There are several ways to travel from Cusco to Puno, we chose the one-day tourist bus called the Inka Express that included several stops along the way in the so-called “Route of the Sun”. The bus leaves very early in Cusco and the whole trip lasts about 10 hours.
Our first stop was San Pedro Apóstol de Andahuaylillas Church, also called the Sistine Chapel of the Andes” because of the beauty of its mural painting. Obviously way less impressive than the real Sistine Chapel, but still interesting to see a building like this in the middle of Peru.
The construction of the current temple started in 1570 with the creation of a small chapel corresponding to the existing apse and sanctuary; the nave and façade were completed in 1606.
The sanctuary has a polychrome ceiling in the Mudéjar style built using a pre-Hispanic construction method called kur-kur which combines cane, straw, and mud instead of wood.
Unfortunately, they don’t allow photos inside, so you can google the nice mural. After the mural tour that lasted what it seemed like 4 centuries due to the guide explaining literally every single inch of that mural, we had a little pee break and back into the bus.
The bus ride was very pleasant and looking through the window always offered amazing views. It was the perfect leisure trip after the previous hiking days.
Our next stop was the ruins of Raqch’i. The archaeological site of Raqchi has a very ancient date, even the majority of his constructions are from the Wiracocha period, many archaeologist date this place from 200 B.D. approximately.
Raqchi was a settlement of houses and temples Incas dedicated to Wiracocha (or Huiracocha), the creator god of the world according to many Andean cultures.
It is believed that Raqchi was built during the governments of the Incas Huiracocha, Pachacútec, and Túpac Yupanqui during most of the 15th century. However, the excavations carried out on the site, found ceramic remains of pre-Inca cultures. This would show that Raqchi was a sacred site for the cultures that preceded the Incas.
it is a common attraction for local school tours!
Necessary photo to prove we were actually here and these are not photos from google.
We had a few minutes to shop for more souvenirs before jumping back to the bus.
We had a buffet lunch that was included in the tour. The food was questionable, but the soup was delicious. In Peru, we really had to be careful with the food as EVERYONE gets food poisoning here. Sarah’s new earring purchase of the trip.
Sarah had a runny nose, so she was on a constant adventure to find toilet paper.
More driving time…
And we arrive at La Raya Pass, a high mountain pass at an elevation of 4.350m (14,271ft) above the sea level that marks the divide between the Puno and Cusco regions. The lack of oxygen made this dog think it’s OK to sit in the middle of a highway.
The beautiful Sarita meets the Andes mountains.
Group photo with the great travel quartet.
Guess what? more souvenirs! it’s like they were following Thomas.
The town of Pucara was the next stop, which houses one of the most underwhelming museums we have ever seen. One small room with a few displays, that’s it.
The town had a nice church but was closed to the public.
Pucara is the center of production of the ceramic cow roof decorations, which is a common site in Peru.
Known as Torito de Pucara, they are placed on the roof for good luck, fertility (of crops and livestock) and to bring prosperity. They are typically given as presents for extra luck and pretty much every building you see in southern Peru has one of the decorations on its roof.
We bought some snacks for the road.
It was a nice quick visit to the town.
And after boarding the bus for one last time, we drove a couple more hours until we arrived at Puno at night. We will be spending that night in a floating island in Lake Titicaca.
Bonus pic of the day: Agua de Florida, A cologne used in South America by shamans for cleansing, healing, ritual feeding, and flowering. We used it a lot to help with the altitude sickness and nausea and it really helped a lot. We became kind of addicted to it. I have some at home if you want to try it!