The Catedral on Puno’s main square, crafted with carved volcanic stone, is a fine example of the skill and imagination of “puneño” masons. Nearby the Municipal Museum has an extensive collection of priceless pre-Inca pottery, textiles and artifacts fashioned from gold and silver from the Tiahuanaco culture.
is located 21 miles (34km) north of Puno. The ruins were left by the Collas Aymaras, a pre-Inca culture that buried its high priests in round, stone funerary towers called Chullpas that can be found in various places in the Puno area. But the most impressive are the Chullpas of Sillustani, the tallest of which reaches a height of about 43 feet (13m) on a hilltop overlooking the Lake Umayo peninsula.
Lake Titicaca National Reserve
is split into two separate sectors: the first, encompassing the Bay of Puno, protects the totora reed clumps that provide sustenance to the Uros-Chulluni communities; the second, which is located in the Huancané area, features the less-visited totora marshes. In this area there are 60 bird species, including the Titicaca grebe, 14 native fish species and 18 types of amphibians, including the giant Titicaca toad.
The Floating Islands of Uros
whose inhabitants descend from one of the oldest known tribes in the Americas, began their floating existence centuries ago in an attempt to isolate themselves from incursions by the Colla and Inca civilizations. They built their islands from the totora reeds that grow abundantly in the shallows of Titicaca. The springy reed ground underfoot is constantly replenished because of the natural process of decay that takes place below the waterline.
The Island of Taquile
22 miles (35km) to the east of Puno, is the largest of the islands found in the lake at 2.4 square miles (6km2) and has an interesting variety of microclimates. The town of Taquile, 13,000 feet above sea level, (3,950m.a.s.l.) has both Tiahuanaco and Inca ruins. It boasts beautiful scenery highlighted by the intense blue waters of the lake and Bolivia´s snowcapped Cordillera Real Mountains in the distance.
The Island of Amantaní
located a few miles north of Taquile, offers a beautiful, tranquil setting of quaint villages and sprawling hillsides, several topped by Tiahuanaco ruins. The best known of these are Pachamama and Pachatata (or Mother and Father earth).