Most people fly from Lima to Juliaca, which is a small city about 50km from Puno itself. It is the only airport and is an administrative division that is located in the Southeastern part of Peru. Puno is a landlocked region which is bordered by Madre de Dios (north), Bolivia (east), Arequipa and Cusco (west), Moquegua (Southwest) as well as Tacna in the south. You can get buses from Puno to all of these places and usually within 8 hours. However, do not book transport like I did to take you to the hotel, because as soon as you arrive at Juliaca airport there are minivans which know all of the hotels in Puno and will take you there for just $5USD and the journey lasts about 45 mins long.
Puno can be found around the Collao plateau close to the Western region of the Lake Titicaca. It is home to the famous Lake Titicaca, which is regarded as the highest navigable lake in the world. It is also a great tourist attraction. People from all over the world visit Puno for several attractive features, mainly Lake Titicaca for its islands, however there are other places to visit. Keep reading.
Tourism is currently a blossoming means of revenue for the developing region. It has created opportunities for local tour operators as well as several hotels to take advantage of the emerging tourism industry in the area. With lots of side attractions to check out on and experience, it is difficult to pinpoint a place to start your exploration. Here are some recommendations on what to do on the following attractive locations in Puno.
Tour 1 – Visit Uros, the Floating Islands & Taquille Island (50 soles/ $15USD including lunch)
They say there are 100 floating Islands, which contain between 6 to 10 families, some islands are much bigger than others. They are home to about 2500 people and each island can last about 30 years before a new one needs to be made, and that takes about 1 year. This is a major tourist attraction. They will also invite you to go on one of their boats knowing as “Tortora” and charge you $3USD.
The inhabitants of Uros made their homes from these reeds. These reeds were also used to construct each of the 100 islands in what has been referred to as an amazing engineering feat.
A journey to the floating body on the Lake Titicaca will offer visitors a first person experience of the daily life routines of the fascinating inhabitants of the island as well as the magnanimous structures that they have been able to put in place, and as mentioned above when travelers and visitors arrive on the islands, they might be able sail on the reed-made Totora boat for a small fee. It is not much but it is a feature, if there, one must try it right?
Anyways, you have to go on this tour if in Puno. Uros is about 20 mins from the port in Puno as it is just beyond the shallow waters and the entrance to the lake. After Uros you will then visit Taquille Island, which is about 90 mins from Uros. (Get the speed boats as they are much quicker and you spend more time on the islands & less on the water.
TIPS: Bring your own water as you will be charged 3 times the price, any biscuits, cakes and even coffee, not very good quality on the islands will charge you well over the top. All toilets charge to use them, just S/.1.
Experience some native Peruvian hospitality in Taquille Island
Located right on the Peruvian flank of Lake Titicaca, Taquille is quite famous for it customs when it comes to family and choosing a partner.
What to do on Taquille?
When you arrive you have 2 options. There are 2 treks, one which takes about 35 minutes, which is the best scenic route and the other you stay on the boat until you reach the other dock and meet the group in the ain square.
Regardless, which ever trek you take, you will see beautiful views of Bolivia and the agricultural terrace which predate the Incas and are still used today. The Inca had 3 rules, which residents of Taquille respect:
- Don’t be lazy
- Don’t lie
- Don’t steal
For this reason you will not see a mule or horse, everything on the land is done by hand. Plus there are no police as everyone lives by these rules. After arriving to the main square, you will then go to a family house, sit outside with a view of the lake and have lunch. This is usually trout and quinoa soup. Delicious all the same!
After lunch, they explain some of their customs and rules, which are basically LAW on the island. The locals (very poor, humble people) wear coloured hats. Basically, if your hat is red, it means you are married and if it is white and red you are single. If you are a single male and you want to live with a girl, you have up to 3-5 years to get married, if within this time you are not married you must separate, however, if you get her pregnant, law states you must marry her for the good of the child!! Remember, this place is basically 15th century style, people live on what they produce on the land, they do not sell condoms. If you see a man with a black hat, it means he is one of the “bosses” on the island, who meet, every Sunday to discuss business and that.
