Friday, September 11, 2009

Peru: Puno to Cuzco

This is my seventh post on our trip to Peru.

After our day on Lake Titicaca, we left Puno on a day-long tour bus ride from Puno to Cuzco. Our bus had a tour guide and bathroom on board and the trip included a buffet meal along the way. We made several stops throughout the day so our 10 hour bus trip really did not feel like it was that long. Between Puno and Cuzco you have the option to take several types of buses, fly or take the train. Only a tourist bus will let you stop to see the sights along the way.

Our first stop was at Pukara. There are Inca ruins there, but we had no time to hike up to them. Instead we toured the small museum in the town and our guide gave us our first real talk about the Incas as we had not yet visited any Inca sites. It was a nice break two hours into our trip. There was a vendor on the street selling chicken saltenas fresh from the oven and lots of people on our bus took advantage and said they were delicious. They are similar to empanadas, but with a sweet/spicy sauce and crimped down the center in a football-like shape instead of in a half-moon shape. Dan photographed his--well, part of it.

church at Pukara

church at Pukara

museum courtyard at Pukara

Next was La Raya, the highest pass on the route, where we stopped briefly for photos. After this stop the landscape changed abruptly from altiplano (high desert) with llamas, alpacas and vicunas to green valleys and farms with cattle, pigs and other livestock, but very few of the camelids found in the desert regions. As we passed villages en route, our guide would tell us what each was famous for: pottery, bread making, a special dish, etc.

Caleb at La Raya

La Raya

Halfway through our day we stopped for our buffet meal at Sicuani where we ate and were entertained by some very good local musicians. We continued to a nearby craft cooperative where artisans made jewelry, pottery and other handicrafts and where they had a few llamas and alpacas and gave us a talk about the differences between them.

Being the only kid on the tour, Caleb was given the honor of bottle feeding this baby alpaca.

He's a hungry little guy!

Me and an alpaca who is a little tidier than junior

Caleb's favorite part of the entire trip--guinea pigs. Ummm, we could have saved a lot of money by visiting Petco instead . . .

Back on the bus to Raqchi which is an Inca tambo. A tambo is a way station or resting place along one of the many Inca trails. Raqchi is famous for it's large temple, walled city and hundreds of round storage buildings called colcas.

The "spine" of the big temple at Raqchi. These big walls ran right down the middle and the wood and straw thatched roof sloped down to shorter pillars and outer walls. The small roofs you see on top of them now are just for preservation purposes.

Caleb inspecting the temple

Those Incas really knew how to work with stone!

Above: Raqchi

Below: black and white photos Dan took of some of the ruins and colcas at Raqchi

From Raqchi we got back on the bus and continued on to Andahuaylillas where there is a famous church which is one of the ones they call the "Sistine chapel of South America" due to the elaborate frescos that decorate the walls and ceiling. The door end of the church has a fresco of the last judgment like in the real Sistine Chapel, but done by native artists, of course. Photos were not allowed inside, but Dan got this one by standing outside the church and photographing through the doors. Unfortunately, it doesn't show much of the frescos.

Flowers on large trees that shaded the plaza in front of the church

We returned to the bus for the final leg of our journey to Cuzco, were met at the bus station by a rep from our tour company and driven to our hotel near the Plaza de Armas. And I'll tell you all about Cuzco in my next post. It's spectacular!

Copyright 2009 photos and text. All rights reserved.


  1. I don't want your posts to end! Your trip looks phenomenal! I may have to cancel Italy and go to Peru instead!

  2. Yummy looking saltena! Gorgeously enticing pics.