Puno is located in southeastern Peru at an altitude of 3,810 to 4,050 m.a.s.l. It is the highest region of Peru and the fifth highest in the world. However, this isn’t the only interesting aspect of Puno. Thanks to its importance during the Inca empire and its diverse nature, there are a number of tourist attractions to visit while in Puno.
To really get a feel for life on Titicaca, it’s necessary to venture further than Uros. Despite welcoming boatloads of visitors each day, Amantaní Island still provides a fascinating and authentic insight into local indigenous culture. Community-run initiatives allow tourists to sleep in a family home, an interesting cultural exchange from which the proceeds are split among society.
If Lake Titicaca is beautiful, Sillustani approaches the sublime. Ranged along a high stone outcropping some 20 miles outside Puno, this line of chullpas (funerary towers) 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 inter them in uterus-shaped tombs, together with food and personal belongings for their journey into the next world.
Festival of La Virgen de la Candelaria
Legend holds that when native Aymaras rose up against the Spanish during the great Tupac Amaru Rebellion in 1781, the Iberians in Puno were saved by the Virgin Mary, who caused their swords to glow like fire as they hewed at their attackers. Ever since, the Virgen de la Candelaria has been the patron Saint of Puno, and the city’s inhabitants render homage to her each year with an over-the-top festival, full of danzas folklóricas, imaginative costumes, religious processions, and lots and lots of alcohol.
This stone archway was built in 1847 to commemorate Peruvian soldiers who died in the Battles of Junín and Ayacucho during the Wars of Independence against Spain. The structure itself is rather plain but it is decorated with colourful coats of arms and has a good view over downtown Puno.