Visit Puno during the Candelaria Festival in February that honors the patron saint, the Virgin of Candelaria. Explore Lake Titicaca, a geographic landmark at the crossroads of the Andes and the Andean plateau and the world's highest navigable and South America's largest lake. Overnight on Amantani Island for homestay for cultural experience. Spend a full day in Puno witnessing this folkloric festival with its traditional dances, costumes, music, and story-telling.
A morning flight from Lima (or a bus from Cusco to Puno) takes us to the shores of mystical Lake Titicaca. Legend has it that the first Inca rose out of its azure waters. Transfer to your hotel and then explore the town in the afternoon.
Depart this morning with your guide to the floating islands of the Uros people. Peru's floating islands are built using the buoyant totora reeds that grow along Lake Titicaca, and these reeds are interwoven to make homes, boats, and crafts.
We continue to Amantani Island, a quiet island known for its hilltop ruins that honor Pachamama and Pachatata (Mother and Father Earth). Here we meet our host families whose generosity is apparent with their open arms (and open doors to their homes) and smiles. Explore this island with your guide and then settle in to share a short day in the lives of the Aymara.
After breakfast and bidding farewell to your host family, travel to Taquile Island. Climb the steps to the plaza at the center of the island for breathtaking views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
In the afternoon, return to Puno and relax this evening on the shores of Lake Titicaca.
The exact origins of the Candelaria festival are debated, but its significance and vibrance continues with dance and music groups from Peru and Bolivia converging on Puno, a melting pot of native culture: the two largest Andean ethnic groups --the Quechuas from the north, the Aymaras from the south. The festivity is related to the traditional farming cycles of planting and harvesting (worshipping Pachamama or Mother Earth), as well as with the region’s mining activities.
We spend a full day watching the parades that focus on storytelling in the form of costumes, masks, and music. Your guide is there to help explain the sights and sounds and to translate, and you will have great seats along the procession route that the dancers follow to pay their respect to the Virgin. The devils dance is one of the main themes and is based on a story of a group of miners who when trapped in a cave, saw images of the Virgin of Candelaria.
Day 5: Return to Lima (or Cusco)
Catch a flight to Lima today. For travelers choosing this Lake Titicaca extension prior to your visit to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu PIcchu, transfer by bus to Cusco.
Kate was great to work with in the planning stage. She was prompt, helpful, and efficient. Our tour guide, Edwin, was knowledgeable and passionate. We were very happy to have traveled with Adventure Life, it made the trip easy and a true pleasure. We could concentrate on enjoying the experience rather than the details of travel.