One of the most famous locations in South America, Lake Titicaca is visited by most vacationers to Peru via the port town of Puno. We took a scenic bus ride there from the Sacred Valley, and enjoyed a number of sights and attractions.
Taquile Island is a serene experience accessible by boat.
A small, steep land form with little more than a handful of inhabitants, Taquile Island is an interesting place to spend the afternoon. The locals have a unique tradition where the men are actually the village knitters, and create interesting hats to wear during cooler weather. We landed by boat, and strolled up one of the walking trails past farm animals, children and wild flowers. There are many opportunities for photo ops on the walk, and a small restaurant or two at the top where you can enjoy a lunch of fresh fish.
The Uros floating islands are a must-see attraction while youíre visiting Lake Titicaca.
Similar to the Marsh Arabs of southern Iraq, the Uros tribe of Lake Titicaca resides on floating reed islands which they continually replenish. Additionally, their homes and boats are also made of twisted and knotted reeds. Their traditional dress is quite colorful and similar to other costumes youíll see throughout the Peruvian Andes.
The ancient ruins of Sillustani are a stoneís throw day excursion from Puno.
Worth the visit for the unusual construction and design, the Sillustani archaeological site is near Lake Titicaca and in the neighborhood of a number of village homes that are open to the occasional visitor stopping by. Our day guide had arranged a stop with a family, and we found a few more photo ops within the stone home, including through the antics of one of the children that lived there.
The Yavari is an interesting Puno attraction you can visit from the shore.
Delivered to Lake Titicaca in sections over the mountain on the backs of donkeys, the Yavari is a uniquely historic ship that has been restored for visitation. They even have a post box that you can mail a postcard from. The area near the ship is grassy, and home to a handful llamas which add to the adventure. Itís a little bit outside of the center of Puno, but easily accessible.
The town of Puno itself isnít exactly picturesque, but there are a few interesting areas, including a public plaza and a local market with great deals on produce and artisan cheeses. The restaurant scene was fairly nondescript, although we did find one hidden gem. La Fonda de Santiago is operated by a woman from northern Italy, who has developed a great menu. The atmosphere at the restaurant is quite charming, and includes an outdoor courtyard with umbrella-shaded tables.