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Puno

  • Highest Navigable Lake in the world at 3811 meters above sea level
  • Largest lake in South America (Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela is larger but semi open to the sea)
  • The lake is divided between Peru and Bolivia, Peru claiming the biggest part
  • The lake contains 42 Islands, Isla del Sol in Bolivia being the biggest
  • For many years now there have been rumors of an Inca Atlantis under the surface of Lake Titicaca but so far nothing conclusive has been found
  • Lake Titicaca has quite the extreme climate with soaring sun in the days and freezing temperatures at night

Lake Titicaca, this strange name is the name of another of the many amazing and extreme travel destinations one can find in Peru. This lake located on the border between Peru and Bolivia is not only the biggest lake in South America, located on 3811 meters above sea level, it is also the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake is about 70 on 190Km and has its deepest point at about 300 meters under the surface. The lake has a special dark blue color and the contrast of the color of the water with the blue sky and snowcapped mountains is a true spectacle. There are 42 islands located in the lake, the larger ones inhabited. The most famous islands on the Peruvian side of the lake are Uros, Taquile and Amantani. The Uros Islands are artificial floating islands made out of flattened parches of reed in the lake built by the people living there. The history of the islands goes back to the time of the Inca when a neighboring tribe has to find refuge from the Inca and ended up “exiled” on these islands. Housing and boats are also made out of the same reed giving the island a very exotic look for such a high altitude location. Even till the day of today there are families living on these islands. The island of Taquile may as well be the most authentic island on Peruvian side. The island has several Inca constructions and has quite some agriculture. The methods used here still date back centuries and people live on a different rhythm on these islands. Also the islanders are famous for their colorful clothing, dating back to the time of the Spanish Conquest.

Puno is the largest city on Peruvian side located on the shores of Lake Titicaca. The city is located perched in between on one side the mountains and on the other the lake. Being located close to the Bolivian border, Puno as most South American border cities has a bit of a Wild West feeling to it. The city itself has some nice plazas connected with a pedestrian shopping street, but apart from this the city center has not much to show for. Nevertheless with the altitude you may want to take it easy when travelling around Lake Titicaca. The one time of year when tourists actually go to Puno for Puno is in February. Puno is proclaimed as the Peruvian Folkloric Capital and the main festival exposing this is the incredible yearly Carnival. Hundreds of local and international dancing groups come to the city to participate in a week-long festival of dances, parades, shows and competitions in and around Puno. The festival of course goes accompanied with sufficient beer and parties making this a crazy week in this highland city.

Around Puno there are other cities and sites to be visited as well. At one hour drive from Puno, on the way to Juliaca where the only airport in the region is located, you can find the funerary towers of Sillustani. These are funerary towers built by a pre Inca civilization, some of their building techniques being copied by the Inca later on. From Puno it is also quite easy to travel to Bolivia. The biggest town on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca is Copacabana. From here you can visit some of the Bolivian Islands on the Lake and continue to La Paz about 2 hours from Copacabana.

Lake Titicaca, its island, the culture & traditions and its location make this an almost mandatory extension of any trip to Machu Picchu. Feel free to ask our Travel Representatives to include a trip to this wonderful destination in your Peru vacation!!!
 

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