Puno is the main town and access point to Lake Titicaca, and most visitors will arrive and leave from here unless continuing on to Bolivia. Perched at 3,860 metres above sea level, this is Peru’s altiplato, an unforgiving highland plateau that is more suited to the alpacas and vicunas than humans. Whilst Puno is not the prettiest of towns, it has a lively folkloric centre with festivals, costumes and handicrafts markets.
The significance of the lake in Incan folklore is unquestionable. It is said that the sun’s first two children, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo emerged from Titicaca to be the first pair in the illustrious Incan dynasty. The two main islands of Uros and Taquile can be visited by boat from Puno, where the indigenous people live a traditional lifestyle that could not be further removed - in every sense – from ours. Here they fish, hunt and live off lake plants, and usually when you arrive on the islands the men will be fishing whilst the women sell handicrafts in their colourful traditional costumes. Amantani is another island that has huge appeal, further out from Puno, it is much more peaceful than the more popular islands with temples, festivals and even a throne carved out of stone!
It's worth considering an extension to the Bolivian side of the lake, where the hilly protected island of Isla del Sol affords tremendous views of the glistening waters and snow-capped mountains from its well-marked nature trails.