Puno to Cuzco, Peru

Friday August 10 we took the tourist bus from Puno to Cuzco. It made six stops along the way at interesting tourist spots. The first stop was at the small village of Pucará where we visited a museum where the finds from a pre-Inca site high on the hill above the town were displayed. There was much pottery and some worked rock pieces to see, but the museum was quite tiny and with the tourists all arriving by bus at the same time it was difficult to see much. We checked out the little church off the main plaza which seemed to be old, i.e. not destroyed by earthquakes and re-built. The next stop was La Raya, the highest point on the road, at 14,259 ft. From there it was downhill on the east side of the Andes; if we had gone further we would have ended up in the Amazon jungles! From this pass, snow covered volcanic peaks could be seen. These peaks feed the Rio Vilcanota that eventually forms the Rio Urubamba of the Inca Sacred Valley. We then went downhill to Sicuani, where we made the third stop for a buffet lunch.

After lunch we stopped in San Pablo at an artisan’s market with a “petting zoo”: many alpaca, a larger llama and nine smaller vicuña were grazing on the lawn at the market’s center. Our guide found some green grass for us to feed to the animals. There was also a “typical” one room village residence, complete with an elaborate guinea pig run.

The next stop was to see the Inca site at Raqchi. There we saw the ruins of the temple to Viracocha, the Inca creator of “all”. On the site were dwelling units in groups of six around patios and over 200 huge round silos for the storage of the various grains that were grown on the agriculture terraces nearby.

The last stop was at the town of Andahuaylillas. This town was once a more important colonial town than Cuzco, but now is a small sleepy pueblo except for the bus loads of tourists that come to see the 17th-century church with its highly decorated wall frescoes, gold-leafed carvings, and decoratively painted ceiling. We finished the trip to Cuzco, arriving shortly after 5PM and were met by Marlon and family at the bus station. They are the hotel owners where we had reservations and he is a brother to Maribel from the hotel in Arequipa. Maribel had made the reservation for us.