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The Southern Andes and Lake Titicaca Travel Guide

  • Photo: Rafal Cichawa / Shutterstock

Plan Your Southern Andes and Lake Titicaca Vacation

Though often overshadowed by Cusco and the Sacred Valley, the south of Peru has some of the most dynamic, jaw-dropping geography and exciting cultural attractions anywhere in the country.

Arequipa is Peru's second-largest city, a Spanish-colonial maze, with volcanic white sillar buildings, well-groomed plazas, and wonderful food, museums, and designer alpaca products. Arequipa is close

to Colca Canyon, where many head to see the famed gorge for its stunning beauty, depth, and Andean condors. Several hours farther out is the very remote Cotahuasi Canyon, the world's deepest gorge.

A rival in magnificence to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca is home to the floating islands. The Uros islands are around 40 man-made islands—constructed from the lake's totora reeds—and are literally floating. The natives are the Quechua and Aymará peoples, who still speak their respective languages and live lives that have changed little in centuries.

Puno, an agricultural city on the shores of Titicaca, is the jumping-off point for exploring the lake, and is Peru's folkloric capital. A dusty-brown city most of the time, Puno is a colorful whirlwind during festivals. The region's many fiestas feature elaborate costumes, storytelling dances, music, and lots of merrymaking. Each November and February Puno puts on two spectacular shows for local holidays.

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Top Reasons To Go

  1. Wild Rivers Fantastic rapids and gorges make Colca Canyon and Cotahuasi Canyon the region's best-known kayaking, rafting, and hiking spots.
  2. Folk Fiestas Whether it's the Virgen del Candelaria festival in Puno, Arequipa's annual anniversary, or Semana Santa in Chivay, Peru's culture is celebrated with more than 300 festive folkloric dances featuring brightly colored costumes.
  3. Wildlife Llamas, vicuñas, and alpacas roam the Reserva Nacional Salinas y Aguada Blanca, giant Andean condors soar above Colca Canyon, and rare bird species nest at Lake Titicaca and in other highland lakes.
  4. Shopping Along with Arequipa's alpaca stores, this region is also a mine of yarn, leather products, guitars, and antiques.
  5. Lake Titicaca The birthplace of the sun is a magical sight, as are the floating Uros islands made of totora reeds.

When To Go

When to Go

In the mountains and high plains the blistering sun keeps you warm from May through early November, but nights get cold. Rainy season is from...

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