Nestled snugly between the snow-dusted peaks of the Andes Mountains and the sapphire expanse of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a sight to behold. The world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca straddles both Peru and Bolivia and is often referred to as the birthplace of the Incas. Journey into Peru’s past on a holiday to Puno.
Undoubtedly Puno’s most magnificent - and famous - attraction, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca are as fascinating as they are breathtaking. Built by the native Uros people hundreds of years ago as a refuge from the Incas, the islands have been woven entirely from totora - reeds growing in the lake’s shallows. To this day, locals carefully maintain their traditional homes - boats, houses and even children’s toys all crafted from the reeds.
Board a tortora boat from Puno, and glide across Lake Titicaca. Your tour will take you to one or more of the floating islands, where you’ll meet some of the colourfully-dressed locals and learn about their unique and resilient way of life. Many of their customs and traditions have remained unchanged for centuries.
Cultural treasures and curious cityscapes
While the town of Puno serves mainly as a jumping-off point for Lake Titicaca holidays, the surrounding landscape holds other interest. Sillustani is an intriguing pre-Incan burial ground with numerous chullpas: burial towers built by the ancient Aymara people to house their dead. Within the city, the 18th-century Catedral de Puno is a magnificent landmark. Pause for a drink in the colourful Casa del Corregidor on the opposite side of the Plaza.
Take your archaeological explorations further and pair your holiday to Puno with a trek to Machu Picchu. While you’re adventuring, why not discover the rest of South America? We offer an endless array of South American multi centre itineraries, whether you want to dip your toes into Brazil’s warm waters or climb to the snow-tipped peaks of Argentina’s Patagonia. Get in touch with our Destination Specialists today.
Great sample itineraries
A selection of our tailor made itineraries, to give you an idea of what’s possible. Lake Titicaca could form one part of an extensive, action-packed South America tour. Get in touch.
Scenic Tour South America
Luxury Train From Cusco To Machu Picchu
Floating Islands of Titicaca
Nestled amid the snow-draped Andes, Lake Titicaca’s famous floating islands have been built from reeds by the indigenous lake dwellers, a sight that must not be missed on your South American adventure.
Best time to visit Puno
Average temperatures in Puno vary little, and it is colder than other parts of Peru. The best time to visit is between May and October - with November the hottest month. August to October does see some light rainfall, but this is much greater between December and March.
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“From Puno, you can spend a day visiting the tiny island of Taquile, one of South America’s most beautiful locations. Standing atop its terraced slopes, warmed by the bright sunshine, there are moments where you’d swear you were on an island in the Mediterranean - Capri or Sardinia. Sheltered groves look out onto water that is a dazzling blue, and rustic stone paths criss-cross grazing areas for sheep and cattle.”
“If you have time, make sure you visit Sillustani - 20 miles outside of Puno. Here you can see the line of Chullpas (funeral towers) that once housed the remains of the Qolla, a fierce warrior tribe vanquished by the Incas in the late 1400s. Qolla nobles would bind their dead in the fetal position and place them in uterus-shaped tombs, together with food and personal belongings for their journey into the next world.”
Events & Festivals
A number of traditional festivals and religious celebrations take place in Puno each year, drawing both South American and international tourists. Many of these events have been happening in Puno for centuries.
One of Peru’s most colourful festivals, around 140,000 dancers and musicians take to the streets during February in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The festival celebrates Puno’s patron saint, the Virgin of Candlemas, in a vibrant cultural celebration of dances and rituals.
Puno Week takes place during the first week of November, in remembrance of Manco Cápac, who legend tells arose from the waters of Lake Titicaca to found the Incan Empire. A huge procession makes its way from the shores of the lake to the town stadium, with plenty of dancing and music.
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