Cuzco to Puno by Altiplano Express

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South America » Peru » Puno
May 17th 2006
Published: May 26th 2006EDIT THIS ENTRY

Esther stepping outEsther stepping outEsther stepping out

High in the bleak Altiplano... not a place you want to be left behind!
(Guest written by Sean) After almost a month in Cuzco, the navel of the world, the time had come to get moving, and head over to Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian border. Our transport choices were a bus or the train - having a hankering for great South American train journeys since we got here, we chose the train.

´Express´ is a slight exageration however: the bus takes six hours to get to Puno while the train takes ten... But as you might have noticed already we´re not on a particular hurry with this trip!

Got to the station a half hour before its departue time at eight am... Almost all the coaches are first class, looking quite plush and having an open air observation car at the end. But first class costs something like 130 dollars while second class costs 20... It took Esther a while to convince me but we went economical in the end.

Not that it was too bad... comfortable seats and tables, and the single second class car was far from full so we were able to stretch out and make ourselves comfortable. Train headed off at a steady pace through the Cuzco suburbs, lots of kids waving at us... which happened pretty much all day long actually, even through the bleakest parts of the highlands... we felt like Royalty!

They took lunch requests early on - for lunch ended up having the best hamburger I had in the whole country... The train passed through the eastern side of the valley that Cuzco is in, which was pretty breathtaking - rivers, forests and hills, it resembled Northern California. Then we slowly climbed out of the valley into the Altiplano, which is the high treeless plateau that makes up most of the territory between Cuzco and Titicaca. It started to get very high... well over 4000 metres, the Sun being very bright and the air very dry - lots of static electric shocks!

Nice feeling to know we were riding all day long from more or less sunrise to sunset and just letting the day go by - nothing to do but relax and watch the view. Except that is when the Peruvian traditional band comes aboard and asks me to dance...

We later stopped at an Altiplano town called La Raya where there was a lot of things for sale. Heading onwards, the railway line runs parallel to the road for most of the train so we could see buses overtake us quite often... but as we stretched out on our comfy chairs we didn´t care.

After spending most of the afternoon moving through the highlands we slowed down to pass through the town of Juliaca where the train passes through the centre of the market - everything was for sale, even weird pieces of scrap metal, like something out of Mad Max...

Finally we arrived in Puno on the somewhat greenish shores of Lake Titicaca shortly after dark. A little stiff but overall relaxed. Apparently the Peruvian government bankrupted itself back in the 19th Century with its railway spending. Some 150-odd years later I´d like to say thanks, train-crazy Peruvian government dudes!

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Shrine at the railway stationShrine at the railway station
Shrine at the railway station

For good luck? Maybe they know something we don´t!
On the move!On the move!
On the move!

Leaving the Cuzco valley
La RayaLa Raya
La Raya

stopping off point - high and dry enough for plenty of static electricity
This is a disco train!This is a disco train!
This is a disco train!

Traditional band came aboard, looking for dancing volunteers...
Sean volunteering (or volunteered)Sean volunteering (or volunteered)
Sean volunteering (or volunteered)

the hat was their addition...
Sean with dancing girl... as usualSean with dancing girl... as usual
Sean with dancing girl... as usual

The singer from the band entertaining our coach, who Sean ended up dancing with
Sunset over Lake TiticacaSunset over Lake Titicaca
Sunset over Lake Titicaca

Approaching our destination

26th May 2006

Hey Esther can you get me a Peruvian worry doll?
30th May 2006

Happy Birthday Sean
Hi Chaps, Good to see you have been celebrating your birthday Sean by dressing up in your finery, love the hat.
30th May 2006

Esther, I enjoy following your travels....miss you on the walks.
1st June 2006

Miss You
Hey! While you're off galavanting...I got engaged! Pics are in your email (recent trip to Napa where we hung out with Carrie's folks; couldn't get ahold of Bates...) Thanks for including me in all of your adventures. Miss you. xoxo Erika

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