Virgins and Devils, and an 18 day party powered by Pisco Sours… Head to the shores of the world’s highest lake to experience a truly authentic expression of Carnival that is well and truly off-the –beaten track.. Situated in the South-east of Peru and at an altitude of 3,870 metres above sea level, Puno is famous for being the Folkloric capital of Peru due to its abundance of artistic and cultural expressions. For 18 days each February the little town of Puno, nestled on the shores on Lake Titicaca, plays host to one of the world’s most interesting festivals in which more than 200 groups of musicians and dancers descend on the town for the Festival de La Virgen de La Candelaria, the patron saint of Puno. Due to its location, Puno is a cultural melting pot of Andean tribes, which are represented in the festival through the duality of Aymara gaiety and ancestral Quechua seriousness.
The main event of the carnival is when the Virgin is led through the city in a procession, carried by priests and altar boys. They are joined by the musicians and dancers who follow the procession, performing and dancing along the route. Although the parade of the virgin is considered the main event of the carnival, a Dehouche insider tip would be to stake out a prime position for the Dance of the Demons known as the ‘Diablada’. The most spectacular costumes are those of the deer, complete with twisted horns that resemble the Devil. For 18 days the party continues, until on the last day the dancers who have filled the streets all flood towards the cemetery to pay their respects to the dead.
It is easy to forget during the carnival that for the majority of the year Puno is famed for its tranquillity and spectacular scenery, which is best appreciated while staying at the luxury Titilaka Hotel, located right on the shores of Lake Titicaca. Each one of the 18 suites has stunning views across and is equipped with under-floor heating and stand alone ofuro spa tubs, perfect for relaxing after a day sailing across the world’s highest navigable lake on one of the hotel’s catamarans.
Don’t Miss: The 41 man-made floating islands that surround lake Titicaca, which are still inhabited by the Uros people who depend on the lake for their survival. They source all their food from the lake and weave handmade crafts from the lake’s raw materials, which can be purchased when visiting the islands. The Uros claim to have ‘black blood’ which makes them immune to the cold, but for those ‘red-blooded’ among us, don’t forget to bring a jumper!