When you travel to Peru, one great option is to visit Puno and the fabulous Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is one of the world’s most fascinating lakes, which shares itself with Peru and Bolivia. It is a very popular tourist attraction in Southern Peru and is the highest commercially navigable lake in the world situated at around 12,500 feet above sea level.
Puno and Lake Titicaca is the perfect destination after you have visited Cusco and Machu Picchu on your trip to Peru, as you can just hop on a bus or train from Cusco. The magnificent train journey takes around 10 hours and gives you the chance to see some of the most spectacular views in the Peruvian Andes. The bus journey takes around 8 hours depending on the bus company. If you opt for a tourist bus you can also stop off at some of the villages and sights in-between Cusco and Lake Titicaca. Some of the main sights of the journey are places like Andahuaylillas, where you can visit the Andahuaylillas Chapel also known as the Sistene Chapel of the Andes due to its intricate Frescoes. Raqchi is a town, which is home to the historic ruins of the Wiracocha Temple, built by the Incan empire. Pukara is an ancient archeological site that is located to the north of Lake Titicaca and originates from circa 500BC.
The Uros Islands are the main attraction on Lake Titicaca. These islands are unique, as they are floating on the lake and are built entirely with dried Totora reeds that surround the lake. There are around 44 separate islands where the local Uros people live. Amantani and Taquile are the 2 main islands on Lake Titicaca. On these islands, tourists have the chance to learn about how the people live by spending the night in their homes and having traditional food and drink, been this one of the most popular experiential tourism activities done when people travel to Peru. Amantani island is home to 2 mountains, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), both of which are sacred sites. Every year on the 18th January, the local people dress up in traditional Incan clothes and climb the two mountains. They then split into 2 groups to descend each mountain and meet at the bottom to offer the earth coca leaves, alcohol and grains.
The largest of the Lake Titicaca’s islands is the Island of the Sun (Isla del Sol), the home of the supreme Inca god Inti. Here you can visit Challapampa, a town located in the north of the island and is home to the amazing Chinkana, a labyrinth consisting of huge stones and was thought to be a training area for the Inca priests. At the other end of the island is the largest town, Yumani, where there are the Inca steps (206 steps) leading up to a sacred fountain, also known as the Fountain of Youth. You can also visit the Gold Museum that exhibits many ancient Incan treasures. Make sure that you catch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world by the lighthouse, which is the highest point on the island.
Juliaca is the main city in the Lake Titicaca area and is best known for its handicrafts made from alpaca, llama or sheep’s wool. There are lots of opportunities to purchase original textiles from here from the people selling on the streets. The town has also been named “Capital Folklórica del Perú” (folklore capital of Peru), and its a must visit when you travel to Peru and this part of the Andes due to its abundance of culturistic and artistic expressions, especially from folklore dance.