Puno Introduction, History, Info, & Tips


Puno is the capital and largest city of the Puno Region and Province in Southeastern Peru.

It is located at the edge of Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest commercially navigable lake, at 3,860 m (12,421 ft) above sea level, on the Peruvian Altiplano.

Puno is an important agricultural and livestock region of Peru; particularly of South American camelids (llamas and alpacas) which graze on its immense plateaus and plains.


Like most of northern Peru, the territory of Puno’s importance to the vast Inca empire was reflected in a legendary connection.

Inca tradition has it that Manco Capac, the first Inca, rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca, under the orders of the Sun God, to start the Inca Empire, which would be centered in the neighboring region and city of Cuzco.

In 1668, viceroy Conde de Lemos established San Juan Bautista de Puno as the capital of the province of Paucarcolla. Later, it was called San Carlos de Puno, in honor of the ruling king, Charles II of Spain.

From that moment, the town began to change physically, as the Spanish priests, in their eagerness to evangelize the natives, built the churches which still stand today.

Culture & Folklore

Puno has been named the “Capital folklórica del Perú” (folkloric capital of Peru) from the wealth of its artistic and cultural expressions, particularly dance.

They are most notable during the celebrations of the Feast of the “Virgen de la Candelaria” and the Regional Competition of Autochthonous Dances.

Tip: Taking Photos

If you enjoy documenting your experiences with photography, a phenomena you are sure to encounter in Puno is that MOST locals seem to hate getting their pictures taken. Unless you’ve got a long lens, catching a natural shot of a local is a challenge.

At first, you may chalk this up to thinking the people are just camera shy, but it’s actually much more than that…

Once you learn about the local culture, religions, and superstitions, you will discover that most locals believe that your camera sort of “sucks out their soul” when you capture their image. They are quite adamant about avoiding looking into your lens. We recommend you be understanding of this idea and respectful to the people- and don’t push them…

So what’s the best way to get a great shot of a local “being natural” ? Smiling helps, and paying money is always a good strategy…