Since I’m now focusing on writing about Peru, visiting Puno and Lake Titicaca is definitely must do. I thought I would write two separate posts about these two attractions, but in the end, I don’t think it is necessary. Puno lies along Lake Titicaca and it is very close to the border with Bolivia. Lake Titicaca is the highest located lake with an altitude of 3800m. So make sure you are already acclimatized to these hights, otherwise, you might get sick. But for those who are ready, let’s begin.
Visiting Puno and Lake Titicaca
Puno is a small town close to the border with Bolivia. Actually, it is quite normal to take a day trip or two day trip from Puno to Copacabana on the Bolivian border. Be prepared for cold as this town has quite a high altitude, so it will get cold overnight. And from my experience, make sure that your hotel has a heater or at least some massive blanket.
What to do when visiting Puno (and Lake Titicaca)?
Well, the obvious answer would be to take a tour on the late since it is the main attraction here. But there are a couple of places I would like to mention before we get to that. Puno has is a charming little town with beautiful colonial square called Plaza de Armas – basically like every town in Peru. Somehow the name doesn’t change.
On that particular square, I found a great basilica in a very colonial style. It is allowed to go in some specific hours. But that is mostly it for Puno. If you like colonial buildings, walk in the city center, there are still a lot of them. Some of the buildings are quite visibly destroyed from wars. So it is like history is breathing on you.
View and accommodation
I normally don’t write about the places where I’m accommodated, most of the time they are nothing special or they are very cheap with cockroaches on the floor. All of this is kind of fine by me, I’m coming to sleep in that place, not to live there. But this time Booking told me that I have to find another accommodation than I booked for the first time and offered me this hotel on the hill.
Don’t get me wrong, it is not easy to get there, but it is definitely worth it. I was probably the only person in that hotel because it was quite new. The receptionist talked to me through google translator and they had to get me a special heater because it was very cold there. But god the view. During the stay, I got to see the whole Puno and the mini-part of the massive Lake Titicaca. And I would definitely go there again.
If you choose to stay at another place, the best view you can get is at the docks, where you can watch the sunset over the lake.
When I heard that Lake Titicaca is quite small compared to other lakes, I was very surprised by the size. It is still massive, so don’t expect to go around it in one day as I did. The special thing about this is, that there are people living on the lake. These Quechua people are still building their own reef islands and living on them. For visiting them, you can get a tour or it is completely normal to book Airbnb in the reef islands. Tours are usually just for a couple of hours, but living there can be a lot longer, just count that it will be cold during the night.
Visiting Lake Titicaca from Puno with a tour
The great thing about visiting Puno is how easy it is to get to Lake Titicaca. Every hotel will probably offer you several tours to the reef villages. For example, my hotel offered me two versions, one which was from early morning, and I would get to visit two villages. And other that I took in the end because I really needed to get some sleep.
Anyway, my tour started at 9, where we get a boat in docks in Puno and head to the village we were supposed to visit. The guide was great, he knew that I don’t speak Spanish at all and so he spoke both languages, just so even three tourists would understand. During that time, we even got enough time to take pictures from the upper floor of the boat.
The village visit itself was very touristic. And by that, I mean that we get all the information about how it is to build a reef island, and how people here are living in general. But after that came the commercial part, where our Quechua villagers tried to make us buy overpriced souvenirs from them.
Practical things for visiting Puno and Lake Titicaca
You can get to Puno with a lot of bus companies. I got there with Cruz del Sur from Arequipa. If you thinking about the airplane, the closest airport in Juliaca and you will need a bus from there anyway.
Tours are always available so there is no need to order anything in advance, just say that to your receptionist upon arrival.
Take warm clothes. That applies to both Puno and Lake Titicaca. But especially Lake Titicaca is it is really cold during the night.
Book your hotel well ahead as there are a lot of tourist coming to these places. Even if just for one night. And one day in Puno and Lake Titicaca is probably enough, after that, there are buses to Cuzco.
I would definitely go for visiting Puno and Lake Titicaca again. I really like that place. But there are a couple of things that I would do differently. First of all, you don’t need to buy souvenirs on Lake Titicaca, just buy them elsewhere, they will be a lot cheaper. And the second one, once they will bring you to the restaurant, don’t drink anything, just take something with you, it is a lot cheaper that way, besides the things that they have there are not that special so there is no need to pay a special price. But definitely book the hotel with a view. Sunsets there were unforgettable.