‘Chulpas’ are funerary towers (burial tombs) constructed by the Colla Aymara people in pre-Inca times. The chulpas at Sillustani are known to be some of the finest and most cylindrical examples of chulpas in the entire region (Peru and Bolivia). Photo by JJM, April 16, 2019.

Higher Bodies of Water
Just over a year ago, on April 16, 2019, I visited the port city of Puno on the shores of the famous Lake Titicaca in Peru. Titicaca lake is widely known as the “highest navigable lake in the world” at 3,812 m (12,507 ft) above sea level, but there are other bodies of water that are higher, but not larger – and one of those is Lake Umayo situated 20 km’s from Puno.

A remote place
Lake Umayo feels remote, even though the journey from Puno only takes about 45 minutes (with a couple of stops along the way.) Silently overlooking the lake from the hill right on the edge of it is the rather mysterious and mystical pre-inca burial site of Sillustani. It being positioned in a picturesque area with the stunning backdrops of Lake Umayo and its lagoon with the deep green of the surrounding landscape makes for an impressive visual experience.

The site itself consists of numerous tower-like structures known as chullpas, which were Aymara funerary towers for nobility. The chullpas at Sillustani are known to be some of the finest and most cylindrical examples of chullpa burial tombs in the entire region. It is speculated that these initial structures by the Colla (a subgroup of the Aymara people) were possibly later used as foundations for new towers by the Incas due to the different architectural styles found at the site.

My experience
I will not elaborate too much here, but suffice to say that from the perspective of visiting ancient sites for more than just the archaeology, Sillustani ticked all the boxes for me. It had energy, atmosphere, history, culture and mystery – all in one. On the day that I visited the light was relatively low unfortunately as it was overcast and late in the afternoon, but it actually added to the atmosphere.  Allthough not as bright as some of my other photography on this site, these images hopefully convey some of the atmosphere of Sullustani on that day.

By Jean-Jacques


Explorer, Philosopher, Photographer


  1. Debra Malmos

    Thank you for sharing the vision of your journey. I was amazed at the cylindrical towers of stone, so perfectly fit. I jumped over to see your images of “Ancient Inca Design” in Peru from 2016… so beautiful too.

    • Jean-Jacques

      Thanks for browsing the pictures, Debra! Peru has so much to offer, it must be close to the most diverse country in the world for visitor offerings. I actually have pictures of at least two more archaelogical sites that I can share – might get another post up in a couple of weeks.

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