The folkloric capital of Peru, in addition to its well-known traditions full of color and music, and its magnificent lake, also gives us opportunities to enjoy its historical tales, archeology, its people, and its soups … yes, its soups .
Don’t say that we didn’t tell you, as long as they offer steaming liquid dishes, DO NOT REJECT THEM!, that combination of broths with vegetables, and especially quinoa, are simply de-li–cious.
Returning to what is ours, we will now proceed to describe our perfect trip through the region. Of course, that does not mean that this recommendation is rigid because our trips are always characterized by flexibility according to the tastes and preferences of our travelers. With the following itinerary, we simply present a way to get inspired to know a little revealed Puno, less traveled and more original.
The city of the one thousand and one stories
The entrance to Lampa is similar to that of many cities in the Andes, it is a small urban layout, but do not let that fool you, it is a city full of great stories. Like that of Bolivar’s step in the liberating feat; the one of the Lampenians – that in spite of the distances and the unknown of the sea, they boarded warships; or why the city is custody not only of one but two replicas of the Pietà by Michelangelo.
So we recommend walking around the main squares (Armas and Grau) and the first thing that will jump out will be the beautiful church of the Immaculate Conception, and how could it not! if all its construction is a gem. The high stone walls and its elaborate entrance floors with pebbles are the beginning, but above all its colorful glazed tiles and the tiled dome, which competes in beauty with the bell tower that accompanies it.
Another thing is to enter the temple, and if you are admirers of the religious baroque, then you will have a lot to see, especially in those gigantic paintings of the Cuzco school that seem that falling would cause a perceptible tremor in the whole town. But further in the privacy of the building, is the most famous chapel in the area, which will require a separate time for contemplation.
We are more than sure that your guides and hosts will delight you with all the stories to be told, and that Oscar and Gustavo Frisancho will be responsible not only for receiving you in their house, moving you from one place to another, and keeping you comfortable and entertained, but that they will make you feel that there is no one as proud as they are to show you the treasures of their beloved Lampa.
Touring the mountain range
On the second day you have to board the car to see Palca, and in less than an hour, you will be parking outside the road to visit the alpaca pen of Teodoro and Juana.
The issue of raising woolly animals has very important connotations throughout the Puno region, and for that reason we will be taking you to meet one of the most recognized families in terms of the production of items with alpaca fiber, not only for the intrinsic natural qualities of the fiber, but also for the confection: for the fabrics produced by Teodoro and Juana are highly valued, as well as their craft technique, for which they are required as instructors at a national level. We recommend that if you see an item of your interest in the workshop, do not hesitate to acquire it, because you will not find such quality at a better price.
In the corral, the alpacas seem to know that when there is a visit, the one seized will be shorn. So, if the season is right (summer), you will have the opportunity to test your skills with scissors and get the fluffy wool while your guides keep the animal quietly lying on the ground. Later, there will be an opportunity to let them go out to graze and maybe you want to take a walk with them, accompanying them on their way.
But our route is longer and we will have to get in the car again to climb the hill that separates the valleys. Now the surprise will be presented in other dimensions because what comes next would make anyone feel small. However, the road also has its own special something as there are queñua woods (Polylepis), mine mills, and the birds that adorn the Vila Vila lagoon.
As soon as you reach the top you have to take the time to look at what is left behind and what is ahead, and if you feel adventurous, you can take the bicycle to descend to the next milestone on the road: the forest of puyas de Raimondi.
If you are told that the giant plants that are in front of you are relatives of the pineapple, do not feel fooled. It is true that much is unknown about this species, and many speculations and fables are hovering around it, but the above is true, as well as it is true that it is a very threatened plant that has seen much of its old and originally wide distribution reduced between Peru and Bolivia, and that apparently will not be present much longer due to human activity. The puya truly needs many words to describe it with dignity, which is why it is better to see it. Long live the queen of the Andes!
Do not feel sad abandoning the puyas, because new opportunities of astonishment await you when you enter the canyon. And it seems that everything happens suddenly, almost without warning the red colossi of Tinajani appear!
These titans are like untiring sentries before the passage of time. Many take advantage of their protection to meditate quietly at their feet, while others try to cover the distances with great strides – which in reality are insignificant, to try to look for wider views of the stupendous canyon.
The return to Lampa will not happen until you have tasted good Punenian coffee. Did you know that Puno also has jungle within its territory? Finally, and if the weather conditions allow it: one last stop in the Quello Quello pass, before entering the city, will close the day in a spectacular way with a beautiful sunset. What more could you ask for!
Through the footsteps of men from the past
On the outskirts of Lampa, but actually quite close to the city limits, are the petroglyphs of the Cueva del Toro. To get to this place, which reminds us of our troglodyte past, you have the choice to do it by bicycle and enjoy the endless plains that are in the heights of Puno. On the way of ascent to the hill, you will have a first glance with a chullpa, but we will see more of that later, soon you will understand why.
Once inside the small cave, refine your sight as there are many motifs to see. We would love to say that the legacy that remains is a protected heritage, but unfortunately, this is not the case. However, and despite the fact that there is garbage and that the stone walls are partially battered by modern Homo not-so-sapiens, it is still worth the visit.
Where do we take you now? Although the next destination is well known, we are going to give you a very original tour as you will arrive thanks to the tireless Máximo and Asunción, who at an enviable pace, will not give respite to the oars to slide the boats through a narrow strip of the lagoon Umayo to the Sillustani peninsula.
Just moments before you have seen the small chullpa on the way to the cave and now you will find yourselves face to face with the same type of tombs, however this time the scale will be gigantic.
Only a good interpretation will let you appreciate the true value of this funerary site, for that reason and as much as you want to separate yourself from the group to capture the best possible images of the towers, do not let go of your guide and their explanations of what happened here.
Sillustani is far from being the end of the journey –like for those that continued to what lies beyond through the chullpas…
For the final part of the evening, you will be set up on top of the hill in Chifrón, an enviable location to enjoy the view with the great lake that looks like the sea. You are already on the shores of Titicaca!
Contact with the Titicaca
To celebrate the arrival to the shores of Titicaca, we invite you to walk through the community of Llachón to its veneration center called Carus. The tour is very quiet and pleasant, along a very well marked path that will take you to the top, from where you have a privileged view of the surroundings. There is Chifrón, and the bed that hosted you last night. Over there is Amantani, tomorrow’s destination. But today’s first destination has so little area that it can’t be seen from a distance.
There is no way we would present the riches of Puno without taking you to see the unique life of the Uros. However, is necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff, and that is why we look for families that authentically spend their lives floating on the artisanally made islands.
This is how the Uros Titino will be able to tell you directly about the day to day life of their family island, and how the problems of modernity and globalization are faced when they live “off the grid” on the highest navigable lake in the world.
The final recommendation, after a session of contact with reality, is to have more fun with a very competitive volleyball game, which will give you more laughs than points, and the subsequent memory of having played with water over 4 thousand meters above sea level.
Everything is now ready to hop over to Taquile, the second largest natural island of the Titicaca in Peruvian waters.
Rock islands and enviable sand beaches
There are parts of this island that offer very different perceptions of it, and if one does not allow yourself the time to get to know it well, you could leave with an incomplete or wrong impression of the destination. Say no more! For we have put our legs to work again, but we assure you that your tired feet will find a natural spa in the beaches we have prepared for your delight.
The population of Taquile is estimated to be that of about 70 families, or more than two thousand people. The customs are very ingrained and that is a pleasure to see. There is always one or two external influences among the youngest ones, but in general, the feeling one has is that of cultural authenticity.
It is surprising to see how everything has been based on stone: the houses, the perimeters, the roads. It is rather surprising to see how the main activity is agriculture, when it seems that the scarce land drains downstream with each rain and the nutrients are taken year after year by the crops.
But there is another side of Taquile, which recalls images and sensations of being in places typical of very blockbuster films. A slightly populated and balanced environment with nature and a nice circuit of beaches that are connected by an idyllic cliff.
The day extends with the jump to Amantaní, the largest island in the Peruvian territory (because the largest of all is Isla del Sol in Bolivia). Although you will surely feel very comfortable resting in the beautiful lodge that we have reserved for you, we suggest you put your boots back on to ascend to Pachatata, the center of veneration for the male deity of the island, but if you prefer, you can also take the leap to the Pachamama and balance the forces of gender.
Today it is time to say farewell and although for now, Puno says goodbye, we are sure that everything you will see in this week of travel will simply encourage you to continue discovering other secrets of the region and of Peru. But, what about if before boarding the plane (if there is time), you give yourself a break for a good rowing session aboard Polynesian canoes, or perhaps a delicious dinner before the flight. We’ll see.
If now you are craving for Puno and want to experience it like never before, contact us!
More from Puno & Titicaca Lake
From the 'White City' across the most renowned Peruvian canyon to the great lake, the best hotels of the Arequipa-Colca-Titicaca …