Legends of Puno
Are you ready to discover this amazing stories?
Nicole Maxdeo
April 6, 2024

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These stories, passed down from generation to generation, evoke a world filled with magical beings, legendary heroes, and spirits that inhabit the mountains and lakes of the region.

Through these narratives, the inhabitants of Puno keep alive their connection to the land, honoring their ancestors and celebrating the rich cultural heritage that defines this land of beauty and mystery in the heart of the Andes.

Table of Contents

Location: Where is Puno?

The department of Puno is located at an altitude of approximately 3,827 meters above sea level, although some regions reach up to 6,000 meters! Altitude sickness is common here, but there is nothing that proper acclimatization cannot cure.

Geographically speaking, Puno is located in the southeast of Peru, on the Collao Plateau surrounded by the Carabaya mountain range to the north and the Western Cordillera to the southwest. In this small department, as mentioned earlier, we can find Lake Titicaca. In this department is located the highest lake in the world: Lake Titicaca. Let's discover the Legends of Puno.

Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo

Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, according to Incan mythology, are fundamental to the origin of the Inca empire. The purpose of their mission was to found the powerful civilization that would develop in the Andes. Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo emerged from Lake Titicaca, to be more precise, on the island of Taquile. What was their mission? To find fertile land to establish the capital of what would become the great Inca empire.

The journey of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo took them through the Peruvian highlands, where they finally reached the Cusco Valley. There, according to the legend, Manco Cápac drove a golden staff into the earth, which sank effortlessly. 

Today, people remember and incorporate the legend of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo into Andean culture. The inhabitants recognize this fact in their customs and in the local culture itself.

Legends of Puno: Kusillo

Kusillo is known as a figure that forms part of the mysticism of Andean culture. People depict him as a dwarf with a large, colorful, leafy hat. According to legend, Kusillo appears at celebrations and festivals in the highlands, specifically in Puno. His purpose is to entertain the people with dance and mischief. It is known that his presence brings joy to the people and good fortune to the community.

Kusillo characterizes himself with his cheerful, mischievous, and playful nature. As the festivities progress, people attribute any kind of mischief or madness to Kusillo. He dances and has so much fun that he challenges the people to keep up with his rhythm. People believe that his dance represents the connection between humans and the spiritual world, and they see his presence as a blessing to the community.

It is evident that Kusillo is a mythical figure, not easily verifiable, but people can notice his presence in the festivities and daily life of Puno. His cheerful spirit and contagious energy animate the people and strengthen community ties.

Legends of Puno : Bird Man

This legend tells us the story of a young man who fell deeply in love with a beautiful woman who had the form of a bird. This woman was native to the shores of Lake Titicaca. Such was his desire to be with her that he did the impossible. He sought help from many Andean gods, who were able to teach him how to change his state, and he was able to transform. Thus, the young man was able to become a bird to go to his beloved and fly over the lake.

This legend is a testament to the love, magic, and adventure of two young lovers. Generations have passed down the legend as a love story. Additionally, people say that the sound of the gentle wind summons the birdsong, where they whisper this romantic love story.

The history around Lake Titicaca is a marvel. People say that massive earthquakes shook the Andes, dividing the mountain range into two and forming a hole that eventually filled with water from the melting glaciers, creating bodies of water, rivers, and ultimately the immense Lake Titicaca. This setting is perfect for such legends.

Legends of Puno: Puma of Puno

Up in the mountains surrounding Puno, there is a story of a somewhat magical Puma that surrounds and protects the highland earth and its surroundings. This statue also has its legend, as it is believed that the puma appears when the city needs it most. Whether in times of danger or difficult situations, he appears in these places to defend the land and its inhabitants.

The presence of this Puma represents nothing more than protection and care. It is said that his roar helps to drive away bad vibes or evil spirits.

Both the puma, the condor, and the serpent make up the trilogy of sacred animals for the Incas. In Puno, they have a viewpoint where you can see the statue of a puma, which watches over the city of Puno and the Andes.

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