Another early start today - bags out by 6:00, leaving promptly at 6:30 as we have to catch a coach for the long drive to Puno. I think we are sharing it with other groups.
All on the bus (more like a coach) very comfy seats. It was due to leave a 7:00 but actually left 5 minutes early. Fairly leisurely drive as the roads are quite narrow and winding out of Cusco. The bus has a crew of 3, the driver, a guide who is explaining and describing everything and a bus hostess.
Very early on we stopped at one of the many villages and the guide got a large loaf of local bread. It was brought around the bus by the hostess so that we could all rip a piece off.
After only 45 minutes we arrived at our first stop - the church at Andahuailillas, known as the Sistine chapel of the Americas. It was very spectacular inside but we couldn't take photos but they did hand out a free CD with photos on.
peru-039-022Kiron outside the chaurch at Andahuailillas Continued the journey going higher up the Urubamba River valley (2nd biggest tributary to the Amazon). Fantastic scenery all around. After the initial narrowness and winding the road opened out into a new modern highway - completed about 5 years ago.
After another hour and 30 minutes we arrived in Raqchi. This is a big Inca temple complex which we explored for about 45 minutes. Now we understand how the journey takes 10 hours with all these sightseeing stops.
peru-039-086Inca Temple ruins at Racqui Then 45 minutes to the lunch stop and 45 minutes at the lunch stop. It was a buffet lunch which was good considering where we were.
Next stop was the Cusco/Puno areas border line at Abra la Raya which is also highest point on the road between Cusco and Puno at 4,335 metres / 14,210 feet. It's also the dividing line between the Amazon and Pacific basins.
peru-039-119La Raya highest point on the journey - 4,335 metres
peru-039-124Our bus at La Raya We then entered Altiplano – an area heavily farmed with Alpacas and Llamas and cattle. This area is a mostly flat huge plateau and is very brown and parched as it has a long dry season which we're towards the end of.
Final stop was at Pukara to visit a small museum with some remains from an earlier pre-Inca civilisation. We bought a pack of local coffee in the village shop.
Continuing driving along through altiplano and we saw a small flock of wild flamingos in the river! As we drive along there were lots scattered along the riverside. Never thought we'd see flamingos at 4,000 metres in the Andes - always imagined having to go Africa.
Anyway what we're driving through since passing the area border is in complete contrast with what we went through climbing up to it. A vast almost flat high plateau, few inhabitants but lots of grazing animals even though the brown scrubby grass doesn't look very appetising for them.
We drove through Juliaca (from where we fly back to Lima on Tuesday) a large run down town, apparently the illegal money capital of Peru - drugs, manufacturing fakes and smuggling (from Bolivia).
Soon after Juliaca we caught our first sight of Lake Titikaka in the distance - lots of reeds at the top end as they've had a very dry couple of years. A bit further on we can the lake more clearly. We soon arrive in Puno at the bus depot and decant from it to our waiting tour bus to take us to our hotel. Our hotel in on the shore of Lake Titikack! Unfortunately our rooms don’t look out onto the lake but we did have our supper in the hotel restaurant overlooking the lake albeit dark by then (it gets dark by 18:00).