Posts Tagged ‘Puno’
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!
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.
Pucará´s Throat Slasher Ceremony
Despite the fascinating nature of the spectacle, it´s hard to find information online about Pucará´s Jatun Ñakaq Festival, otherwise known as the Throat-Slasher Festival or El Gran Degollador (The Great Decapitator). But if you´re in Puno between the 16th and 18th of June, maybe you´ll be lucky enough to witness it firsthand!
Much as the Inti Raymi festival is based around a theatrical ritual reenactment of ancient rites, locals in Pucará present an extraordinary scene as they reenact an ancient rite in a theatrical production involving hundreds of young actors directed by Ñaupa Riqchari (Let the Past Awake) Cultural Group. It takes place at the Kalasaya Ceremonial Center and Archeological Site in the Pucará District of Lampa Province in Puno.
You´ll notice that the pyramid site is decorated with carved stone trophy head borders- human sacrifices occurred in the ceremonial patio as offerings to the supreme god of the Pucará Civilization, the Decapitator. Long before the reign of the Inca, human sacrifices had a great value in society, although they were only resorted to in severe cases like drought. Today, locals congregate from Puno´s Quechua-speaking zone to enjoy the 4 hour theatrical show, which reaches its apex with a simulted human sacrifice.
Afterwards, all the blood cleaned up, there´ll be general partying and native dances will be on display. One of the most well-known is the beautiful Puli Puli, whose large smooth steps and leaps represent the stages of Quinua cultivation from sowing through flowering to harvest. Another typical dance is the Ayarachi (Soul Which Cries), a dance rising from the violent transitional period of the Spanish Conquest, when the Imperial City of Cusco tragically fell to Pizarro´s troops.
What To Bring Home
You´ll see them on rooftops all over the Andean High Plateau: the Pucará Bulls described by Puno writer Enrique Cuentas Ormachea as “an expression of baroque art and, at the same time, a manifestation of the magical religious spirit of the Qolla peasant.” An estimated 80% of locals are potters in addition to subsistence farmers, and the bulls are the most prized ceramics from Puno.
I couldn´t pick just one….and so we end with a herd of bulls….
Originally a ritual flask filled with chicha and cattle blood and drunk by the head priest during the cattle-branding ceremony, you´ll find guardian bulls adorning rooftops and providing luck for their residents.
After Pucará: Exploring the Rest of Puno
The Plan: Walk along the Ecotouristic Inca Seafront Bay (Malecón Ecoturístico Bahía de los Incas), a pedestrian path showcasing views of Lake Titicaca and pre-Inca solar clocks, or hitching posts of the sun known as sukankas or intihuatanas. Once at the harbor, stop into the Yaraví Ship Naval Museum, located inside the oldest single-propeller iron ship in the world, built in Britain, crossed the Andes in pieces on mule-back and then reassembled again in the Lake. When you´re ready to hit the waters of the lake itself, board a motorboat and stop by the traditional Quechua-speaking Islands of Amantani and Taquile, whose colorful weavings are considered the best in Peru and were proclaimed by UNESCO as “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” and the Floating Islands of Uros, whose Aymara-speaking Uros tribe (known as kot-suña, people of the lake) depend on the lake´s tortora reeds for housing, sustenance, and transport in addition to using them to build and maintain the islands themselves.
Just a 15 minute walk away from Lake Titicaca Harbor you´ll find Pirwa Hostel in Puno, managed by husband and wife team Jenny and Carlos. It´s also located only a couple blocks from the city center. For the same low prices available at Pirwa Hostels and B&Bs throughout Peru, you´ll have access to comfortable beds in cheery rooms, 24hr hot water, wifi throughout, reference maps and information as well as an in-house travel desk where you can get detailed answers to your questions and arrange tours or transport. While you´re out exploring Puno you can be sure that your possessions are secure and that someone from reception will be waiting for you- no matter the hour.