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Travelers who enter and exit Peru by land generally do so vía Puno in the Peruvian highlands, at the edge of the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Far from being a mere wayside stop, however, it’s a destination for thousands of travelers. Its greatest attractions are the islands of Lake Titicaca, especially the storied Floating Islands of Uros, man-made reed islands which are home to the Aymara-speaking Uros people, believed to be the oldest living culture of the Americas. Travelers often make it a point to visit one of the the traditional Quechua-speaking islands as well, either Taquile or Amantani, both of which have pre-Incan and Incan temples and terracing. They’re reknowned for their knitting and textile arts, which they’ve practiced for thousands of years; Taquile’s colorful textiles were even declared “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” by UNESCO.
When to go…
If you’re wondering when will be the best times to go, there are some unique festivals which take place in January/February and November. both One of Peru’s, and South America’s, most spectacular festivals is the Virgin of Candelaria, where for two weeks from late January through early February, thousands of vibrantly costumed dancers and musicians demonstrate why Puno is considered the country’s folkloric capital.
Each November, the devil leads his own parade and the legendary founder of the Inca Empire, Manco Cápac, rises anew from the waters of Lake Titicaca during the colorful Diablada Festival. Both festivals are marked by concerts, food fairs, fireworks, and many dances.
How to Get There…
Unfortunately for those who prefer to travel by plane, Puno doesn’t actually have an airport- it’s served by the Inca Manco Capac Airport in Juliaca, about an hour outside of town. There is public transport available for those heading towards Puno, however. Many choose to go by bus (and for those of you arriving between 7am and 7pm, Pirwa Puno Backpackers can often arrange to pick you up from the bus terminal or individual stations for free!). If you’re planning on traveling by bus from Cusco to Puno or vice-versa, look into the Sun Route for guided stops along the way. Another option is to travel by train, the priciest choice and one not often chosen by the backpacker set, but if you’re interested, the Cusco-to-Puno route by rail is actually one of the America’s most famous train journeys.
Where to Stay…
Pirwa Puno Backpackers is a cozy budget hostel located just a 15 minute walk from Lake Titicaca Harbor (close to Puno’s main street Calle Independencia Lima, and only a couple blocks from the main square). It offers a variety of shared dorms and private rooms, all with comfortable beds and private bathrooms. Communal areas include the TV and Movie Lounge, Guest Kitchen, Breakfast Room, and Patio. Our local travel expert, Margot, can help arrange all manner of excursions, including visits to the Floating Islands of Uros or transport to Copacabana. While you’re out exploring the Folkloric Capital of Peru, your belongings will be safe thanks to the security lockers in the dorm rooms, luggage storage room, and a warm reception staff that’s on hand 24 hours. One big change we’ve had recently is the purchase of additional heating units for those of you anxious about the cold of the Peruvian highlands. We hope that you’ll include us in your Peruvian adventures!
For more detailed tips and recommendations regarding Puno’s climate, nightlife, food, etc, check out our website’s Puno Tips page.
We’ve got new photos of Pirwa Colonial Backpackers in Cusco! Here you can see the front and back interior patios, a private married double and one of the shared dorms. Allow us to show off a bit….
Check out the site for more info on Pirwa Colonial Backpackers, because there’s a lot that isn’t included in these shots- the in-house travel agency, bar, fast food stand, and more!
Today the celebrations for Machu Picchu´s Centennial have begun- Happy 100 years MaPi! National Geographic´s Mark Adams published an excellent article entitled “Top 10 Machu Picchu Secrets” for the magazine, whose involvement with early expeditions and excavations at the site are legendary. The list is summarized below, although you´ll need to check the National Geographic site if you would like to read the original text.
- It’s not really the Lost City of the Incas. When Hiram Bingham first arrived in Machu Picchu in 1911, he was searching for the Lost City of Vilcabamba, a hidden capital where the Inca took refuge during the Spanish Conquest. Machu Picchu became known as “The Lost City” because of Bingham´s erroneous belief that it was Vilcabamba- but, as it was inhabited when Bingham arrived, many contend that Machu Picchu was never forgotten.
- It´s buildings have survived being built atop 2 fault lines. While cities like Lima and Cusco have been leveled by earthquakes, Machu Picchu, straddling two fault lines, has survived seismic movements due to the precise polygonalstonework of its walls, whose stones shift during quakes and then fall back into place without the benefit of mortar.
