On the northwest shore of Lake Titicaca, at 3855 m, Puno is a major folklore centre and a great place to buy handicrafts, particularly those amazingly tactile alpaca jumpers and hats. It also has a rich tradition of music and dance and is a good place to enjoy a number of Andean festivals, some wild, some solemn. Puno is capital of its department and, while it isn’t the most attractive of cities, it has a certain vitality, helped by the fact there is a large student population.
Being so high up, Puno gets bitterly cold at night, generally not below -5°C, but in June-August the temperature at night can plummet to -25°C. Days are bright and the midday sun is hot, but you can never be quite sure what weather is going to come off the lake. The first two weeks in February, when the Fiesta de la Candelaria takes place, and 4-5 November, the pageant of the emergence of the founding Incas, are good times to visit, but crowded, too.
The railway station for trains from Cuzco is quite central and within walking distance of the centre, but if youve got heavy bags, its a good idea to hire a three-wheel cycle cart, trici-taxi, which costs about US$0.35 per km per person. The train halts for guests at the hotels Libertador and Sonesta. The bus station and the depots for local buses are further away, southeast of the centre, but trici-taxis and conventional taxis serve this area.