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Most popular myths and legends of Puno

The myths and legends of Puno are fantastic stories that are passed on from generation to generation about the supernatural origin of certain phenomena and mythological beings of Puno. 

These stories have different tweaks depending on who tells them, since there will always be something that is added or omitted in order to catch the listener’s attention and keep him/her excited. 

Next, we will talk about the 4 most popular legends of Puno.

The Legend of Manco Cápac and Mama Ocllo

This tale by the famous Peruvian Inca writer Garcilaso de la Vega was published in Lisbon in 1609.

This story narrates the origin of the Incas and tells how the sun decided to create two creatures with human characteristics. Both emerged from the foams of Lake Titicaca and would be in charge of civilizing the inhabitants of the area, in addition to teaching them about the Sun god.

The sun gave them a golden scepter, which would indicate the place to settle. This is where they would form a kingdom. However, to fulfill their mission, they had to separate. Manco Capac to the north and Mama Ocllo to the south. 

After their long journey, in which they summoned and subdued the people in their path, their scepter sank into the Huanacauri hill; here they would establish their kingdom.

In fact, this legend is something you might also hear in Cusco. If you like, you can check out our article on Cusco legends to learn more about this and other stories.

The legend of the origin of Lake Titicaca

It is a legend of which the author is unknown and speaks of a flourishing  population that disappeared after an outsider, who carried a large earthenware jar on her back, left it in the house where she was given shelter. However, she was never given anything to eat or a decent place to sleep.

Faced with exhaustion, she decided to continue on her way, but asked them to keep the jar until her return. She warned the members of the place not to remove the lid from the jar.

As the days went by, the curiosity of the inhabitants became very strong due to the warning which was dismissed by the people; the jar was uncovered, and water gushed out and flooded the town until it was completely submerged. From the jar also sprouted all the flora and fauna that exists in the lake to this day. 

Those living in the surrounding area claim to see the reflections coming out from the bottom of the lake at night. 

This is quite intriguing, right? If this caught your attention, then you can’t pass up the opportunity to see the lake in person. Buy your tickets to travel on PeruRail Titicaca train today.

The legend of Q’ota Anchacho, the demon of the Lake

The story, told by Jorge Noe Soto Ruelas, is also about Lake Titicaca. It is said that from the depths of the lake emerged a gigantic demon, bringing misfortunes and devouring everything that stood in its way. The locals feared him and fled in horror.

To mitigate their anger, the people built totems, performed rituals and sacrifices. Then they realized the benefits of the large clouds that formed in the wake of their anger, which provided irrigation for the vicinity. 

The legend of the three lazy youths

Narrated by Miriam Dianet Quilca Condori, the story is about an elderly woman who lived with her three sons. The old woman was the one who worked the land, and she and her children ate the produce.

The old woman, already tired of working, when food became scarce and the time of planting was near, sent her children to do the work. She prepared food for them every day so they would go to work.

However, when it was time to harvest, her sons would go out to steal the best local crops and take them to the old woman who still had no idea about what was happening.

One day, the old woman went to the field from which she believed the potatoes had been brought by her sons, but she was intercepted by the real owner of the field. The man told her what her lazy young sons were really doing.

The mother immediately complained to her sons, and they ran out of the house, turning one into hail, another into wind and the older into frost. As a result of this story, these three natural phenomena are called as the three lazy or the three lazy youths.


Undoubtedly, Puno has myths and beliefs that cover everything that its inhabitants consider very important. There are still many stories to hear in this magical city, do you dare to visit it? Don’t miss the exciting experience of doing it on a luxury train such as the PeruRail Titicaca. Find your tickets here!

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