General Data

• Location: The department of Puno is located in the south eastern region of the county on the Collao plateau, on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

• Area: 71 999 km2

• Capital: Puno (3 827 masl)

• Altitude: 820 masl (lanlacuni bajo) Lowest town. 4 725 masl (San Antonio de Esquilache) highest town.

• Average annual temperature: 8º C (19º C maximum and 2º C minimum).

• Rainy season: December to March.

Access Routes

• By land: The most recommended is the Lima-Arequipa-Juliaca-Puno route (1 302 km) which takes about 24 h drive.

• By air: There are daily flights to Juliaca from Lima (about 1 h 45 minutes) and from Arequipa (about 45 minutes).

• By railroad: Trains offer service from Cusco to Puno (437 km and about 11 hours) crossing the highlands.

Historical Overview

Puno was the birthplace of one of the most important pre-Inca cultures, the Tiahuanaco, the most advanced civilization of the ancient Aymara people, who left monumental ruins which continue to arouse wonder and admiration even today. Legend tells that the first Inca, Manco Cápac, and his wife Mama Ocllo, emerged from Lake Titicaca, and were entrusted by their father, the Sun God, to found the Inca Empire or Tawantinsuyo which was divided into four regions. One of such regions was Collasuyo, today Puno, which stretched across the Collao plateau. When the Spaniards arrived in Cusco in the mid-16th century, they found tremendous mineral wealth, especially gold and silver. In the 1 660s, a bloody internal struggles arose over the possession of the important Laikakota mine, one league from modern Puno, which forced the Viceroy, the Count of Lemos, to travel to the area to bring peace. His visit led to the creation, on November 4th, 1 668, of what is today the city of Puno. There, Spanish priests eager to convert the indigenous population built beautiful churches which blended Christian styles with the imagination and skill of the local people into a new mestizo style.

Attractions in the city

The Cathedral
Main Square.

Visits: Monday to Sunday 7:30-12:00 and 15:00-18:00.

Built of stone in the seventeenth century by the Peruvian master stonemason Simon de Asto, whose name is inscribed in the portal, the Baroque cathedral is an example of local mestizo architecture.

Dreyer Municipal Museum
Conde de Lemos 289. Visits: Monday to Friday 7:30-15:30.

The museum's collections include pre-Inca and Inca ceramics, gold, weavings and stone sculptures, as well as stamps and documents on the history of the Spanish foundation of Puno.

The Deustua Arch
Jr. Independencia block 1.
Built of carved stone by the people of Puno in memory of the patriots who fought for Independence.

Huajsapata Hill
Located west of the city, four blocks from the Main Square. On its peak, where a monument to the Inca Manco stands, visitors can enjoy a lovely panoramic view of the city of Puno and Lake Titicaca.

Outskirts of the city

Lake Titicaca
Situated 10 blocks from Puno’s Main Square and about 7 minutes walk, Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world (3 810 masl), with an area of approximately 8 560 km2, a length of 194 km and an average width of 65 km In places where its depths exceed 25 m, its colors range from deep blue to, in its shallow reaches, the pale green of aquatic plants.
From the lakeside port in Puno, excursions can be made to islands such as:

Uros
Located 4 km from Puno and about 20 minutes motorboat ride. The original inhabitants of these floating islands are said to descend from one of the most ancient peoples of the Americas. Their dwellings made of totora reed are built on the surface of Lake Titicaca.

Taquile
Located 35 km from the city of Puno and about 3 h motorboat ride. This island is treasured for its great ethnic and cultural value. Their people mantain their ancient cultural traditions, especially their weaving. Tourists wishing to stay the night are lodged in the homes of local families.

Amantaní
Located 37 km from the port of Puno and about 4 h 30 minutes motorboat ride, this island is also important for its ethnic and cultural value.

Sillustani
Located 28 km north of the city of Puno and about 30 minutes drive, on the shores of Umayo Lagoon, this island houses archaeological monuments in the shape of conical stone towers called chullpas, with varying heights from 10 to 13 m.

Pucará
Located 101 km north of Puno and about 1 h 45 minutes drive this village has won fame for its pottery, especially its Toritos de Pucará (bull figures).

Chucuito
Located 18 km south of Puno and about 30 minutes drive, this is one of the oldest towns in the area. Its beautiful main square, the Church of the Asunción (1601) and the Church of Santo Domingo (sixteenth century) gave it great importance during colonial times. The temple of Inca Uyo, featuring stone sculptures in the shape of a phallus, is located in the outskirts of Chucuito and is believed to be a place for fertility rites.

Ilave
Located 56 km south of the city of Puno and about 1 h drive, Ilave has interesting Colonial churches such as San Miguel de Ilave and Santa Bárbara.

Juli
Located 84 km south of Puno and about 1 h 25 minutes drive, Juli was key district for Jesuits who established themselves in this locality and organized a model experimental center to train missionaries for Paraguay and Bolivia. Among its most important churches are San Juan de Letrán, San Pedro Mártir and Santa Cruz de Jerusalén, and the Casa de la Inquisición, or Casa Zavala, in the Main Square.

Pomata
Located 108 km south of Puno and about 1 h 30 minutes drive, this village has a beautiful view of the Lake and the Copacabana peninsula, as well as an example of pure mestizo architecture, the Church of Santiago Apóstol.

Putina Hot Springs
Visits: Tuesday to Sunday 8:00-21:00.
Located 124 km north of the city of Puno and about 3 h 30 minutes drive, these hot springs, with medicinal properties to cure arthritis and rheumatism, are located in the district of Putina.

Folklore

The folklore of Puno is characterized by the variety of its musical expressions which comprise dance, music and Peruvian traditions. The most important Puno dances include wifala de asillo, carnival of Ichu, Llamerada, Pujllay de Santiago, tuntuna, khashua de Capachica, machu-tusuj, kcajelo, diablada and pandilla puneña.

Handicrafts

The most remarkable Puno handicrafts include alpaca, llama and sheep woolen garnments. Visitors can buy a number of musical instruments typical of the region such as siku and charango. Toritos de Pucará (bull figures) are highly appreciated for their excellent quality.

Gastronomy

• Cancacho (roasted suckling or lamb marinated in chili and oil).

• Pesque de quinua (very nutritious quinua cheese).

• Chairo (soup prepared with beef and lamb meat, potatoes, lima beans, pumpkin, cabbage, potato flour, wheat and chalona or cured lamb meat).

Festivals

Feast of the Virgin of la Candelaria (February)
The most important religious festivity in Puno, during which masses, banquets and a colorful procession are held. This feast is related to the pre-Hispanic agrarian rites of sowing and harvesting as well as to the mining activity.

Services

• Airport

• Land Transport

• Railroad Transport

• Health Centers

• Police Stations

• Handicrafts Markets

• Post Office