see + do
Concierge.com's insider take:
At 12,500 feet above sea level, this natural border between Peru and Bolivia is the fabled birthplace of the Incas, and the world's highest-altitude commercially navigable lake. The 40-odd floating islands on the Peruvian side were established centuries ago by the Inca-fleeing Uros, whose descendants still populate (at least part-time) this ever-shifting reed flotilla. Whether you're staying at the Libertador Puno or one of the other hotels in town, the staff can arrange a trip to the islands—and to the traditional textile-producing terra firma islands of Taquile and Amantani—or direct you to an agency that can. The Islas del Sol and de la Luna, which you'll find on the Bolivian side of the lake, have Inca ruins and agricultural terraces that warrant the long day trip from Puno (or an overnight). As for Puno itself, the greatest show in town—and the apex of the local religious/folkloric calendar—is the Festividad Virgen Maria de la Candelaria (or simply Candelaria, as this festival at the beginning of February is commonly known). An ode to the region's most venerated image of Mary, in the form of solemn processions and wild, colorful dance competitions, this two-week extravaganza draws celebrants and observers from all over the country and the world. If you want to attend, check out the annual schedule at Punofolklore.com or Punomagico.com, and book as early as possible.—Updated by Abbie Kozolchyk
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