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Introduction to Puno & Lake Titicaca
Puno is one of Peru's foremost tourist destinations and one of the most interesting spots on the continent. Few cities lie by the shores of such a extraordinary body of water as Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable lake.
Legend has it that from the waters of Lake Titicaca emerged Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo, the mythical founders of the Inca empire. The area also gave rise to one of the greatest pre-Inca civilizations, that of Tiahuanaco, the maximum expression of the ancient Aymara people.
The Spaniards founded the city of Puno in 1668. It is a city rich in local mestizo art, the fusion of native and Spanish styles in its colonial balconies, weavings and pottery. However, a greater attraction lies a bare 10 blocks from the main square: Lake Titicaca, which covers an area of 8,560 square kilometers and which local fishermen row across on rafts made from totora, a type of reed that grows along the shore. There are also motorboats for hire for visitors.
The lake is also dotted with dozens of islands, each of them with their own characteristics and peculiarities. The floating islands of the Uros, whose inhabitants descend from one of the oldest known tribes in the Americas, feature typical native huts made from reeds. The inhabitants of Taquile island, meanwhile, still use traditional weaving techniques that tourists can learn if they decide to stay the night there and accept the traditional hospitality of the locals. In other cities around the department like Pucará, stand out for their superb pottery, while visitors can explore the chullpa stone burial towers at Sillustani, built by the Tiahuanaco culture. The area is also famous for its traditional festivals such as the Virgen de la Candelaria and dances like the Diablada, celebrated in February, an ideal time to visit the area. An unforgettable experience.
Lake Titicaca National Reserve
Located in the department of Puno, with a surface area of 36,180 hectares, the national reserve in practically its entirety covers the world's highest navigable lake.
The Titicaca Reserve is split into two separate sectors: the first, which lies in the Bay of Puno itself, protects the totora reed clumps which provide sustenance to the Uros-Chulluni communities; the second, which is located in the Huancané area, features less-visited totora marshes, but which are equally rich in species and just as interesting. In the area there are 60 bird species, including the Titicaca grebe, 14 native fish species and 18 types of amphibians, including the giant Titicaca toad.
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