that have lived and are living here.
On the way back we stopped at the home of a local family for a visit and glimpse into their everyday life.
The reeds’ roots are like cork, and they form the base of the island. By February, huge clumps of roots float to the surface. They are sawed into manageable sized blocks; then somebody tows it back or jumps onto it and rows it home. The blocks are lashed together with ropes and stakes driven into the blocks. (The island we were on contained 10 blocks.) The matted roots are 6 ft. thick, and then they are covered with a 3 ft. layer of fresh reeds. It is something like walking on a waterbed! Every 3-6 months they add more reeds as the previous layer mashes down.
An island usually lasts 8-12 years, and then they have to start over. This one is 4 years old. The green part of the reed can be dried and used for almost everything—boats, baskets, hats, and houses. Their one-room houses are small and very lightweight. Two men could carry one.
The white part of the reed (3-4” nearest the root) is good to eat. I tried one—it is somewhat fibrous, with a mild ‘raw potato’ flavor. It has to be peeled.
There are about 56 floating islands with a total population of about 2,000. Some of the larger islands have restaurants and even a hotel. We visited a small one, Isla Sol y Luna (Sun & Moon) that 4 families live on. They live communally, and everyone works. The islands are in a bay where the tortora reeds grow and the water is shallow (6-60 ft.) The islands are anchored in place with wooden poles and ropes so they won’t float away.
The island people will show you around and explain how they live. (And, of course, there are shopping opportunities!) They also give rides in the reed boats for 5 soles ($2.) It takes 2 people to row it. They used to make them entirely from reeds, but now they have some plastic bottles inside for extra flotation.
We were in Puno January 2010. Puno and Lake Titicaca was a great experience. Floating islands must be seen if you travel to Peru. When we went to Puno, we found Edgar Adventures - Tour Operator in Plaza del Almas. Their price is very reasonable, we paid 35 sole for the one full day trip. It does not include lunch. But the lunch which was in Taquile Island was very cheap like 10 sole and they served soup and fish that were just yummy. Edgar Tour guide ( I guess his name was Herman) was excellent. His English was perfect and he explained all the details of the visiting places. Moreover the islands are just wonderful. The tour was very helpful to immerse you into the culture of the Uros and Taquile islands residents. We had an amazing day in Puno. Thank to Edgar Tour
Watching the sun set over the horizon of this gorgeous lake landscape gives you a deep sense of the wonderment of nature. The experience definitely puts you in a peaceful, tranquil, and reflective state. See it for yourself!
When in Puno, be sure to see the local indian market. It's partly all over the railway track. I thought it was dangerous, but the train only went every second day and when it was due, the merchants moved their gear just a bit for the train to get through. You can buy chickens, alpacas, fruit and veggies, knitwear and artefacts they have made and the same trinkets that are sold everywhere in this area. Also hair cuts were available. You can get vivid and colourful pictures, and it's only natural that the locals are wanting some sols for each picture. But I also saw them treating some photographers in a rather unwelcoming manner sometimes and that kind of spoiled the atmosphere.