Archive for the ‘Pirwa Puno’ Category
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.
Puno’s Founding Anniversary & the La Diablada Festival
Each year during the first week of November, Puno, known throughout Peru as the country’s ‘Capital of Folklore’, explodes into color and movement as it celebrates both its founding anniversary and the Diablada Festival, showing off its hundreds of dances through parades and contests. The week is also marked by fireworks, concerts, food fairs, and handicraft fairs, so any backpackers thinking of traveling
Backpackers lucky enough to make it to Puno in time will get to watch as the devil leads his own parade of elaborately costumed and masked dancing demons with red crucifixes. The dance known as the Diablada mixes the 1500s religious theater used by the Spanish Jesuits to teach the Lupaka natives of Juli about Catholic doctrine and Andean ceremonial dances whose roots may go as deep as the Aymara Anchanchu or Supaya deities, or even 2000 year old rituals by the Uru civilization known as the dance of the devils.
This year celebrations begin on Oct 29th (although Miss Puno was crowned last week in preparation). The official 2012 program is as follows:
Sunday, Oct 28
1st Grand “Puno, Silver City” Parade begins at 8am and will head throughout the city center.
Thursday, Nov 1-3
“Sabores Andina 2012” Food Fair at Huajsapata Market
Saturday, Nov 3
Celebration of Puneñan Night in honor of the city’s 344th founding anniversary and the recent official national recognition bestowed upon the pandilla puneña as part of Peru’s cultural heritage. Festivities throughout the day, and from 9pm the outdoor concerts of the Grand Serenade will take place on the esplanade of the Terminal Terrestre.
The ritual reenactment of the Rise of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, which involves the participation of more than 200 artists, will take place at Chucuito at 6am. According to the origin legends of the Incas, the founders of the Inca Empire mythically rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca before making their way to the area now known as Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. During the reenactment, the founders exit the lake in traditional reed boats with an entourage of more than a hundred rafters.
Sunday, Nov 11
The Symphony of the Sikuris begins at 10am in front of the main entry door UNA on Avenida Sesquicentenario-Alameda Universitaria. 3,000 Sikuris will gather on the shores of Lake Titicaca in an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record, wresting the title from Bolivia. Sikuris play the siku, or Andean panpipes, alongside some accompanying drums. As sikus cannot play all the notes of a scale, players produce melodies by using an interlocking technique.
The only Guinness judge in all of South America will be present as the gathering plays 5 songs from the requisite local, national, and international levels. The local songs will be Huajchapuquito, Cerrito de Huajsapata, and Flor de Kactus. The national songs will be the popular Cóndor Pasa and the Himno al Sol. Finally, the international offering will be Haydn’s String Quartet.
How to Get to Puno & Where to Stay
Don’t want to miss the festivities? It’s easy to get to Puno by taking an overnight bus from Copacabana, Cusco, or Arequipa. The bus trip from Cusco takes about 8 hours and is by far the most popular way of traveling to Puno. However, if you’ve got the cash to spare, the absolute best way to arrive is by train- this route by Orient Express has won a number of prizes and is said by some to be one of the world’s great train journeys.The trains leave on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and on Thursday depending on demand. If flying is more your style, just remember that the nearest airport is actually an hour outside of Puno, in Juliaca, although it is not difficult to catch a shuttle or shared taxi to Puno.
Pirwa Puno is centrally located just a couple of blocks from Puno’s Main Square (the Plaza de Armas), about a 15 minute walk from the Lake Titicaca harbor. Its facilities include an in-house bar and DVD collection that you can use in the lounge or rooms, free internet + wi-fi, security lockers in the shared dorms, free secure luggage storage, and more. There are both private rooms and shared dormitories, all with private bathrooms, hot water 24/7, and comfortable beds. If Lake Titicaca is one your itinerary, stop by and visit us in Puno!
