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The Puno's colourful winter festival

Peru full of colours

Puno's colourful winter festival, featuring music and processions, is dedicated to the founding of the city but also celebrates the mythical origins of the Inca people of this part of southern Peru.
According to Inca legend, the first Incas - Manco Capac and his wife Coya Mama Oclla Huaco - emerged from the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) in Lake Titicaca, created by the sun's rays. The sun is still worshipped as the life-giving source and natural father to the Incas.

While in Puno, you can take a boat to the floating Uros islands on Lake Titicaca. These artificial islands are made of tortura reeds and thought to have no firm base, hence the term "floating islands". The islanders also use tortura reeds to build their boats, which look flimsy but are perfectly capable of carrying an entire family.

The islands' isolation from the mainland and their self-sufficient lifestyle enabled them to remain relatively free from outside cultural influences. Recently, however, tourism has brought closer connections with the outside world and many Uros have married into the surrounding Aymara communities, while the islands have come to depend on the tourist trade.

It's also possible to stay with local families on the nearby (non-floating) island of Taquile in the islanders' own community-run tourism scheme. Whatever you do, the beauty and dramatic light of Lake Titicaca, as well as the altitude (at 3,800m it's the world's highest lake) will take your breath away.

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