If you’re traveling to Peru, you’ve probably found yourself wondering: Is Lake Titicaca worth the trip to Puno?
The last stop on our Peruvian adventure was Puno to see the Uros Indians on Lake Titicaca. The drive from Cusco to Puno was a long one (about 6 hours), but the scenery was spectacular as we drove through the Andes Mountain range and climbed to the highest elevation on the trip – over 12,500.00 feet.
En route to Puno, we stopped at a small school in an underprivileged community. The purpose of our stop was to drop off the boatloads of school supplies we had hauled from the States to give to the children.
The kids were extremely thankful and were a lot of fun to play with. My “giant” husband was particularly popular in light of his skilled “helicopter rides.”
Where to Stay in Puno:
In Puno we stayed at Hotel Royal Inn Puno, just a block off the Plaza de Armas. The Hotel was lovely with spacious rooms and gorgeous granite bathrooms with large soaking tubs. Unfortunately, I was fighting the flu while in Puno, so hot baths in this hotel were my savior!
What to Do, Eat & Drink in Puno:
Puno itself is a bit of a lackluster town without much to do or see, but the small downtown area did have a number of restaurants and bars, all which cater to the hoards of tourists that flock to the area to visit Lake Titicaca. You can find good, inexpensive pizza at Pizzaria El Buho, or if you are looking for a slightly more upscale dining experience, I would recommend having dinner at Mojsa. Puno’s nightlife is on, or just off, the pedestrian walking street, Jiron Lima. Check out the graffiti filled lodge, Kamizaraky Rock Pub, for an unique atmosphere, or reggae themed Positive Vibrations bar for delicious hot cocktails. I’d also recommend doing the majority of your souvenir shopping in Puno since the open air market offers handicrafts and clothing made from alpaca wool at much lower prices than you will find in Cuzco.
After getting our bearings in Puno, we headed to Lake Titicaca. The punchline of many jokes from American teenagers and “Beavis & Butthead,” Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable body of water at 12,566 feet.
Why visit the lake?
Mainly to see the Uros Indians and their Floating Islands. The Uros islands are made from totora reeds and are home to a few hundred indigenous people who live on the man-made islands year round. We took a tour of several of the islands and the locals showed us how they create and maintain their islands. They allowed us into their homes to see how they lived, and then, of course, tried to sell us their handicrafts.
Although a bit touristy (to the point where we found ourselves wondering whether the Uros actually live on the islands year round, or only when they were trying to hawk their wares to overly-eager tourists), it was interesting to see the extraordinary lifestyle that the Uros choose.
So, what’s the verdict? Is Lake Titicaca Worth the Trip?
Eh… unfortunately, I’m going to have to go with “probably not” on this one. I know some may disagree with me, but in my opinion, unless you find yourself with a few weeks in Peru or fascinated by the concept of the Uros and their floating islands, I think you could probably skip Puno on your Peruvian itinerary. That said, you’ll find great value for your dollar in Puno when it comes to accommodations, shopping and dining.
This post is part of my series on Peru. Click here to read my other Peru posts.