A Miniature Fair by the Shores of Lake Titicaca in Puno, Perú

My work trip to Perú was going to take me to a three different regions of the country:  the better known Cusco and Lake Titicaca regions and the lesser known Ancash region.  But while the Lake Titicaca region is well known due to the lake, the hinterland behind the lake is fascinatingly beautiful and less explored by the average visitor.

Map (mapa) of Peru by its regions

Puno is the region in the lower right

This is the Puno province which sits at about 12,420 ft (3,860 m) above sea level.  Remember, Denver in the U.S. about 5,280 ft.  Puno is also higher than the highest point in many U.S. states!  Puno completely borders the lake on the Peruvian side,  and shares a land border with Bolivia and the jungle zone of Perú (Madre de Dios, a totally different climate zone).  I was not quite sure what to expect from the trip and the area but the natural beauty and the amazing people of the highlands of Perú definitely took my breath away. The area of Azángaro in the province was especially beautiful.

Puno and Juliaca are the key towns in the Puno province with the latter town having the main airport and being known by locals to be a place where one is easily robbed (why they emphasized it so many times to me is beyond me as I was going nowhere near Juliaca…)  Puno (with about 100,000 inhabitants) is by the lake (Juliaca is inland) so it is the gateway to Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side.  I visited most of the province except the 2 northern and 1 southern regions (that I know of! a lot of my travel was on country roads).  (Read about my visit to the islands in Lake Titicaca here:  http://ilivetotravel.me/2012/06/25/floating-islands-going-to-heavens-doors-and-a-challenge-in-gender-id-in-lake-titicaca/ )

Mapa (map) of Peru and Puno province

Map of the Puno region; Azángaro is towards the center, right above the lake

On my way there

I made my way to Puno from Cusco where I had just concluded field visits as well as squeezing a day and a half of local tourism.  My method of transport was a bus ride that took about 6-7 hours – a welcome change from airplane rides but most importantly because I would be able to admire the landscape along the way.   The road was very well built, the terrain fairly flat (though rising over the distance), and pretty much a straight road so not a lot of wild curves to make me dizzy.

Highway between Cusco (Cuzco) and Puno road, travel

The way to Puno from Cusco was beautiful and far from scary (unlike the Lima to Huaraz route!)

The local office had arrange a pickup at the bus station for me and I went straight to the office to meet some of the local folks, hear about their work, and the visits they had planned for me.  I had been itching to get to the hotel as I was tired and the altitude had increased from Cusco so I was feeling the lack of oxygen.  I had also asked ahead of time for help in planning some tourism activity for the weekend since I was getting there on a Friday evening and there were no field visits planned for the weekend.  We finalized those plans at the office and I was ready to get to the hotel.

A Miniature Af-fair

However, one of the locals offered to take me out that evening to see a special event celebrated annually in Puno:  the miniature fair (Feria de las Alasitas).  I was quite curious and decided it would be probably something to see so why not.  I dropped my stuff at the hotel and met her to go check this fair out.

Puno is nestled between hills and Lake Titicaca so there are a lot of steep streets except right by the waterside sort of where the fair was going to take place.  The town looked quite charming at night, especially near the hotel on a very lively street with a lot of eateries.

We approached the fair and I couldn’t quite believe the amount and diversity of miniatures of all kinds.  Any object you have in real life is sold in miniature.  The idea, belief, or tradition is that whatever you buy there in miniature will come true for you real life (and real size). Examples:

–        Want to get married?  Buy a miniature groom (if you are a woman), bride (if you are a guy), or  wedding cake

–       Want to come into some wealth?  Buy miniature dollars, euros, Peruvian soles (if you want to have money)

–       Want some good possessions?  Buy a car, laptop/PC, canned goods, etc.

–       Want a better roof over you?  Buy a house, apartment building, etc.

There actually is ritual sprinkling of the miniatures and prayers that are part of the tradition.  People sometimes assemble baskets with a variety of these items and take them home.  Besides getting their miniatures, they seem to enjoy walking around the different booths, picking out the items, and socializing.

Puno Peru miniature fair travel folklore culture arts photo

Some of the miniatures from the fair

The fair was mostly locals only and I greatly enjoyed the atmosphere as everyone seemed to be out and about enjoying the night, the fair, and each other. One of the funnest local festivals I have been to.

Puno, Peru, Lake Titicaca, miniature fair, good luck, tradition, culture

Just in case… I bought lots of “euros”, a house, and a car!

I also enjoyed walking around town at night – Puno was very lively and given its location had a good number of tourists.  It is definitely a great base from which to hit the lake and to hit the hinterlands of the Puno region!


