Puno and the islands

On the northwest shore of Lake Titicaca, at 3855 m, Puno is a major folklore centre and a great place to buy handicrafts, particularly those amazingly tactile alpaca jumpers and hats. It also has a rich tradition of music and dance and is a good place to enjoy a number of Andean festivals, some wild, some solemn. Puno is capital of its department and, while it isn't the most attractive of cities, it has a certain vitality, helped by the fact there is a large student population.

Getting there

The railway station for trains from Cuzco is quite central and within walking distance of the centre, but if you've got heavy bags, it's a good idea to hire a three-wheel cycle cart,
. The train halts for guests at the hotels
. The bus station and the depots for local buses are further away, southeast of the centre, but
and conventional taxis serve this area.

Getting around

The centre of town is easy to walk around, but as said above, a
can make life a lot easier, even if this is not your first stop at high altitude

Best time to visit

Being so high up, Puno gets bitterly cold at night, generally not below -5°C, but in June-August the temperature at night can plummet to -25°C. Days are bright and the midday sun is hot, but you can never be quite sure what weather is going to come off the lake. The first two weeks in February, when the Fiesta de la Candelaria takes place, and 4-5 November, the pageant of the emergence of the founding Incas, are good times to visit, but crowded, too.

Tourist information

 are friendly, speak English and helpful with general information and they provide all maps and information free. The
has limited services for tourist. Puno is gaining a reputation for scams; keep your wits about you and don't be fooled by changes to prices or menu items in restaurants, by claims that entry tickets have expired or that your return boat ticket is in fact a single. Note also that some hotels are full of dubious street tour sellers. Others are linked to tour operators that may or may not belong to them, so are not above pressurized tour selling .

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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