Route from Puno to Cuzco
The route linking Lake Titicaca to the imperial city of Cusco can be done by a touristic train on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, covering 350 km (217 miles) in 10 hours with a single 15-minute stop halfway. The trip is quiet, the landscapes are wonderful and the food up to a gourmet restaurant, but with high prices.
The same tour in bus allows to visit very interesting sites in 10 hours (visits included), the same time as in train.
A 64 km from Juliaca (1 hour), this town was the center of the Pucara civilization. Here we find remains of a ceremonial pyramid and a very interesting small museum that presents archeological pieces, especially ceramics and numerous engraved stones depicting deities.
Toritos de Pucará
It is in this village potters process the Torito de Pucará (ceramic bulls) that we can see on the middle of rooftops of many houses in the southern Andes.
Always are a couple of bulls, to bring abundance, prosperity and home protection.
La Raya pass
Abra La Raya is a pass at 4,470 m (14,662 ft) a.s.l. and marks the border between the departments of Puno and Cuzco. Among the many handicraft sellers, you can see the beautiful Chimboya glacier (5,489 m / 18,004 ft) which unfortunately is melting very fast as many in Peru and around the world. Here is the source of the Vilcanota river with later, in the Sacred Valley, changes its name to the Urubamba river or Willkamayu (Sacred River in quechua), past Machu Picchu and flows into the Ucayali River in the jungle. This river also change its name in northern Peru to Amazon river.
Inca archaeological site, this complex had three functions: religious, administrative and military. An impressive wall 20 meters (65 ft) in high and 92 meters (302 ft) long was the center of a temple dedicated to Viracocha, the Creator God. You can also view sacrificial altars. Further, circular constructions, the Colcas, were used to store food for their conservation and distribution to the population in case of natural disaster or war. Raqchi was located in the Qapac Ñan, the Inca road system and was used as a checkpoint between the Collao Plateau (altiplano) and the capital Cuzco.
5 minutes from the small town of Urcos, in the village of Muñapata (50 km / 31 mi before Cuzco), begins the Trans-oceanic Highway newly constructed y renovated in 2011, connecting the Pacific Ocean in Peru with the Atlantic Ocean in Brazil, crossing the Andes and the Amazon jungle, from San Juan de Marcona (near Nazca) to Iñapari on the brazilian border. From the border, you can reach the major cities of Brazil as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, etc.
Now is required 8 to 9 hours to go from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado in the jungle (524 km / 326 mi), while previously needed 2-3 days trip.
Cuzco / Brazilian border: 750 km (466 mi) - 15 hours
Nasca / Cusco: 660 km (410 mi) - 14 hours
Lima / Cusco: 1,110 km (690 mi) - 20 hours
Another section runs to the Peruvian port of Matarani through Arequipa and another to the port of Ilo through Puno.
This picturesque village is less than an hour from Cusco. In the main square bordered of pisonay, large trees with red flowers, is an unusual church. It has been called the Sistine Chapel of America for outstanding murals and ceiling completely covered with flowers and fruit motifs. You can also see wonderful newly restored pictures of the Cusco School, engraved wooden altars and many gilded with fine gold.
Before arriving to Cusco
Each village between Andahuaylillas and Cuzco has its special peculiarity.
Two minutes further brings the village of Piñipampa where they make all the roof tiles for Cuzco region in artisanal ovens what we can see on the side of the road.
10 minutes from Andahuaylillas, you can see a huge wall near the roadside. This construction dates from the Wari culture (1000 AD) and was an aqueduct that supplied the neighboring city of Pikillaqta. Then the Incas have completed the work with finely carved stones and used the site as a checkpoint at the southern entrance to the capital of the Inca Empire.
30 km / 17 mi from Cusco (45 mn), this complex was a pre Inca construction in the Wari period (1000 AD). It was an urban and ceremonial center and its name means "town of fleas" or "small town" for its small buildings, not exceeding 4 m2 (43 sq ft) and appeared to be part of a military post.
This town is proud to be the national capital of bread and local bakers are the providers of the city of Cusco.
25 km (16 mi) from Cusco (30 mn), this impressive complex of terraces has probably been used as a laboratory for the development of agricultural products by the Incas. Its ingenious system of irrigation and hydraulic technology with canals sometimes underground earned him the title of Civil Engineering Marvel by the American Society of Civil Engineers of the United States.
Besides the great archaeological site, Tipón specializes in "cuyerías", restaurants serving baked cuy (guinea pig).
This village is known for the "chicharronerías", restaurants featuring a local pork dish the chicharrón, fried pork rinds and fried pork skin that can be seen presented in display cases along the road.