- Most of the site´s construction work is underground. Much of the work for constructing Machu Picchu involvedleveling ground between two mountain peaks, which involved the movement of stone and earth and means that 60% of the site´s construction is underground, setting the foundation and providing drainage with crushed rocks.
- You can avoid train and entry costs by walking. You can avoid expensive train tickets and the bus and entry fees by walking along HiramBingham´s 1911 route overlooking Machu Picchu. This somewhat arduous trip back in time will take about 90minutes.
- There’s an ignored but excellent museum. About a ½ hour walkfrom Machu Picchu Pueblo/Aguas Calientes you´ll find the small butoutstanding Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón (the Manuel Chávez Ballón Site Museum). For $8 you can tour exhibits explaining the reasons for and method of construction of Machu Picchu.
- There’s an alternative to Huayna Picchu Peak. Visitors frequently overnight in Machu Picchu Pueblo/Aguas Calientes in order to rise before the sun and be among those receiving limited entry to the trail climbing Huayna Picchu and win (after the fog clears) an overhead view of the site. However, on the opposite side of the
Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is another, almost always overlooked peak known as Machu Picchu Mountain. Its twice as tall (1640ft) but will earn you stunning views overlooking the Urubamba River looping around Machu Picchu.
- There’s an overlooked temple. Once you´ve reached the peak of Huayna Picchu, you can take the longer route for your descent, crossing the far side of the mountain where you´ll find an Incan ceremonial shrine known as the Temple of the Moon.
- There´s still much to discover. Machu Picchu´s surrounding cloud forests obscure side paths within the foliage, wherethere may be unknown trails and ruins- several recently fixed-up terraces are only just now being made available to the public.
- Its orientation was divinely inspired. Many visitors have understood the importance of the site´s orientation, which allows the intihuatana, or sun stone, to align with an arrow stone on Huana Picchu´s Peak to the north and with Salcantay´s Peak in the south as well as with solar movements- no small coincidence considering that the sun and mountains were important deities to the Incas.
- It might be a pilgrimage site. Italian archeoastronomer Giulio Magli has introduced a new theory hypothesizing that Machu Picchu was pilgrimage site, the end of a long journey beginning at the Island of the Sun in Lake Titicaca, echoing the journey of the mythical founder of the Inca Empire, Manco Capác, took.
For those who like experimental, live tourism, this, after Carnival (February) is the best time to come. Some of the most interesting Easter activities happen outside Lima – Ayacucho, Cuzco. Biggest processions, mass of people participating.
Last usually 12 days during which you’ll witness the flood of people expressing their beliefs and faith. In Cuzco, Machu Picchu, we give you cheap hostel choices.
You’ll be able to see Holy Monday procession of “El Señor de los Temblores” (The Lord of the Earthquakes) in Cuzco from a private balcony on the main town square “Plaza de Armas”.
There will be several religious activities in all the Cathedrals. “Domingo de Ramos” – Palm Sunday is full of activities around churches. People will buy their wooden crosses and get them blessed so they can hang then on their doors.
Since the tourist traffic is kind of slow during that period (included in the low season); you’ll find some great deals in hostels booking, specially at Pirwa hostels.
In countries such as United Kingdom, United States, The Holy week is also accompanied with chocolates and gifts. Here in Cusco, you’ll also find your way by visiting the “Choco Museo” “Chocolate Museum”.
Have a blessed Easter!
Cheap hostels in Peru
HOSTELS IN LIMA : Pirwa backpackers hostel Lima Prada | Pirwa bed&breakfast hostel Lima Inclan
HOSTEL IN NAZCA : Pirwa backpackers hostel Nazca
HOSTELS IN AREQUIPA : Pirwa bed&breakfast hostel Arequipa | Pirwa hostel Arequipa
HOSTEL IN PUNO : Pirwa backpackers hostel Puno
HOSTELS IN CUSCO : Pirwa backpackers hostel colonial Cusco | Pirwa bed&breakfast hostel Suecia Cusco | Pirwa hostel San Blas-Cusco | Pirwa bed&breakfast hostel Posada del Corregidor
HOSTEL IN MACHU PICCHU : Pirwa backpackers hostel Machu Picchu