You really need a few days to properly explore Puno / Lake Titicaca’s islands. The influences of tourism have already started to impact the many island communities. When you visit the islands, do your best as a responsible traveler to act respectfully throughout your stay. There are a number of ways to act conscientiously; such as, bringing your host family fresh fruits and veggies and ensuring that you you go with a reputable tour agency that have ties to the local community.
Tip: You get what you pay for, in Puno, so make sure to shop around for travel agencies as a few of the cheaper tour agencies have reputations for ripping off islanders. So ask where your money will be distributed. Also beware of street touts hanging outside gringo hotels. never give anyone money until you are inside a travel agency.
Agencies in Puno/Lake Titicaca:
While none of the agencies are top notch, the ones listed below have a semi responsible attitude towards islanders.
Edgar Adventures (35 3444, Lima 328)
- this agency tends to get very positive traveler reviews
All Ways Travels (35 3979, Deustua 576)
Islas Tours (952 1093, Ollanta Inn, Ilo E-1)
- family run agency running typical island tours
- Just 5 km from Puno’s harbor, these floating islands, inhabited by the Uros people, is one of Lake Titicaca’s top tourist attractions. However, be weary of the island’s authentic lifestyle as a visit to this island seems more like you are watching the locals put on a show as opposed to watching their way of life.
- Getting there: head to the dock in Puno and within minutes someone will ask you in you want to take a trip to the islands. Tour boats leave from 7 am until late afternoon. You can either go with a group ($3) or a private boat ($20- 25).
- Tip: make sure you pay for your trip at the official ticket booth to the captain directly when hiring a private boat.
- This tiny 7 sq km island, 35 km from Puno is distinct from the surrounding islands communities because it maintains a strong sense of identity.
- 500 steps leads from the dock to the centre of the island and with the high altitude and your pack on your, this walk can be relatively difficult.
- While electricity is available, most hostels do not utilize it, so make sure you bring a flashlight
- Ensure you take in a beautiful sunset and explore the ruins
- If you truly want to appreciate the island, I recommend sleeping overnight as tours tend to inundate the island from noon to 2 pm
- Getting there: passenger boats leave between 7:30 am and 8:30 am ($6) and take about 3 hours.
- Tip: Tour agencies in Puno offer this tour for with a guide ($9) or with an overnight stay ($15)
- This car and road free island is one of the quieter islands in Lake Titicaca. Almost all trip include an overnight stay. The basket-weaving villagers will often put on traditional dances and let travelers dress up in their traditional partying clothes.
- A bed and full board costs around $3 or
- you can opt for the higher end accommodation at the family run Kantuta Lodge (ask for Seguindino Cari’s family) where a room with full board costs $20.
- Getting there: Boats to Amantani leave Puno between 7:30 and 8:30 ($7) and takes about 3.5 hours
- this 5 acre island can be reached from the mainland village of Cambria
Sleeping: the only hotel on the island Suasi Island Hotel ($110-140 per night) runs on solar power and provides modern services in rustic, thatch houses that fit nicely with the surroundings
- TIP: in order to stay on this island you must book in advance. This can be done through the Puno office ( 051 36 5968, 962 2709; Deustua 576) or through Suasi Island Hotel fixed departures on Wednesdays and Saturday from March to November (extra departure available on Sundays from May- November) and they will even arrange a visit to the Andean town of Lampa. (e-mail at [email protected])
- this beautiful island is in Laguna de Winaymarca sitting near the Bolivian border. If you want to get away from the tourists on the mainland and the commercialization of some of the more popular islands, Anapia is a great option.
- Sleeping: Families will take in travelers, feed and put a roof over their heads ($4)
Bolivian Side of Lake Titicaca
- Isla del Sol y de Luna is the most famous island on Titicaca. The island’s literal translation is Island of the Sun, the birthplace of Manco Capac and his sister- wife Mama Huaca and supposedly the son itself.
- Activities: visit the islands sandy beaches, Inca ruins (including fortress like Pilkokayna) at the Southern end and the Chincana labyrinth complex in the north. Walk from the north to sound end of island to experience stunning vistas and get a chance to see some of the sights and stunning vistas along the way.
- Getting there: full day tour ($4) leaves from Copacabana at around 8:15 am and takes almost 2 hours. You can also do a half day tour ($2) but that doesn’t give you much time to do much more than climb the Inca stairway
Puno is a beautiful place to visit. It is often ignored by travellers making their way either to Arequipa or Cusco but it was one of Peru’s highlights.