LAKE TITICACA AND PUNO
Set at 3,800 metres (11,800 feet) in Peru's south eastern Andes, Puno is located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake. The surrounding area is rich in spectacular landscapes and archaeological ruins. It is also rich in folklore and legends, one of which tells how the first Inca, Manco Capac and his sister-consort, rose from the depths of the lake to found the Inca Empire, with its capital Cuzco. The Uros Indians, living on their unique floating reed islands, much of their way of life unchanged for centuries, are said to be the direct descendants of those Incas. Visitors can tour the floating islands and also the more remote Taquile or Amantani Islands, renowned for their original hand-weaving techniques. There are no hotels, but visitors wishing to stay overnight are welcomed into the islanders' own homes. Visitors more interested in archaeology and architecture will be fascinated by the tombs - the Chullpas of Sillustani- or the unspoilt villages of Pomata and Juli with their beautiful Colonial churches.
Puno is known as the Capital of Peruvian folklore and is famous for the number and quality of its colourful, original festivals. The main festival, lasting seven days at the beginning of February, is dedicated to the "Virgen de la Candelaria", and if you dance at three subsequent festivals, the wish you made the first year will come true.