When: The festival lasts about 9 days, it begins this year on May 1st, but the main day is always May 3rd
Where: Both the Alasitas Fair and the Festivity of the Bellavista Cross will take place in the neighborhood of Bellavista (ask for Barrio Bellavista), which is close to Puno’s city center and thus within walking distance from the train station and most hotels. Stalls will be set up along Avenida Floral, up to the height of La Paccha (Zampoña)
This May, more than a thousand eight hundred artisans and vendors will be participating in the Alasitas Fair, an Aymara tradition dedicated to the fulfillment of dreams and practiced in the buying and selling of miniatures. Common items include homes, vehicles, money, construction materials, grocery stores, diplomas and licenses, travel documents and more.
Many of these miniatures are destined to be bestowed on statues of the Aymara deity of abundance and prosperity, Ekkekko (dwarf). These represent the wishes of each person, which they hope the Ekkekko will grant them in the coming year. Once families have received an Ekkekko statue (you’re supposed to receive them, or give them as gifts, but not buy one for yourself), they’re responsible for giving him cigarettes and speaking to him to ensure his good graces. You’ll see Ekkekkos throughout the fair, dressed in traditional ponchos, with characteristically open mouths so that you can offer him pleasing cigarettes, and with open arms that you can fill them with miniature goods. In order to help the items bring you luck, it is customary for vendors to bless your purchase, performing a ritualistic ceremony for you in which he or she blows a charcoal and incense smoke over them, sprays them with alcohol, sprinkles confetti, and them wraps them in long thin ribbons while chanting.
The Alasitas fair is an interesting stop thanks to the ingenious variety of miniatures, the carnavalesque atmosphere, and parties that continue into the night. It runs at the same time as the Festivity of the Bellavista Cross, in a classic representation of the syncretism of Andean beliefs.
It all begins on May 1st with the Popular Miniature Art Fair’s inauguration, reception of the musical bands and the welcome to the Lord of the Bellavista Cross. Before the ceremony there’ll be a colorful parade and the entry of the Ekkekko.
On the 2nd, the day will break to the burning of the castles, so expect to hear loud booms throughout Puno as these wooden constructions laden with fireworks are lit. May 3rd is always the main day, which will see the mass and procession in honor of the Bellavista cross. Some sources say that the miniature craftsmen competition and the awarding of prizeswill take place on May 3rd in Parque de la Madre, others on May 9rd.
Surely you’re wondering where you should stay during your visit to Puno, and why yes, we do have a suggestion- check out Pirwa Puno Backpackers here! If you need any help arranging your travel plans- from bus transport and flights to excursions throughout Puno, it’s outskirts, and stunning Lake Titicaca- Pirwa Hostels has it’s own travel agency, Pirwa Travel Service, with tour specialists eager to help!
Pirwa Puno Backpackers is offering the best prices of the year, with 15% off all rooms. With a variety of shared dorms and private rooms, all with private bath, you’re sure to find a room which suits you- and you’ll pay less for it too!With an enviable location not far from Lake Titicaca and all of the services you’ve come to expect from Pirwa Hostels, Pirwa Puno Backpackers is an excellent choice for those looking for a cozy and welcoming place to stay in Puno. You can access the discount by reserving through our booking page. And if you’re traveling through Peru, don’t overlook all that Puno has to offer. We’ve compiled a small list of interesting sights to see for those of you compiling your itinerary:
The Attractions of Lake Titicaca
Massive Lake Titicaca stretches between Bolivia and Peru. As a dominant part of the protected area of Titicaca National Reserve, the world’s highest navigable lake protects more than 60 bird species, including the parihuana, whose colors inspired those of the Peruvian flag. Some of the lake’s sights you can see without really leaving the shores. The pedestrian path known as the Ecotouristic Inca Seafront Bay (Malecón Ecoturístico Bahía de los Incas) boasts not only stunning views but also pre-Inca artifacts known as across sukankas, or intihuatanas, which functioned as solar clocks, played the central role in rituals, and marked inter-communal land borders. Another good stop is the Yaraví, which as built in 1861 in Great Britain and crossed the Andes in pieces on mule-back. Now the oldest single-propeller iron ship in the world, the Yaraví Ship Museum stays anchored in Lake Titicaca porter as a free naval museum.
