ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “Puno

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.

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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
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
PUNO & TITICACA
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
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
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
INCA TRAIL
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
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

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MORNING ON TAQUILE, Titicaca, Peru

We got up at around 7 in the morning.  The air was cold and refreshing.  We walked down to the courtyard to brush our teeth and then into the dining room for breakfast.  After breakfast, our host suggested us to take a morning walk to the “beach”.  He gave us simple instructions and we ventured off onto the rural paths of Taquile again.  We walked to a part of the island where we had not been to before, following a winding path with a low stone wall along both sides of the path that stretched all the way to as far as we could see.  The beach was at the far end of the island. We could get a glimpse of it from the village centre. Without signage for direction and a clear path leading to the beach, we could only trust our gut to find a way to descend to the beach at the foot of the hill.

The lake water was freezing cold. Two cows were wandering on the sandy beach while we chilled out in the cool breeze.  We stayed on the beach for about 20 minutes until we decided to walk back to the village to check out the handcraft centre.  We climbed back up the hill to the main path.  The handcraft centre had a huge collection of exquisite textiles and wearable pieces handmade by the villagers, such as knitted belts and hats.  The colourful pieces are often decorated with traditional patterns unique to Taquile.  In 2005, the textile arts of Taquile was declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.  Taquile is often considered a successful example of community-based tourism.  Many islanders participate on making handcrafts for sell at the handcraft centre, or take turns to become hosts for visiting tourists.

After we visited the handcraft centre, we walked by a teenage girl sitting by the road, quietly knitting wool bracelets.  She lined up her colourful bracelets nicely on a piece of fabric for display.  The colourful bracelets had several different patterns knitted on both sides, and they all looked lovely to us.  While we were appreciating the works, a local islander waved at us from afar and he looked anxious.  He tried to tell us something important but we had trouble understanding.  After moments of confusion, we finally understood that he had been looking for us for quite sometime.  A friend of our host, he wanted to let us know that the boat leaving for Puno had changed its departure time earlier than scheduled.  Our host, on the other hand, had gone to the pier to urge the boat captain to wait for us.  By the time we were informed, we had less than half an hour to rush to the pier.  We followed the messenger’s lead to the exit archway of Taquile, where a long flight of stone steps led to the community pier by the lake.  We hurried down the stone steps in a single breath and finally jumped onto community boat leaving for Puno.  The community boat was much slower than the tourist boats, and the ride took over two hours.

After docking at Puno,  we went into a local restaurant at town centre for a big glass of warm chicha morada.  Chicha is a Peruvian drink made of purple maize with a variety of spices or fruits.  Fermented or non-fermented, chicha drinks have been popular with people on the Andes for centuries.  A glass of purple chicha morada (with spices of some sort) became the perfect conclusion for our visit to Lake Titicaca.  The next morning, we would head northwest to the historical heartland of the Inca Empire, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

7The boy of the host family was shy but curious. He invited us to play football with him at the forecourt of his house.

6Our host’s home had a big foreground surrounded by adobe houses on three sides and a wall at the front. The forecourt is a perfect place for the kids of the family to play football.

1The rural scenery of Taquile in early morning.

2A woman with her sheep for a morning walk.

3The beach that our host recommended was down the hill from the main path.

4The beach is right at the foot of the terraced farmlands.

5We finally reached the beach. We were greeted by a cow and its calf there. The water was too cold for a comfortable swim but the sun was warm and the sand was fine.

10PE05-29At the Handcraft Centre, we found many finely made textile items and knitwears.  Examples of Taquile’s famous knitting could easily be seen everything on the island, including the traditional headwears of the villagers.

8We passed by a number new buildings under construction when we rushed to the pier.  Many buildings were left unfinished until villagers saved up enough money to complete the second level.

9After passing this arch, we would bid farewell to Taquile island.

10Following the messenger, we hurried down the stone steps to catch the community boat.  The stepped path was long with uneven stone risers.

11We finally made it to the pier and were amazed by the speed at which we descended the uneven steps.

12There were a few boats at the dock. The community boat left from a different pier than where we arrived a day ago.

13At last, the farming terraces of Taquile Island was behind us.

14As the boat moved out to the lake, Taquile Island appeared smaller and smaller until it disappeared completely.

