These mysterious cylindrical constructions appear to have been built just prior to the Inca conquest and were inspired by the neat stonework of the Tiwanaku people, who controlled the southern shore of Lake Titicaca circa 500 AD - 1100 AD.
Currently, the tallest towers are about 40 feet (12 meters) high; archaeologists say that others might have been even taller, however, many were dynamited by tomb robbers. Some towers display intricate carvings, best seen at sunrise as they are positioned directly east. Travelers can go to the park and enjoy the view, and if desired, easily arranged at the park.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Suitable for solo travelers, couples, families; archeology and history buffs especially.
- Entrance is about $2; pay in Peruvian Nuevos Soles with small bills or change.
- Since the altitude at Puno is 12,556 feet (3,827 meters), make time to acclimate slowly.
- Remember water for hydration and to mitigate symptoms of altitude sickness.
- Bring a sweater or coat since days are warm or hot, but the nights can be chilly.
- There is a small restaurant near the site.
How to Get There
Sillustani is located about 21 miles (35 kilometers) from Puno along Lake Titicaca. From Puno take a taxi or drive along Route 3S; expect the trip to take under an hour. For the return, organize for the taxi to wait or come back at a designated time.
When to Get There
Sillustani is open Monday through Saturday, 9am–5pm. Both sunrise and sunset are magical times to discover the chullpas. In the morning, it’s more likely to see the wild guinea pigs running about. At night, the usually clear desert skies are dark and filled with stars. Generally, the most pleasant time to visit Puno is from February through November, when the days are spring-like with virtually no rain. December and January are usually quite rainy.
The Enigma of the Towers
Archaeologists had theorized that these towers were the tombs of the Aymara elite, who were buried in baskets in the fetal position surrounded by offerings of grain, guinea pigs, and gold (some of which are on display in the Dreyer Museum in Puno). Though more recent discoveries, such as the remains of 44 children, apparently sacrificed some 700 years ago, intensify the mysterious origins and use of the towers.