Whether you’re already adept at Spanish and looking to pick up some local lingo or a complete beginner, taking a few language classes offers an ideal introduction to local culture and learning Spanish in Lima has become a popular pastime for visitors to the capital.
One of Peru’s southernmost cities, perched on the banks of the vast Lake Titicaca and just a bus or boat ride from the Bolivian border, Puno is most often used as a starting point for exploring the natural reserve of Titicaca or traveling between the neighboring countries. With only one day in Puno, most visitors choose to spend their time cruising Lake Titicaca, but the city itself is also worth exploring, with its lively markets and folk festivals earning it the title of Peru’s folklore capital.
With fireworks displays, colorful parades and military salutes held on and around July 28th, the Fiestas Patrias (Independence Day) celebrations in Lima mark the city’s biggest and most patriotic festival, held in honor of José de San Martín’s 1821 declaration of Peru an independent state. With the entire country taking part in the festivities, this is one of the most atmospheric times of year to be in the capital and offers a unique opportunity to experience Peru’s diverse cultural and military traditions.
From the Andean Morochucos (Peruvian cowboys) in their wind-battered ponchos and chullos (alpaca wool hats), to the rodeos, horseback parades and ‘Jala-toro’ (bull-roping) events that take center stage at many of the country’s traditional festivals, Peru has a long history with horses. Today, horseback riding in Peru has become a popular activity for visitors, with a host of day and multi-day treks making the most of the varied terrain and offering a unique, off-the-beaten-track adventure – scrambling up mountain passes, galloping across open fields and ducking through dense jungle, before stopping off for refreshments at remote Andean villages.
With a history dating back to the 1920s, Peru’s national cocktail is so popular it even has its own holiday, and sipping a traditional Pisco Sour is a favorite pastime for visitors to Lima. Made from Pisco, a strong grape brandy and Peru’s national spirit, blended with fresh lime juice, egg whites and sugar to create a beverage that is equally sweet and sour, refreshing yet potent.
Puno’s vibrant traditional celebrations and rich music scene have earned it the nickname of the ‘folkloric capital of Peru’ and there are countless Puno & Lake Titicaca Festivals held throughout the year, from religious festivities and military parades, to street music performances and village fiestas. You’ll find something going off in the city almost every other week, but to experience Puno at its most atmospheric, time your visit to coincide with one of these major celebrations.