The lake’s most famous destination are the forty Floating Islands of Uros, artificial islands crafted from the lake’s most prevalent plant, the tortora reed. Which for the Aymara-speaking Uros Tribe, the kot-suña, people of the lake, provide food and shelter in addition to a material for island construction. They support themselves through fishing, weaving and tourism and have clung to their traditional way of life. They are believed to be the oldest surviving culture in the Americas.
Atop the two mountain peaks on Amantani Island, Pachatata (Father Earth) and Pachamama (Mother Earth), one finds ruins dating back to the Inca Empire and the pre-Inca Kingdom of Tiwanaku. Every January 20th the Quechua-speaking population opens the temples for a feast day, with half congregating in each temple, for a race between the chosen representatives of each temple to a midpoint between the peaks. The nature of the year to come will be foretold depending on which temple wins. Aside from the temple ruins and colorfully dressed traditional population, you’ll also enjoy the beauty of the island’s terraced hillsides. Another very traditional island is Taquile Island is considered to produce some of the highest quality handicrafts in Peru. In fact, their traditional weavings were proclaimed “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2005. It also boasts pre-Incan terraces and ruins. Islanders still wear a mix of Spanish colonial dress with Andean touches and manage the community collectively, subsisting mainly on fishing, farming, and tourism.
The Outskirts of Puno
You can reach the sacred pre-Inca Sillustani Chullpas, or burial towers, but about 45 minutes by car from Puno. These structures, the final resting place for noble mummies awaiting rebirth, populate a burial ground located on a cold hilltop overlooking Lake Umayo. The circular towers are wider on top than on bottom, making them unique in South America. Another popular site are the ruins of Inca Uyo (Aymara for Place of the Inca), which date to after the Inca Conquest of the Lupaka Kingdom of Tiahuanaku. Inside of the ceremonial complex you´ll find many phallic stones 2-3ft high arranged upright like mushrooms. Though both temple and stones are authentic, the placement of the stones inside the temple was a municipal decision, which has led to the site´s as yet unproven presentation as a fertility temple where virgins sat atop large stone phalluses.
In the City of Puno
For a nice overview of Puno and the clear flat waters of Lake Titicaca, take a moment to stop at Huajsapata Lookout. If you’re feeling ambitious, Kuntur Wasi, also known as Condor Hill, lookout is even better, although it’s a climb of more than 600 steps. Once you hit the Plaza, there are three sights right next to each other which are all worth a visit. One is the 18th century mestizo-baroque Cathedral houses the venerated image of the Lord of the Quinary, known as Lord of the Bullet ever since it was shot in a clash between the Biscayans and Andalusians. Another is the Carlos Dreyer Museum, which houses exhibits of gold, silver, pottery, woven textiles, Pre-Inca stone sculptures from around the country, indigenous handicrafts and colonial paintings. There’s even an exhibit showcasing mummies and gold recovered from the Sillustani Burial Towers. Lastly, you might be interested in stopping by the 17th century Corregidor´s House. This historical monument is one of Puno´s oldest residences, now housing an art gallery with permanent and changing exhibits, library with reading room and research service, and a café-bar frequented by artists and expats; it hosts workshops and concerts as well.
Remember: Pirwa Hostels is a Full-Service company, so if you need assistance with transport, or are interested in arranging guided tours or packages, don’t hesitate to contact our agency department, Pirwa Travel Service, for information or services regarding any aspect of your trip!
- The nearest airport is 28 miles north of Puno, in the city of Juliaca. Bus travel is popular for visitors to Puno, with buses by reputable companies such as Cruz del Sur and Ormeño arriving throughout the day from Cusco, Arequipa, and other cities.
- If you are not accustomed to high altitudes, you may experience nausea and fatigue, so it’s a good idea not to plan too much activity for the first day, to rest and to hydrate well, perhaps with the locally preferred remedy for altitude sickness: coca tea. If you need something stronger, stop by a pharmacy and ask for soroche pills, and if things feel quite bad, you can even pick up a personal mini-oxygen tank.
- Dress for the cold and dry weather of the high Andean plateau, or altiplano, where Puno is located. Temperatures average about 45 degrees, with 30 degree lows in the wintertime (June-August) and 60 degree highs in the summertime (Dec – Jan).
- Despite the cold weather, the sun is still a concern due to the high altitude, so don’t forget the sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat.
Pirwa Puno is pumped for this year’s Virgen of Candelaria Festival!
This festival in honor of Puno’s patron saint is one of the year’s most spectacular festivals of Peru and South America. Considered the folkloric capital of the country, Puno offers a vibrant display of costume, music, and dance in honor of the Mamacha Carmen. Folkloric dance competitions and parades create a spectacle involving more than 40,000 dancers and 5,000 dancers as well as tens of thousands of more indirectly involved embroiderers, boot makers, sponsors, and others.
Dancing Through History
Puno has almost 300 different classified dances with distinct music, dress, and choreography and charged with symbolism and significance. Different neighborhoods of the city and communities of the countryside train well in advance to represent their area and dances, investing heavily in elaborate folkloric costumes that pertain to each dance. To watch them perform is as if you were watching the millennial history of Puno dance past you.
Dances like the Phusa Morenos or Siku Morenos emerged from the black slave community of Puno after the conquest. They are danced in costumes of the devil, angel and Afro-Peruvian. These dances led to the famous Morenada (Black Dance) and Diablada (Devil’s Dance). Other dances, like the happy mestizo dance known as the Pandilla Puneña date back to the post-colonial Republican era. With the women clad in braids, bowler hats, many-petticoated skirts, shawls, and little boots they represent the typical Andean women.
Its pre-Columbian dances of Aymara and Quechua roots include the Los Maris or Cahuiris, in honor of the gods of lightning and thunder of the same name, the Llullmitha with its long dragging dresses and representation of the sown fields, the alternating male and female circles of the Markheta, and the Inca Huallatha. Ancient dances like the Llamerada and Llameritos were some of the oldest, danced by the shepherds and llama drivers of the Andean altiplano.
Programmed Events of Virgen of Candelaria 2012
Jan 26th the Queen of Folklore will be elected and crowned. On Feb 1st the actual statue of the Virgen of Candelaria will be transferred in procession from the San Juan Bautista Sanctuary where it normally resides to Puno’s Cathedral. The procession in honor of the Mamacha Carmen is on February 2nd, when the dancers from the countryside descend upon Puno with their instruments and vibrant costumes (studded with gems for the Morenada, with feather caps, or as Condors and Llamas.
The Indigenous Dance Contest, with dances performed in native and typical dress, will be on Feb 5th at 7:00am at the Enrique Torres Belón Stadium. Afterwards, they will take to the streets and continue dancing in parade. The “Urban Festival” on the Octava showcases Colonial and Republican Era (‘Mestizo’) dances, mostly performed in bullfighters’ dress. This is when the barrios of Puno present their own troupes. The competition will take place on Feb 12th at 7:00am in the Enrique Torres Belón Stadium. On the following day the dancers all participate in the Folkloric Parade to the Virgen of Candelaria. After dancing before the Virgen they will continue on to the cemetery. Feb 14th is the concert of the musical bands, and Feb 15th is the Parade of the Sicuris and Zampoñas. The festival finishes with separate parties and dances of the groups in their respective neighborhoods on February 16th through 18th, although prizes will not be awarded until March 25th.
Remember that for this festival PUNO FILLS UP FAST! Try and make your plans as far in advance as possible to make sure to get the most of your trip. Pirwa Travel Service can help with transport, excursions and tours (after all, you can’t go to Puno without visiting the world’s highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca, and its famous Floating Islands of Uros!), and Pirwa Puno Backpackers can provide comfy and cheap lodging within walking distance of the main square and the harbor.