Straddling Bolivia and Peru’s southern border is the world’s highest navigable body of water, a sterling expanse of deep blue at 12,566 feet above sea level. This is the fabled Lake Titicaca—from which the original Inca chieftain, believed to be a direct descendant of the sun, is said to have risen along with his sister to found the Inca Empire. Traversing these waters you encounter a different world, as the inhabitants who live on the lake’s numerous islands still hold to their ancient customs and traditions. The Uros Indians in particular might remain on their floating islands, artificially made with reed, because they believe themselves to be Lake People by birth, the very descendants of the royal siblings themselves.
Situated on the lake’s banks, you’ll find the city that hugs these waters. Originally home to the most advanced civilization of all the Aymara people, known as the Tiwanaku, Puno is the renowned “Folkloric Capital of Peru” due to its rich artistic and cultural expression, its dance particularly, which is most notably observed during the city’s La Fiesta de la Virgen de la Candelaria—Peru’s largest and most important musical and dancing cultural event, as well as one of the 3 most culturally significant in all the continent. Additionally, a journey to the city’s outskirts affords several interesting opportunities such as the chance to see the impressive burial towers at Chullpas Sillustani; the lovely colonial churches of Juli; or the famous pre-Inca pottery of Pucara, including the clay “bulls of Pucara” which are still crafted by artisans today.