  1. I have always wanted to go to Peru. Mr O is very keen to go up Macchu Pichu – he likes mountains and I will join him this time as I have heard of the “luxury hotel/train cheating route”. I now know who I will be asking for tips!
    @mrsoaroundworld recently posted..My favourite photos of the week – #FriFotos – MuseumsMy Profile

    • There is indeed a comfy way to do it, a rough way to do it, and a middle of the road way to do it for sure! I can give you more tips when the day comes. I have other writeups about Peru either already posted or coming so stay tuned and keep reading, my friend! This writeup just begins to scratch the surface of beautiful Peru! (And I have to point out the food in Peru is SPECTACULAR!)

  2. This is great info since Lake Titicaca is definitely a stop on our upcoming trip to Peru! I’ve heard the Bolivia side of the lake is quite different as well. I wonder which side Q & I should spend more time on… Maybe just need to do both. 🙂
    Gerard ~ GQ trippin recently posted..6 Months of Travel and Fall 2012 PlansMy Profile

    • Gerard, I have heard the Bolivian islands are pretty neat to see (Isla del Sol, for example). I will be sharing again my writeup about the Peruvian islands. Stay tuned as the hinterlands on the Peruvian side, I found, were pretty spectacular.

  3. Oh I absolutely love South America. Bolivia and Peru hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been trying to get Chris there for years. We’re hoping to make it there sometime in the next year. Here’s to hoping. 🙂

  4. i so so so want to go to Macchu Pichu. for some strange reason when i read anything about Lake Titicaca i hear a perverse comedian in my head saying the name in an inappropriate way. who’s the comedian? it’s making me nuts. mike myers? jim carrey? ugh…
    lola recently posted..i spy eye candy! RomeMy Profile

    • Sounds like Jim Carey, not sure! For us titi means auntie and caca, well, caca, so as kids we found it hilarious. No comments on how I find it now… 🙂

  5. what a great concept – the miniatures – and great belief. I really believe what you put your mind to and focus on you can accomplish, so I agree, getting miniatures might really help as they can serve as a reminder.

    So, what did you purchase?

    stay adventurous, craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..Sunset Sunday – A Sunset Sail in the Greek IslesMy Profile

    • I purchased euros because they were strong than dollars 🙂 I also visited elsewhere the festival of chirimoya (“custard apple”) and got to sample in the contest of the best chirimoya in the region (out in the boonies!). These festivals add a more local flavor to the travel for sure!

  6. Great trip…Peru is near the top of my list!
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Copperhead at Innisbrook Golf ResortMy Profile

  7. ahhh between you & gerard & kieu we’re getting serious peru jealousy. also, the miniature fair is so random and funny!
    the lazy travelers recently posted..thirty days to paradiseMy Profile

  8. I love the idea of the miniature fair and what each item stands for! Did you buy any? I’ve been dreaming of visiting Peru for some time now, I’m going to have to remember to make a trip to Puno as well!
    The World Wanderer recently posted..South Street Seaport and the Brooklyn Bridge.My Profile

  9. Wow…just thinking that Puno is twice as high as where I live is pretty unbelievable. This is the same altitude as where we had our ‘Taste of Vail’ reception – unbelievable.
    John recently posted..Confronting the Ethics of Zoos at Tanganyika Wildlife Park in WichitaMy Profile

  10. Aaaah, water + mountains, one of my favorite combos. Crazy how high out the Puno province is!
    Pola (@jettingaround) recently posted..Mexican Connection – Interview with writer Robin BayleyMy Profile

    • And if you like biking, this is a great place to explore areas few see. I left thinking I should help them create a cycling route around the region crossing the various provinces and creating small B&Bs or inns (didn’t see many outside of the area near Lake Titicaca).

  11. Very cool experience checking out off the beaten path destinations and events. The festival sounds especially appealing.

    I love 6-7 hour bus rides if I have the time and can swing it. Great way to see the countryside, read a book, and listen to tunes.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..A lunch in Poland in the city of Hamtramck, MichiganMy Profile

    • Let me tell you, the bus ride to Puno from Cusco was beautiful and peaceful – I highly recommend it. The one from Lima to Huaraz was beautiful but not relaxing for a good stretch as the bus careened, er, went on mountain roads with really bad driving… (I always heard about buses crashing in Peru after I went and wondered if they were on that route!)

  12. How fun to attend an event while traveling where you’re one of the few non-locals. As for the miniature items… I’m definitely intrigued 🙂
    Francesca recently posted..Michigan’s Lakeshore Harvest CountryMy Profile


  1. […] Read about my Puno visit here: http://ilivetotravel.me/2008/12/17/puno/. – Read about my Cusco visit here: […]

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