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Day 11 – Cuzco to Lake Titicaca

(Sunday September 1st)

This was going to be a long day of travelling. We were picked up at 7:30m am.

It took quite a while to work our way through the traffic of downtown Cuzco – it seems it’s busier on Sundays than on any other day. The local market was in full swing – the goods looked much more interesting than those on the tourist stands.

Andahuaylillas

Our first stop was at Andahuaylillas, and its pretty little church. It still had the dressed up dolls, and there was still a lot of gold leaf and glass around, but there were some beautifully painted murals and the ceiling was something else! No plaster here – it was painted directly onto the wood.

Attached to the church is a shop, where goods made by locals are sold. They are more expensive than the tourist tat, but cheaper than the up-market alpaca shops. I bought two lovely lacy scarves/shawls for 45 sol apiece.

Raqchi

These Inca ruins felt a bit like some of the Egyptian temples we used to visit – but without the artwork.

All the ancient walls have been topped with clay roof tiles to protect them, which is slightly disconcerting. It’s a pleasant place for a stroll, and to stretch your legs on the journey. There’s a small market too, which is much more relaxing than the ones in Cuzco. And a spiritual healer, who also sells very reasonably priced pendants. The group came away with a number of alpacas, pendants, and a large round flat locals hat!

Lunch at Tuna

I must put our lunch stop in, at a small restaurant called Tuna.

Now bear in mind we have been very impressed with the quality of food we have had so far; the all included in the tour lunch at Tuna was outstanding.

It was in the form of a buffet, where you could go back as many times as you like. All the food was typical Peruvian local cooking. There was a lovely soup, salads, breads, meat dishes of chicken, beef and trout, and hot vegetable dishes. Best of all was the pudding table – jelly, rice pudding, a dark chocolate mousse, what I think was an orange crème caramel, and – absolutely scrumptious – a dish with crushed cookies, caramel and whipped cream. We came away full to the brim and then some.

I think I’m going to need to diet when we get home.

Abra la Raha – the top of the world

At 4,300 meters, this pass over the mountains was the highest altitude point on our trip. It came with the usual gaggle of street traders, but they’re nowhere near as pushy as other places we’ve been (Egypt and Bali come to mind)….

Altiplano

After the pass, we’re into another area of Peru, and driving across the Altiplano.

I was hoping to see herds of alpacas and llamas here, but in fact we only saw one – right at the beginning of the drive. Very disappointing….

There were lots of herds of cattle and sheep though, each one with a keeper to make sure they didn’t wander far.

Juliaca

Juan had warned us that Juliaca was a dump – he was right. This is the centre of the Peruvian fakes industry, and is one of the most unkempt cities I’ve ever been through. It looks like one large building site, with many houses only finished (if that’s the right word) on the ground floor, and concrete pillars with steel sticking out of them above.

We also went through the most disorganized road junction ever. Basically, the main road and all the other roads leading in came to a junction which was in effect a building site. It was a case of weaving yourself across the dusty muddy site, dodging vehicles that were coming at you in all directions, and generally heading towards the road you wanted to come out on. There was no such thing as lanes…. Big tip: Don’t rent a car in Peru

Puno

Puno was our end point for the day. It is supposed to be better than Juliaca, but I must say that I couldn’t see any difference. Puno is also a large building site.

We dropped the ones staying in the upgraded hotel off on one side of the bay, then drove around to the other side for the Hotel Jose Antonio. In both cases, I don’t think we’ll be wandering outside the hotel grounds….

Hotel Jose Antonio

Bearing in mind we’ve been impressed with the Jose Antonio chain of hotels so far, the one at Puno was the best so far – with one exception. All the public areas were too cold by far…..

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