Across the Peruvian Altiplano
We leave Puno today and head across the central highlands to the city of Cusco. Leaving our lovely Lake Titicaca hotel our private coach is packed full of luggage, water and box lunches! Just 10 minutes out of Puno our first stop is a viewpoint over the city offering our last views of Lake Titicaca. Spectacular. From here we start to cross the Peruvian Altiplano, currently a dry grassland vista dotted with small farmsteads breeding llamas, alpacas and sheep. In the town of Pukara we were hoping to visit the Inca artefacts in the local museum but unfortunately it was closed. Instead we stop at a pottery shop. Pukara is famous for producing the pottery bulls that adorn the roofs of many houses in Peru. It is believed the bulls offer protection and safety to your home and Pukara is where it all started. We enjoy a demonstration from the owner and also buy some provisions (and some bulls of course). From Pukara our next stop is the high point of the journey, La Raya. There is a wonderful view of snow-capped mountains from here. We enjoy our lunch at La Raya before starting the downhill journey towards Cusco. The packed lunches are considerable - in fact one between two would have done! During our lunch break a friendly Alpaca came along to say hello. No doubt it is used to people lunching at this viewpoint. It turned out it was also used to coach vehicles because it tried to get on board!
Our next stop was a visit the important Inca ruins at Raqchi and we complete the programme with a visit to St Peter's Church in Andahuaylillas. This church has the most magnificent frescoes and decoration. On arrival here a strange looking man with a nice camera took a photo or each of us. It caught us by surprise. Richard and Dawn had a feeling what may transpire but more about that in the next blog.
The whole journey from Puno to Cusco comprised wonderful scenery although we have to admit we noticed some guests taking a siesta from time to time.
Arriving in Cusco we switch from our big coach to small minibuses. This is because the city centre streets are narrow and the local authorities don't want big vehicles damaging the roads and old buildings. Quite sensible really. On the outskirts of town we have 4 minibuses waiting for us. We switch over and all our big luggage fits (somehow) into a separate van. Five minutes later we arrive at our hotel, the luxurious Cusco Palacio del Inka. Staff are ready and waiting and in no time we are settling into our very comfortable rooms.