Puno & Lake Titicaca

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For centuries, the peoples of the Andes have regarded Lake Titicaca as sacred. For them it’s the birthplace of the sun itself, as well as of Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the mythical forefathers of the whole Andean race. Today, when you visit this waterway of the Peruvian altiplano, you’ll discover in its emerald islands and turquoise waters the same enchantment, the same wonder and divinity, that captivated the Incas and their predecessors more than 500 years ago.

That enchantment starts with the lake’s islands. From the sloping terraces of Taquile, with its traditions of weaving and handicraft-making, to the floating islets of the Uros people, hand-thatched out of totora reeds, Titicaca is home to a host of indigenous tribes, all striving to preserve their ancestral ways of life. When you visit these islands, you’ll have a chance to meet these natives and hear their stories.

After touring these cultures, you’ll also get to explore Puno, the city perched on the lake’s southwestern corner. Puno is officially the “folkloric capital of Peru,” and every year, during the world-renowned festival of the Virgen de la Candelaria, it more than lives up to its name, with spectacular folk dances, colorful costumes, and two weeks of continuous carousing that draw revelers from all over the continent.

Lake Titicaca is home to other attractions. Sillustani is a somber line of funerary towers built by the Qolla people atop a lakeside ridge, while the village of Chucuito boasts an Inca fertility temple and Sunday-morning folk dancing in the plaza. But the best reason to visit the region will always be the divine beauty of its natural scenery, crystalized in the shimmering waters of its transcendent lake.

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