Puno is a city in southeastern Peru, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It is the capital city of the Puno Region and the Puno Province with a population of approximately 100,000.
Though it may not be revered as one of the most beautiful of Peruvian cities, Puno does have a lot going for it when it comes to bringing in tourists. Puno boasts a most envious feature. It rests at over 12,000 feet on the shores of the amazingly beautiful Lake Titicaca, which is not only the highest navigable lake in the world, but also the largest in all of South America.
It is also worth noting right off the bat that Puno Peru is also one of the best cities in the country for experiencing Peruvian folklore. The events and festivals in Puno and on the islands of Lake Titicaca are among the most vibrant in all the land, most often featuring traditional dances and traditions. If you are in southern Peru and have some time on your hands after visiting Cusco and Machu Picchu, for example, then a trip to Puno caps a most unforgettable experience. Puno is also a worthy stopping point if you plan on heading to Bolivia, which begins on the other side of Lake Titicaca.
Puno Peru was officially founded in 1668 by a Spanish viceroy, as a result of the discovery of silver mines in the area, but it had already been a most significant place for the Inca people.
It was their belief that the Inca Sun God, Manco Capac, was born from the waters of Lake Titicaca, from which he rose to begin the storied Inca Empire. Capac would center this empire in Cusco, but you can understand the importance of Puno and Titicaca as the sacred origin of the Inca people. As for the Spanish, Puno would originally be named San Carlos de Puno, due to then Spanish king, Charles (Carlos) II. Much like the Spanish did throughout the rest of the Americas, they began to preach Christianity to the natives, and subsequent churches would soon follow. These churches remain to the present day, figuring as just part of the Puno tourism scene. But, people do not plan Puno vacations to relish in the impact of the Spanish. Puno tourism is alive and well mostly because people come to see and interact with the surviving native cultures of the Aymara and Quechua civilizations, and surely Lake Titicaca is a main draw when it comes to Punos tours.
Among the most popular and recommended Punos tours are those that take visitors on a boat ride to the floating Uros Islands. These islands are literally made from the tortora reed, crafted as such for thousands of years by the native people that inhabit them. On the Uros Islands, you can shop for crafts from the local people, however you should take care if you wish to photograph them, as is true with most native peoples. It is often customary to offer a monetary offering of some sort if you wish to take direct pictures. If you have the chance, you might consider taking one of the Puno tours that visits the Uros Islands and Taquile Island.
The sailing part of the trip will last a few hours, as Lake Titicaca is larger than the country of Switzerland, and the experience of sailing out on it is almost too much to take in, especially if you find yourself on the tour on a whim. You almost have to pinch yourself a couple times to verify that you are not dreaming. When you get to Taquile Island, you must climb a lengthy set of high-rising steps that take you to the top of the island, and yes, the views are stunning. You can tour the island by yourself, and if you are lucky, the native people will be celebrating a special event or festival. It is something to see these people in their colorful clothes, singing and dancing their way about as if you were not there at all. Seeing the ancient Sillustani Burial Towers that were built along the shores of Lake Titicaca is another one of the possible Puno tours.