Puno offers three great experiences. First of all, the magnificent lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, located between Peru and Bolivia. It has an area of 8,600 km2 and a maximum depth of 285 meters, characteristics which create especial climate conditions that allowed for the birth of life and the domestication of species thousands of years ago.
The lake, which includes a protected area called the National Titicaca Reserve, has approximately 40 islands. Half of these islands are Peruvian and their names come from the Spanish encomendadores who lived in this area. The floating islands of the Uros and Taquile stand out due to their extraordinary weavings, which were recognized as a World Heritage by the UNESCO. The enigmatic chullpas de Sillustaniare located in Lake Utumayo, a part of Titicaca.
Following the Lake, in the south route towards Desaguadero, are located several of the most interesting churches in the south of Peru. In Ilave, Juli and Pomata, the Jesuits built temples between the 16th and 17th Centuries, which were used as a center from where the missionary expeditions left for Paraguay and for the Moxos route in Bolivia. The church of San Juan Bautista in Juli maintains an extraordinary collection of paintings from the Cusco School, which make visiting this church a unique experience.
In the interior of Puno, in the great pampas of ichu and grass, the Andean Plateau hides many places which are lesser-known but full of magic, history and splendor. Lampa, called the pink city, located just 30 minutes from Juliaca, maintains two identical replicas of Michael Angelo’s La Pietá. In Ayaviri, where the beautiful Cathedral stands out, the cheeses and local gastronomy based on lamb are known throughout the region. From Ayaviri one can reach the Tinajani rock forest, a large natural area where big rocks and canyons form peculiar shapes due to the wind´s force. North from Ayaviri is Tarukani, Peru´s largest forest of Puyas de Raimondi. These plants have the planet´s greatest inflorescence, made up from thousands of tiny flowers, which are pollinized by the smallest bird, the hummingbird.
And finally, the city of Puno, which links together the lake and the Plateau as a great experience. Puno maintains a rich history displayed in its churches, plazas, colonial residences and popular art, but is specially renowned for its dances, costumes and popular art. This great cultural richness, which has caused Puno to be named the folkloric capital of Peru and America, can be better appreciated in February, during the feast of the Candelaria.
Have a great trip to Puno.