Puno and Sillustani

On Saturday, I took a bus from Arequipa to Puno, a journey of six and a half hours and an altitude gain of nearly 1500 metres. The weather was pretty grim for much of the journey, although it did stop raining/snowing for us to see some very pretty pink flamingoes. The temperature on the bus wasn’t warm, which didn’t help the snuffly cold I’d come down with…



I had a day of doing very little on Sunday, to get rid of my cold and adjust to the altitude. My hotel is near the Plaza de Armas (main square) and very close to the main touristy street, which was handy for getting food.

Today I walked down to the lake. The lake shore by the city is slightly smelly, which reminded me of the comments I’d read in my guide book about plans to build a sewage plant. I guess they still haven’t got round to it….

This afternoon I went on a trip to see Sillustani, a burial site dating back to the Colla people, who were the locals before the Incas came along. The Incas then continued to use it for a hundred years or until the arrival of the Spanish. There was a very cute baby alpaca (about a month old) on the way up the the site:


The style here is burial towers. There’s not a huge amount to say, mainly because the themes are ones I’ve come across before – mummies in a foetal position, in traditional clothing and wrapped in fine textiles. Each tower would hold a number of mummies (perhaps all belonging to the same important family). The entrance always faced East, towards the rising Sun / source of life. The funerary chamber was built from rough rocks, then a nice stone outer wall constructed around the outside. Many of the towers at the site had never been finished. One still had the original ramp in place which they used to roll the stones up during construction.













This is another place where everyone shows up at the same time. Today, three minibuses left Puno all at 2pm. It was sunny during the 40 minute drive there. Some ominous clouds could be seen as we arrived, and shortly after we’d walked the ten minutes from the car park up to the site, the heavens opened. Marvellous! I had been wondering how I was going to get photos without random people in them. Two people scampered off back to the car park at the first hint of rain, saying that they had no way to get their clothes dry if they got wet (?). The two guides and everyone else huddled behind one of the tallest towers (I didn’t; I put my goretex trousers on and put my hood up). After a while, the guides decided to give up, and around 45 folk (none with waterproof trousers, many without coats) scampered off back to the minibuses.

Luckily at this point, one poncho-clad young couple decided to be awkward and tell our guide in no uncertain terms that they wanted to continue with the tour. He didn’t look happy but gave a bit of a half-hearted 5 minute explanation then sent the 5 of us who were still there off to look at the other towers on our own (whilst he took shelter). So very few of us will have ended up with photos of burial towers with rainbow….. The best thing was that the rain soon stopped, so I did manage to get some reasonable photos without drowning my camera….

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