There are several possibilities to go from Cuzco to Puno, the hub on the shores of the Lake Titicaca. The one we had planed was to take one of the few trains still running in Peru. Unfortunately, the price of 130 USD for 390 km made us change our mind fairly quickly.
So we chose to cover that stretch in a tour bus run by Inca Express that links the two cities, making five stops at various highlights on the way. The bus basically takes almost the same route as the train, but only costs 30 USD, including a guide, lunch & drinks on the bus.
It was the first time that we joined such an organized trip but we must confess it was excellent. Otherwise we would have never got to know these places, because it would be too complicated to get off and on a public bus with all our luggage five times in a day!
Our first stop was in Andahuaylillas to visit an old colonial church that claims to be “The Andean Sixtine Chapel”. Of course the paintings on the ceiling cannot compete with its famous “sister church” in Rome, but nevertheless were truly impressive. Next we were shown around Racchi, located at the base of the volcano Quimsachata. It is known for the remains of the Temple of Wiracocha, a magnificent example of Inca architecture.
In the small city of Sicuani we enjoyed a delicious buffet lunch, relaxing in the garden of the restaurant. In La Raya our bus stopped at the highest point on that route, at 4.335 meters. We took some photos of the snow-capped 6.000 meters high mountains towering over the Altiplano and got a taste how windy and cold this area is. All around, people farm and tend their life stock, living in small mud brick houses without heating.
In Pucara, our last stop, we visited the local museum which houses some incredible pieces of this Pre-Inca civilisation. It existed around 2.000 years ago in that area, the most impressive piece of the exhibit is the one meter high sculpture of the “Beheader”, a high-priest that holds a head in his arm. The persons this priest sacrificed were supposed to pass on to him their wisdom and their strength.
Early evening we arrived in Puno at 3.820 meters, and luckily found the Miski Wasi Inn, where we have stayed now for three nights. For the first time we feel comfortable at night at this altitude. Why? Because its effective little heater brings up the temperature in our comfortable room to a level where we do not need to crawl immediately into bed seeking shelter under a pile of heavy blankets.