Puno is an enchanting city that overlooks Lake Titicaca and will surely be a highlight of your trip to Peru. There’s plenty to see and do from the Uros Floating Islands to the ancient Sillustani Cemetery. Puno is also called The Folkloric Capital of Peru. The popular Festival “Virgen de la Candelaria” takes place in Puno every year in February and attracts many visitors from all over the world as well as travelers in Peru and Bolivia.
As the gateway to the highest navigable lake in the world, Puno receives quite a lot of tourism as people head off on their small boats to explore the hidden island gems that float on this gigantic stretch of water but more recently Puno has made the international news for their particularly strong stance against the current Peruvian president and the political situation has been somewhat unpredictable, as it has in other regions of Peru. Read on for more in-depth information about the city of Puno and Lake Titicaca and what that means for travelers to Peru at this time.
Peru first announced a month-long, nationwide state of emergency in mid-December, shortly after demonstrations broke out over the ousting of former leftist President Pedro Castillo, who had attempted to dissolve Congress illegally, resulting in his arrest after this attempted political coup d etat.
More than 40 people have died in violent clashes between protesters and security forces since early December. The extended emergency measures signed by President Dina Boluarte, grant police special powers and limit freedoms including the right to protest apply to Lima and the southern regions of Puno and Cusco. In Puno, where nearly half of the victims have died, the restrictions included a 10-day curfew.
Peru has seen many political ups and downs over the years, and while right now may not be the best time to travel to Peru, speaking very generally, the current panorama is peaceful countrywide and there have not been any protests for a few months now. Booking your trip for later this year or for 2024 should not pose any problems for you. Whilst there are some angry people still out there, the general feeling amongst people in the cities is that they just want things to go back to normal. The protests are far more disruptive to the average Peruvian than travelers. Combine this with the collective loss of income to the local people, especially in Puno and the protests are receiving less and less sympathy from the general population of Peru.
Puno was where the ex-president Castillo had most of his support base and therefore the protests in this region were more prolonged and the most violent during stages of the demonstrations. Protests and demonstrations continued to affect the Puno region for longer than other regions, including Puno City and the areas surrounding Lake Titicaca. At times, these gatherings became violent. Poverty in Puno has shot up to 80% as road blockades and strikes affect local income such as mining and tourism. Lake Titicaca has seen no visitors for the past several months, but the good news is that now things are back to normal, and little by little, Puno is receiving tourists once more, who want to visit the highest navigable lake in the world. There are no blocks in place and the border between Bolivia and Peru is open as normal.
The Peru Rail Titicaca Train that connects Cusco and Puno has also resumed service. This train ride through the high Andes lasts approximately 10.5 hours. While no stops are made, the service and amenities on board are opulent and the spectacular views over the altiplano are simply breathtaking. This is why this train is considered one of the best in the world.
We recommend that you travel with a reputable agency such as Valencia Travel which keeps up to date with any changes that occur throughout Peru, and will change routes or travel plans to avoid any violent protests, should they occur. We are confident that at the moment there will not be further protests, especially in the Puno region, as people are desperate to get to normal and welcome visitors to this remarkable part of Peru, once more. We also suggest a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you for any unwanted delays due to unannounced protests, although unlikely, that could occur during your visit to Peru.