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Road to Cuzco

Added: July 11, 2010

Tags: Peru RTW SouthAmerica church lake mountains photos
We spend whole day 15th of February in bus from Puno to Cuzco. It was very nice scenic road and that was also reason we decided to travel during day, compared to alternative night trip. That would save us some time and also money, but we would not see anything.

After we finished our visit of Uros floating islands yesterday evening we met with guy wanting to sell us bus tickets to Cuzco. He waited for us, called a taxi and took us to his office, quite close to our hostel. It turned out our trip will not be by Inka Express, but by First Class. But everything else will be as he promised. We got tickets, and a promise his colleague will come for us in the morning.

I should make some pause now to build on suggested suspense, but I don't know how :-)

Next morning she really came on time. She was without car, but she found a taxi quickly and we went to place where First Class buses were leaving from. I would not say it was bus station. So if we went alone we would not find it.

I showed our no-so-cheap confirmation of payment to guy at counter and he refused it with ease. It just did not look like their bus tickets and he will not allow as into bus. Travel agent lady started to argue, but it was still no joy.

She started to call somewhere, then she went out and I followed her closely. I was determined not to lose this. Her phone died and she refused to return $$$. She asked nearby bus driver to use his phone. Finally she started to speak with somebody and started to run. I followed her again. Fortunately it was not as bad as I started to fear. She ran into the office and handed the phone to clerk. I don't know who she called, but it worked. He printed us proper tickets and we were allowed in.


The bus was quite nice, drinks were available and a guide spoke English. There were about 18 tourists so it was not full.

Our first stop was after 1.5h in Pukara (Pucará). There is pre-incan archaeological site, but we visited only Museo Lítico where all artefacts were transferred and also local church.

It was prohibited to take photos in the museum, so I offer just some of church.

We were followed by bus Inka Express and its driver had unbelievable talent to park in way you could not get decent photo of whole church (it happened several times). This time was the best, but I could not move further to get rid of it completely.



Photos from bus

Only disadvantage of our bus were tinted windows causing problems with white balance. Left side had different tint than right side, making it even more complicated. But I never liked taking photos from a bus, so I did not make many. Only when I could not resist it any more. And maybe people not accustomed to my approach to shooting would say I took many :-)





La Raya

The highest point of our route was at La Raya (4335m). Mountains started to get beautiful sooner, but they were amazing at the place we stopped.

We did not stop at parking lot with sellers, because there were many other buses, but about 200-300m sooner. Next to nice lake. But I wonder if I could take nicer photos from the parking lot. There was not time to find out.


I probably should risk to go further to the right, but when I was taking this and following photo people started slowly to get back into bus. Or I should have spent less time on photos I did not publish here...
Mountains at La Raya

Panorama of La Raya

Lunch at Sichuani

Next, very welcomed, stop was at restaurant in Sicuani. Lunch was waiting for us, buffet with good selection of salads, meat and others necessities. Including 2 kinds of deserts.

Behind us were grazing llamas or alpacas. To make our experience better there was a band Inti Wayra nicely playing. We bought one CD from them, but I regret our decision seriously. We should have bough all CDs they offered us. But you never know what you are buying until you listen to them.


Short commercial stop

... in San Pedro 10 min away. To look at llamas and alpacas. Maybe they will inspire us to buy some goods, made either from wool or silver. Little baby llama was cute, but it was not enough to turn us into keen shoppers :-)


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Wiracocha temple at Raqchi

Since we started to descend after passing La Raya the country changed. Mountains looked differently, it was greener, there were also trees and we learned they are eucalypts imported from Australia to help with deforestation. And maybe whole difference was caused by fact we were in Sacred Valley of Inca empire.

We stopped at Raqchi where former temple of Wiracocha is located. It is partially reconstructed, but it is mostly in ruins. We could see hints of famous incan stone walls, but upper parts were made from mud bricks and roofs were not original (or reminding original ones) too.

Middle wall is only one showing it former scale.
Wiracocha temple at Raqchi

Half of area of temple building.
Wiracocha temple at Raqchi

Incan walls. Small and simple compared to what can be seen around Cuzco, still quite impressive.

View of living quarters.
Living quarters ar Raqchi



Nearby settlement.

At least church from colonial period is well-preserved.

San Pedro de Andahuaylillas

Our last stop was in small town San Pedro de Andahuaylillas. It is the place of famous "Sistine Chapel of South America" - richly decorated church. Its decoration shows Catholic influence (as expected), but there is also Muslim and Andean influence clearly visible. It was built by local and Spanish artists, so it makes sense. It stays at the place of former Incan temple (as at many other places in region).

Interesting, it is worth of visit, but I would not call is Sistine Chapel. It was not possible to take photos inside and outside is quite modest.



Arrival into Cuzco

We arrived in Cuzco at about 7pm. It is slowly getting dark. A guide asked us if we have accommodation, transport and program for following days. We had nothing, just an idea which hostel we want to go to (according to overall rating from hostelbookers). Taxi drivers stood around the bus, waiting for us so I asked him if it is safe to go with them. Ha said yes, and I know this one so we went with him.

He was quite nice, just too keen to sell us accommodation, private tours and other. It was not possible to get directly to our hostel, he said, due to stairs, so we went last 300m up hill. He went with us. Zuzka eventually got rid of him, because I've never learned that skill (I mean politely) :-) It turned out later other taxi did not have any problem to get directly to hostel from other side...