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Puno: Complete guide
Best way to know Puno
Puno
Nicole Maxdeo
April 1, 2024

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World-renowned for Lake Titicaca and its stunning floating islands of Los Uros, Taquile, and Amantani, this place, proud of its traditions and past, witnesses the magic of the Candelaria festival every year. Undoubtedly, there is not a single reason why you wouldn’t want to visit such a magical place. Are you ready to learn more?

Table of Contents

Location: Where is Puno?

History of Puno

Before the arrival of the Spaniards, Puno was a small village admired for its proximity to Lake Titicaca. It was inhabited by two main groups: the Kollas (Quechuas) to the north and the Lupacas (Aymaras) to the south.

By the end of the 16th century, the southern part of Puno, controlled by the Lupacas, focused primarily on agriculture, farming, and cultural development. In the northern part, where Juliaca is located, resided the Kollas, with their governance extending to Lake Titicaca.

Puno remained a modest town until the Viceroy Conde de Lemos transformed it into the capital of the province of Paucarcolla on November 4th, 1668. Simultaneously, its old name of San Juan Bautista de Puno was changed to San Carlos de Puno.

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. This lake is considered the highest in the world. In this department is located the highest lake in the world: Lake Titicaca.

Climate of Puno

Climate of Puno

We won't lie, Puno is characterized by being cold and dry. It has almost 4 months of rainfall.

Due to the elevation of the highlands and its unique geographical condition in the world, there are practically only two well-defined climatic seasons. Winter, which blends into autumn and lasts from May to October, with cold nights but sunny days and intense brightness. Spring, merging into summer, is the rainy season and extends from November to April. The average temperature is 9°C, with warm days reaching 24°C and cold nights with temperatures of 2 to 3°C.

Food

Puno's cuisine revolves around local ingredients such as alpaca, chuño, and local fish, among others. Here are some of its dishes:

Alpaca chicharrón

Alpaca meat is quite nutritious and low in calories, so if you're in the mood for fried food, this may be your ideal choice. The meat is cooked until all the water is consumed, then it is browned and served with potatoes, chuño, Andean corn, or a delicious Creole sauce.

El chairo

It is a hearty and nutritious soup, perfect for eating before or during long workdays. It is made with potatoes, black chuño, lamb meat, vegetables such as carrots, onions, beans, chalona (dried lamb meat), and seasonings such as salt and oregano. In Puno, it is very popular for its high nutritional value and exquisite flavor.

Quinoa pesque

Puno is the largest producer of quinoa in the country, so it's no surprise that it has dishes where this ingredient is the star. Quinoa pesque is a stew made with milk, cheese, butter, salt, and of course, quinoa. Very simple to make and very nutritious, as quinoa is one of our superfoods. It is usually accompanied by a meat stew, either lamb or beef.

Quinoa chupe

Since it contains quinoa, this dish is already quite nutritious. It is cooked in cold water without salt and contains vegetables such as beans, corn, carrots, seafood, or fish. It is served with potatoes and also huacatay leaves.

Fried trout

Trout is caught in Lake Titicaca and contains nutrients and proteins such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and zinc. It is super easy to make, as after frying the fresh trout seasoned with salt, it can be accompanied by boiled or fried potatoes, Creole sauce, corn or cooked chuño, and rice.

Flora and fauna

Puno is the habitat of birds such as flamingos; fish such as carachi, suche, trout, and silverside; and totora, which is an aquatic weed that can be as high as 3 meters.

The totora is used by the Uros as material in the construction of houses and canoes, and as baby food -the lowest portion of the stem is called ch'ullu -because it is a good source of iodine. The lake was declared a National Reserve in October 1978, with the aim of preserving its natural species and picturesque beauty.

In addition, Puno enchants us with its landscapes along its slopes where you can observe beautiful vicuñas, alpacas, llamas, cattle, and sheep, which are found in the wild or domesticated.

How to get to Puno

How to get to Puno

To get to Puno, we generally have the following options:

Airplane:

The airport is located in Juliaca, this airport receives flights from Lima, Arequipa, and Cusco, and is the fastest way to get to Puno. From here, you can take a taxi that takes almost 45 minutes to get to Puno.

Interprovincial transport buses:

From Lima, the journey to Puno takes almost 18 hours.

Train:

If you are in Cusco, you can choose to take the Andean Explorer train from the PeruRail chain.

What to visit in Puno

Puno is known worldwide for Lake Titicaca, but this department has more attractions to visit, among which we have:

Balcón del Conde de Lemos

This is a colonial corner balcony in a house where the Viceroy who founded Puno once stayed, and it predates the Cathedral.

Arco Deustua, from 1847, a monument in honor of those who fell in the battles of Junín and Ayacucho.

Visit the Cathedral of Puno

This is a very nice place to visit in Puno. The cathedral is located in the Plaza de Armas and was built in 1757 by the builder Simón de Asto. He was helped by several miners to build such a similar building.

Municipal Museum Carlos Dreyer,

where there are historical documents, ancient textiles, a numismatic collection, and pre-Inca sculptures.

Corregidor's House

Next to the main square, in the heart of the historic center, is one of the oldest buildings. It dates back to the 17th century and is one of the most important monuments in Puno.

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