Tour 2 – Visit Chucuito in the morning (fertility temple & trout farm) $3 per person.
Chucuito is a very small village about 25 minutes from Puno. If you want to come here they offer private tours. I would not recommend this, instead do it yourself. There is not a lot to view here but the views of the Titicaca are quite impressive. We decided to go by bus and then visit the fertility temple, which was previously used by the Incas.
It is basically a large room with large stone penises. Sounds strange but it is kinda funny and costs less than $2 USD for foriengers. There is no tour guide if you do this by yourself. However if you want to go private, the guide will tell you all about it. The Incas used to sit on top of the penises and hope to have children after having intercourse with their partner. Since the Incas had great faith in their beliefs it helped them. Read up on it before you go, there is not a lot of information about it to be honest. You can also buy some souvenirs as well.
Then you can visit the University of Puno and see the “giant” toad, which lives in Titicaca Lake and in depts of up to 25m, however the ones on display at the university as babies, they look prehistoric and cute. I thought it was a turtle as it has a hard shell looking thing on their back.
This is basically a trout farm, you can also buy the fish themselves and Chucuito is known for its delicious fish. We decided to go in the morning. We left the hotel at about 8am, got a taxi to “La parada de Chicuito” got on a bus paid $0.50 per person right to the main square of Chucuito and walked from there. We visited the church, which has some really old colonial stuff from the Spanish era, and enjoy views of the village from the drone. Sorry guys, I take my drone everywhere and the views of the village with Titicaca in the background is gorgeous.
The only problem I had here was the altitude, but it depends on each person. We walked to the fertity temple, then walked to the University of Puno, then back to the main square, got on the bus and back to Puno. They left us close enough to the hotel. In total, for two people, we paid S/.20 soles, which is about $6. If you go private, you will pay a lot more, but I would recommend our way as you can do everything in less than 3 hours return from Puno, plus you get a different feeling as in the bus the locals are mostly dressed in traditional clothes and hats. Really up to you.
Sillustani (afternoon tours only) $10 per person including entrance + transport
For some reason the tours are only in the evening. There is a good and bad thing about this especially between November and March, as it is considered rainy season, so it is hit and miss as it is more likely to rain in the afternoon. The wind in the evening gives a very chilly feel to the place. Anyway, Sillustani is basically a place when the Incas buried their most nobel people. It is basically a cementary for the higher class.
Mirador del Puma (Viewing platform)
This is probably the best place in Puno which overlooks the Lake Titicaca. It is only about 4km from the city centre. We paid a taxi to take us there and wait for about 20 minutes, then drop up off back at the hotel for less than $7USD. So, get a taxi and tell them to take you to the Mirador del Puma. The reason why they call it the Puma, is because if you look at the Lake on the map upside down, it kinda looks like a Puma. For this reason, Titi – Puma, and Caca – Mount. If you have a free evening, visit this place, it is safe and the view is spectacular.
Please shop about. Do not buy online, go to the tour agencies and compare their prices as you will find really cheap offers on the go. Pay in local currency as they will rip you off if you have dollars. The altitude in Puno is about 3,810m above sea level and it is a bit of a problem. However, there are 3 things you should do. Sleep well, drink lots of water and eat light. You can also buy some pills here which are great called Soroche Pills. Every pharmacy sells them, so take one 8 hours before you fly and then each 8 hours for each day you are there. That should do the trick.
Bring lots of suncream, hat, long sleeve t-shirts and coats as Puno can be quite cold at night. Make sure you get a hotel with central heating or heaters too, it is a great help. We stayed in Hotel Balsa Inn, check them out on Booking.com they are cheap and the street called “Calle Lima” there are a few tour agencies, which are cheaper than the hotels prices. Check them out and compare prices
Any other queries please send me a message, cheers!