was the territory of the Tiahuanacos (800 A.D. – 1200 A.D.) who were the highest cultural expression of the Aymara people that established themselves in what is today Peru and Bolivia. The Incas took over these lands in the fifteenth century, and the Spanish, attracted by the mining industry developed there, left an important Colonial legacy throughout the entire area.
Today, the city of Puno (3,287 masl), which lies on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, is the folklore capital of Peru and the site of the Feast of the Virgen de la Candelaria. In the outskirts, you can visit the spectacular Chullpas de Sillustani, a complex of impressive burial towers built by the Kollas, Juli, famous for its beautiful Colonial churches, Lampa with its vice royal church built between 1675 and 1685, Llachón, a community that still maintains its centuries old customs and cultural expressions, and Pucará, known for its pre-Inca pottery and for the “toritos de Pucará” that the artisans of today create from clay.
The lake contains numerous islands whose inhabitants continue to live as their ancestors have in custom and tradition. The Uros an example of this; this people group lives on “floating islands” that they have artificially made entirely of totora reeds, and they navigate in their traditional boats also made out of totora reeds. Taquile, Suasi, and Amantaní are knows for their kindness of their residents, their ancestral skill in weaving, their pre-Columbian constructions, and lovely countryside. The Titicaca National Reserve (36,180 hectares) protects extensive stretches of totora reeds and various species of plants and animals.
Lake Titicaca, Floating Islands of the Uros
5 km / 3 miles west of the Puno harbor (20 minutes by boat) The Uros Islands (3810 masl / 12.497 fasl) number around 20 and are located in the Bay of Puno. Three to ten Uro-Aymaras families live on each one. They roof their houses with totora reed carpets, although some families have replaced their traditional roofs by metal ones. The largest Islands are Tupiri, Santa María, Tribuna, Toranipata, Chumi, Paraiso, Kapi, Titino, Tinajero, and Negrone.The Uros call themselves Kotsuña, “the lake people”, and their origins go back to eras before the Incas. They hunt wild birds and maintain traditional fishing methods, especially those used for the carachi and the silverfish. The men are skillful handlers of the totora reed boats, and the women are expert knitters.The characteristic cold and dry weather of the region is tempered in this area thanks to the constantly evaporating water of the large lake.
35 km / 22 miles east of the Puno port (3 hours by boat) Its approximate size is of 6 km2 (2 miles2) and the altitude between the port and the town varies slightly from 3810 to 3950 masl (12.497 to 12.956 fasl). The maximum temperature there is 23ºC (66ºF), and the minimum is 7ºC (37ºF). Pre-Inca vestiges are found in the highest part of the island. During the Colonial period and up to the first years of the twentieth century, it was used as a political prison, until the island became property of the Taquile people in 1970. The town of the same name, Taquile, is characterized by its friendly inhabitants, who maintain their customs and traditional clothing. They distinguish themselves by their detailed, fine, and colorful textiles with symmetrical decorations and symbols that reflect their way of life, customs, and Andean beliefs.