15Our boat passed by some fish nets in the lake.

16During the boat ride, we passed by a number villages along the coast of the mainland.

17Close up of a coastal village by the Lake Titicaca.

18We were sitting out on the boat deck.  After the gate marked by the light towers, we knew Puno would soon be in sight.

19We arrived at Puno at late afternoon. We strolled around the market near the town centre and went into a small local restaurant for a warm chicha moranda.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
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
PUNO & TITICACA
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
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
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
INCA TRAIL
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
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


UROS FLOATING ISLANDS, Titicaca, Peru

At roughly 3,800m above sea level, Lake Titicaca is widely considered the world’s highest navigable lake by commercial sailing.  Deep blue water, bitterly cold winds, golden marsh reeds, remote island communities and legendary floating villages: the story of Titicaca contributes a unique component to every visitor’s experience traveling in Peru or Bolivia.  For us, our Titicaca experience was centered at our visit and home stay on the peaceful Taquile Island.  Before reaching Taquile, we made a brief stopover at one of the floating Uros Islands.

In the morning, we headed out to the main pier at Plaza del Faro.  A row of boat ticket cabins stood at the entrance of the pier.  We approached the ticket booth which sold tickets for local boat to Taquile. We then boarded on a small boat among a boat cluster.  Our plan was to sail to Taquile, stay the night there at a local home, and return to Puno the next day.  We thought of getting some fruits as gifts for our potential host at Taquile, but we missed the chance to do so the night before.  While waiting for the boat to depart, our friend returned to the pier and to our surprise came back with a bag of oranges.

Sailing northeast from Puno through a labyrinth of water networks in an enormous marsh filled with totora reeds, our boat soon reached an area where the floating islands concentrated.  The boat ticket includes a brief tour to one of the floating islands which are the home of the Uros tribe. Our boat captain navigated slowly among the floating islands and docked by the island that is available to take in visitors. There were about a dozen of passengers on our boat, including both tourists and the locals.

The Uros villagers use bundle of a native reed to make boats for transportation and to build floating island on which they reside.  Layers of dense roots interweave to form a one-to-two-meter thick base for the island. Villagers have to constantly add layers of reeds on top of the island as the reeds at the bottom rot away.  To us, the floating island is soft and stable to walk on. We were told not to run around as there might be hidden weak spots.  We enjoyed the time spent on the island, wandering in front of houses and checking out souvenirs from vendors.  Although it was a short visit, we appreciated the little introduction given by the villagers about the floating islands.

1We boarded a community boat that took us to Taquile Island. Our boat was smaller and slower but quieter than the other tourist boats. With our limited Spanish and the help of other travelers, we expressed our interest on spending the night at Taquile to the captain who then made arrangement for us.

2The boat moved slowly away from Puno.  All boats entering or exiting Puno in Lake Titicaca has to pass through a narrow watercourse through the dense reeds.

3
When the engine of the boat was turned down, we were embraced by an indescribable tranquility. The weather was nice and the lake was calm.

4We were on a community boat with the locals. They seemed accustomed to the presence of tourists. We tried to keep our voice down when we talked. Since we couldn’t speak much Spanish, we could only show our friendliness by sharing our snacks with them.

5The boat ride to Taquile included a brief stop on one of the floating islands. The captain steered the boat slowing into the area where the Uros community is concentrated.

6Reed made canoes were parked along one of the Uros Islands.

5BAfter minutes of searching and asking, the captain finally found a village community which was available to give us a little introduction about the unique floating islands.

7We landed on the floating island with great excitement. The sun was warm and the ground was soft to walk on.

8There were about 10 small houses on the island. The villagers showed us around the island. We were told not to walk too far away from the main open plaza as we might accidentally stepped onto the weak spots.

9Every island has a welcome arch made out of reeds.

10A boat with a big roof was approaching us. Its big low roof was designed to keep the interior from getting wet.

11Looking at the small boat from the side, we saw it carried all different kinds of snacks, food and drink. The boat moved from one island to another.

12A villager on the island was preparing the presentation materials to give an introduction about the floating islands to the visitors.

13These are the handmade crafts that villagers used to tell visitors story about the floating islands. We played with the little reed boat with our hands. It felt very light but strong. We decided to get one of these little reed boat as a souvenir.

