The little town of Puno on the shores of massive Lake Titicaca has plenty to offer travelers. First, there’s the Sillustani Burial Towers, which we wrote about here. The lake itself is the biggest drawy, however, so on day one in Puno, make your way to the lake for a walk along the Ecotouristic Inca Seafront Bay (Malecón Ecoturístico Bahía de los Incas), a pedestrian path showcasing views of Lake Titicaca and pre-Inca solar clocks, or hitching posts of the sun known as sukankas or intihuatanas. Once at the harbor, stop into the Yaraví Ship Naval Museum if it’s open that day. The museum is located inside the oldest single-propeller iron ship in the world, built in Britain, crossed the Andes in pieces on mule-back and then reassembled again in the Lake.
When you´re ready to hit the waters of the lake itself, board a motorboat and stop by the traditional Quechua-speaking Islands of Amantani and Taquile, whose colorful weavings are considered the best in Peru and were proclaimed by UNESCO as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and the Floating Islands of Uros, whose Aymara-speaking Uros tribe (known as kot-suña, people of the lake) depend on the lake´s tortora reeds for housing, sustenance, and transport in addition to using them to build and maintain the islands themselves.
It’s easy to get to Puno by taking an overnight bus from Copacabana, Cusco, or Arequipa. The bus trip from Cusco takes about 8 hours and is by far the most popular way of traveling to Puno. Another common option, which is only slightly more expensive, would be to opt for a daytime bus with guided stops. However, if you’ve got plenty of cash to spare, the absolute best way to arrive is by train- this route by Orient Express has won a number of prizes and is said by some to be one of the world’s great train journeys.The trains leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and on Thursday depending on demand. If flying is more your style, just remember that the nearest airport is actually an hour outside of Puno, in Juliaca, although it is not difficult to catch a shuttle or shared taxi to Puno. Check out our Cusco to Puno by Bus and Train post for more details if you’re interestd in comparing your options.
Pirwa Puno is centrally located just a couple of blocks from Puno’s Main Square (the Plaza de Armas), about a 15 minute walk from the Lake Titicaca harbor. Its facilities include an in-house bar and DVD collection that you can use in the lounge or rooms, free internet + wi-fi, security lockers in the shared dorms, free secure luggage storage, and more. There are both private rooms and shared dormitories, all with private bathrooms, hot water 24/7, and comfortable beds. If Lake Titicaca is one your itinerary, stop by and visit us in Puno!