ultramarinus – beyond the sea

INKA EXPRESS, Puno to Cusco, Peru

After visiting the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, we were finally acclimatized to the high altitude of the Peruvian Altiplano.  We were on the move again.  From the lakeside city of Puno, it would be a full day of bus ride in the mountains to reach the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco.  We took the prearranged Inka Express, a service popular among foreign visitors for that journey.

The Inka Express bus exited Puno, then reached the regional hub Juliaca after an hour on the road.  Another hour of bus ride took us to the town of Pukara, where we visited its colonial church and Litica Archaeological Museum.  Famous for its pre-Inca stone carvings and steles from the Pukara culture dated back to roughly 100AD, the museum was an interesting stop to learn more about the Quechua people prior to the Inca times.  Beside the museum, the colonial church at Pukara was an architectural gem.

By the time we reached Abra la Raya, we were finally leaving Puno Region behind and entering Cusco Region.  At about 4,350m, the Abra la Raya pass was a popular stop for photos, tourist souvenirs and washrooms.  The next stop came at Raqchi, where we were caught in a short but heavy rainstorm.  As the rain subsided, we followed our Inka Express guide out to walk around the archaeological site of Raqchi, checking out the ruined Temple of Wiracocha and the circular stone storehouses.

Once on the road again, we were soon told by the guide that some sort of civic strike was going on ahead in the town of Sicuani.  We soon found out what the strike was meant for us when our bus stopped behind a long queue of trucks.  Our guide made all passengers to get off the bus, carried our backpacks and walked forward on foot.  Soon we reached the picket line blockade where burning tires and construction debris piled up in the middle of the road.   After about twenty minutes of walking with all our belongings on a dusty road, our guide told us to stop by the curb and waited for our Inka Express bus to pick us up again.  Our bus driver somehow managed to find a short cut to get around the picket line and reunite with us.

We arrived at the main square of Cusco just before dark.  Before going to our hotel, we went to the office of Peru Treks to pay for the remaining balance of our Inca Trail trekking tour in three days’ time.  After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we went to a restaurant called Los Toldos to finished off the day with grilled chicken and fruit pizza.

1Inka Express leaving the Puno bus station.

2Leaving the central area of Puno.

3Passing by a giant slide while leaving Puno.

4Street scene of Puno.

5.JPGLeaving Puno and Lake Titicaca.

6Arriving at Juliaca, the largest city in Puno District.

7Roads in Juliaca where trucks were often seen on their way to or from Bolivia.

8Roads in Juliaca where trucks were often seen on their way to or from Bolivia.

9Arriving at the town centre of Pukara.

10Pukara church was a pleasant treat from the colonial past.

11Beside the Pukara church was the interesting Litica Archaeological Museum.

12The interiors of Pukara church.

13At 4,338m above sea level, the pass of Abra la Raya lies at the border between the districts of Puno and Cusco.

14The short walk to the service toilets at Abra la Raya was freezing cold and super windy.

P1020717-2_01A souvenir vendor took her llama out for tourists to take photos.

15At 92m x 25.5m, the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi was one of the largest temple in the Inca Empire.

16The circular store houses at Raqchi.

P1020720After we encountered some sort of strike that blocked all road traffic on the highway, we had no choice but to carry our backpacks and walked for 20 minutes to get to the other side of Sicuani.

P1020729At Los Toldos restaurant in Cusco, we could finally indulged in a relaxing meal of grilled chicken and fruit pizza.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

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