14Each floating island has its unique design. The welcome arch is visible from afar.

 


ROAD TO TITICACA, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru

Maca was the last village we visited in the Colca Canyon.  Stood against the Andean mountains, the pure white walls and green painted doorway of Maca’s church left us a lingering feeling of the Altiplano (Andean Plateau) villages in this part of Peru.  It was a feeling that emerges from simple but harsh living condition, rough but beautiful landscapes, humble villagers mingled with curious tourists.  After Chivay, our minibus continued to crisscross the mountain roads in the area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve where we passed by the day before.  Soon, we bid farewell to the area with our last glance of the Misti Volcano.

The ride heading east to Puno was bumpy and felt awfully long.  In mid-afternoon, we reached the picturesque Laguna Lagunillas at 4,450m above sea level.  Dozens of flamingos dotted the blue icy water, against a backdrop of golden windswept landscape.  In the strong and freezing winds, we stood as long as we could to take in the scenery and refreshing mountain air.  After the magnificent lake, the minibus just kept on going east until the sun was set.

After hours of bus ride in the mountains, we were all exhausted when we arrived at Puno.  Located right by the northwestern shore of Lake Titicaca, Puno is the largest city in the Southern Altiplano.  It is a transportation hub and a convenient base for tourists to explore the lake and its islands.  We walked a bit in the downtown area, found a place to grab a quick bite, and retired early to our hotel room to gain some rest in order to get over the high altitude syndrome as best  as we could.  The next day, we would sail out the highest navigable lake (by large boats) in the world to experience the magic of the deep blue Lake Titicaca.

9Church at Maca village near Chivay.

10The underside of the green doorway of Maca church.

2Even at sleepy Maca, tourism has been transforming the life of villagers in recent years. We tried a freshly squeezed juice of a local fruit which we all loved it. A small vendor next to the juice stand was an old woman selling dried roots chips which tasted delicious too.

1Farewell to Misti Volcano.

3By the mountain highway at an altitude of 4,450m, Laguna Lagunillas was really in the middle of nowhere.

4Crystal clear water and groups of flamingos.

5Peaceful scenery of Laguna Lagunillas.

9Traffic police stand with advertisement of Inca Kola at downtown Puno.

10Streetscape of downtown Puno near central market.

11Vendors at the main covered market in Puno.

13El Rancho, a grilled chicken restaurant in downtown Puno.

14Bread for sale on the street of Puno.

15The Glorioso Colegio Nacional de San Carlos at Pino Park in downtown Puno.

16Iglesia de San Juan at Pino Park in downtown Puno.

17The pedestrianized Lima Street in downtown Puno.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
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
PUNO & TITICACA
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
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
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
INCA TRAIL
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
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


PERU TRIP 2010

In the next little while, we will engage in recollecting the delightful memories of our journey to Peru in 2010, and post our travel photos to document our first ever travel experience in South America.

In September 2010, with two of our best friends, we made a trip to Peru.  Like many others, the iconic picture of Machu Picchu emerging from the mist of Andes represents our first impression of Peru. Through pre-trip research, we learnt that this South American nation actually has much more to offer than just a postcard image: the Andes mountains, Amazon rainforest, Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines, ancient cultures, fabulous cuisine, etc.

With Peru’s friendly people and breathtaking scenery, our Peruvian experience was a great introduction to the fascinating continent of Latin America.  For almost three weeks, we made a small loop in Southern Peru, starting from the national capital Lima, then southeast to the colonial gem Arequipa and the mighty Colca Canyon, further east to Lake Titicaca and the peaceful Taquile Island, then west to the Inca capital Cusco and the ruins and villages of the Sacred Valley, trekking the famous Inca Trail with the grand finale at Machu Picchu, and returning to Lima to complete the loop.

The Peru trip was not our most challenging journey, but it is certainly one of the most remarkable and delightful travel experience we have had, especially when we could share the wonderful moments with our two travel buddies.

10PE15-32High up on the Andes, the lost city of Machu Picchu in front of Huayna Picchu captivates everyone’s imagination.

Peru Map_01Our route was a classic tourist loop at the southern part of Peru, taking in Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
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
PUNO & TITICACA
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
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
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
INCA TRAIL
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
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru