29 de março de 2015

Puno, a journey of discovery

It has been a while since the last time I had a chance to travel to the country side of Peru. Peru is composed of three remarkably different regions. One of them is the coast, where the capital, Lima, is located, the second one we call it the mountains – surprisingly, there are some little towns that are located over 5000 meters over sea level – the third one is the jungle, which has typical tropical weather. The city which I will be writing about is Puno, which I visited some few weeks ago; Puno is located in the mountains.

Before traveling to Puno, I had heard so many stories about it. You may be thinking things like the beauty of the place. Certainly not, the stories were about the 'cold' weather. Although February is placed during the summer months in South America, in the mountains it is rainy season. For some people it is an annoyance to travel to the mountains during the raining season because of the humidity. So when the plane landed, instead of the expected 'cold' weather, it was a nice sunny day!

If you plan to travel from Lima to Puno by plane you will have to arrive to Juliaca first. Juliaca is not the main city in Puno (region), but Puno (county) is a 40 minutes drive from Juliaca. There are some shuttles that can take you to Puno. It is even possible that you can book a hotel through internet, so you can head directly to your hotel after you arrive to Puno.

The city of Puno is very beautiful, and compared to other city in the mountains such as Cusco, Arequipa, Huaraz, or Ayacucho, it is more quiet. Maybe because of being 3800 meters over the sea level, during the nights you can feel a chilly wind. Inspite of the weather,  you will definitely always find some people having drinks at the local bars.

In general, Peru is very religious country, but Puno is a very emblematic place for religion. In February there is a big celebration due to the Candelaria Virgin, who is the saint of the region; one amazing thing is that you can visit the churches where the symbolic image of the Virgin is located. These are two churches that I went to at Puno. The first one is where the Virgin is kept through the year until the celebration and the second one is located in the main square.

This is the Candelaria Virgin.

This where the Candelaria Virgin is kept throughout the year. 

This is the church located at the main square.

But besides the religious festivals the main attraction of Puno is Lake Titicaca. The lake is divided between two countries: Peru and Bolivia. But Peru has the biggest part of the lake; as you may be thinking Peruvian people say that the view of the lake is more beautiful from the Peruvian side rather than the view from Bolivia. Unfortunately, I cannot speak for myself since I could not make it to Bolivia.

When you are in Puno you can book some tours around the islands in the lake. One of the most important ones is the island of Taquile, but before arriving to it you may take a stop at the floating islands of Uros. And by fortune of all the travelers you will always have a good sunny day for the visit. Inside one of the floating islands of Uros you will meet with the local people. People who actually live in the floating islands and survive from the hunting of the zone animals and the exchange of good in the shore of the lake. But what I found amazing is the work they do with the textiles.

          One of the floating islands.

After spending some time at the Uros islands (~ 1h), you may depart to the Taquile Island. As the boat starts into the direction of the island you can see how it grows bigger as you approach it; fortunately, I could take some pictures of the surrounding of the island while I was still inside the boat. I could not wait more for the arrival to the top of the island! Yes! You have to go through a trail and trek like around 200 meters because at the very top is where the main square is located. When you are finally there you can appreciate the beauty of the Lake and the Island. For a moment I thought I was transported to another place on earth because there are no more traces of the land but only the blue water and rays of the sun.

 View from the top of Taquile.

 Another view from the top of Taquile.

Arriving to Taquile.

I planned to stay around 4 days at Puno, which can be a little too long if you do not have a good imagination on where to go next. In the very morning when you get out of your hotel you can ask a taxi driver to take you to the bus stop to take you to different small cities of the Puno region. The next one in our target was Chucuito. It is a very charming and small town where you can still appreciate the architecture from many years ago, and I mean when the Spanish came around the 17th century. You can have some lunch at the local restaurants as well.

View from the lake side at Chucuito.

It has been three weeks since I returned from Puno, and if I would not see the pictures again I would have forgotten how beautiful the landscape is everywhere you put your eye on. You must not forget to bring your camera to capture a piece of the past with you. Our next destination was Sillustani; you can book for a tour for this one. Sillustani is now known as the graveyard of our ancestor; the people from the Inca Empire. Once you arrive there you will have the chance to visit the tombs that were built for some royalty of the Empire, and I would like to highlight royalty because not all the people had the chance to be buried in these types of constructions. But in my own opinion, the best reward come at the end of the tour. The graveyard is surrounded by a small lake. In the middle of the lake there is a small island with a plateau form – it could only be where the gods were sitting, as I have never seen such a flat surface – surrounded by other small mountains. The clouds enhanced the view, as they acted as a filter for the rays of the sun. It was just a mystic place to be.

Half-way constructed tomb.

The plateau.

Last but not least is the regular tourism at Puno. So, many of the packages you can buy for tourism normally leads you to very common places, the places that everybody knows. Although I know that it is fun to talk about the well know places,  what about visiting one place that is out of the regular touristic route? So on the last day we lead ourselves to the south of Puno, on the highway to the frontier between Bolivia and Peru. Our next stop was Juli, like 40 minutes from than Chuquito. Actually, I really enjoyed Juli more than Chuquito because I could see more people around the main square and also Juli itself has three churches. Two of them are art museums now, the third is nearly abandoned. And our final destination was Pomata, another 25 minutes from Juli; a really nice thing was that it started to rain while we were in the bus, but when we arrived the sky was clear again. Bright sun up in the sky. ‘Philosophical balcony of the Andes’ is the nickname of Pomata, and you may be wondering how did I  know it? Well it was painted in many walls =). It was in this very small town where you can appreciate what is like to be in Puno. Not the noise of the town or being surrounded by many people. Living in the Andes it is quiet, not like Cusco or other cities alike. It was that quiet that you did not even hear the noise of a car! It is just you and the landscape.

Juli from the top of a hill. 

Just right back from Juli, the mountains. 

The mainsquare at Juli. 

Like side at Pomata. 

‘Philosophical balcony of the Andes’

Um comentário:

  1. Very nice descriptions and pictures.........sempre tive vontade de conhecer Peru, agora ainda mais uma razao, Puno. Obrigado

    Andre Coelho