After de-stressing in La Paz for a couple of days we decided to cross over to Peru via Puno. We decided not to go to Copacabana which had originally been on our itinerary as from what we heard it was super touristy whereas Puno was less so. From all our reading Puno got terrible reviews, but to be honest, we thought the little town was pretty awesome! Getting to Peru involved getting a bus to Copacabana, stopping halfway to get our bus (and all our belongings) ferried across on a flimsy wooden ferry. Thankfully people arent allowed on these particulare ferries anymore as a while back one sank with all the tourists on the bus! The scenery, like on every other leg of our Bolivia trip was really exceptional! The scenery just outside of La Paz is mountainous and snowy, which considering it was Summer shows how high up we were. Travelling through rural farmland is one of our favourite things to do and Bolivia certainly didn’t disappoint!
The area around Lake Titicaca (insert numerous lame jokes about the name) was truly superb! The roads were often cut into the sides of sheer cliffs with nothing below but the enormous lake which seemed to change colour as we drove around the Peninsula.
Our first bus was pretty luxurious as far as busses in Bolivia go. You can just catch a glimpse behind us of the Japanese girls who befriended us because our Spanish was so good (this only shows how terrible their’s was ;) ) it was really cool seeing how many solo Japanese girl travellers there were around Bolivia and Peru.
The ferry across the lake, which at some points is more like a sea as it is flipping gigantic!
After switching buses at Copacabana for one filled with exceptionally smelly Europeans and getting held up at the Boliva-Peru border for missing paperwork (this was our second but not our last run in with Bolivia’s border control) we finally arrived in Puno. As Puno was the midpoint of our trip we decided to book ourselves into a nice shmancy hotel with view of the Plaza de Armas and a nice big bath and bed.
The difference crossing from Bolivia into Peru was tangible. Not only is Peru a more “developed” country with a much better infrastructure, but the people are far friendlier and more welcoming than their Bolivian neighbours. I think we both fell in love with Peru when we got to Puno.
Continuing our “luxury” spree we went by Tourist bus to Cusco via a number of really cool towns and sites along the way. Our bus had tea, coffee, a toilet and even an English speaking guide! I know this may not sound super fancy, but for us it sure was! Our first stop was the small town of Alcra Pukara which had a really awesome little museum of Pre-Incan artifacts and Vicunas (the cousin of the Llama and Alpaca) We spent some time at the Incan site Raqchi. It was originally a control point for people travelling to Cusco and was believed to hold troops. This was our first proper taste of Incan ruins and it certainly whet our appetites, even in the sporadically pouring rain! Andahuaylillas is supposed to house the South American equivalent of the Sistine Chapel. Infuriatingly though you are not allowed to shoot inside it even without flash so there are massive gaps in our documentation here. I was going mad not being able to document all the amazing interior artwork. The artwork on the facade does at least give an idea of the style and level of design. (Sistine Chapel it may not be, but it was damn impressive for being stuck out in the middle of the Andes!) Yuuuup, those are animal carcasses and heads just casually chilling in the back of someones car. I assume they got the car washed before transporting people? We decided not to stay in Cusco when we arrived as we wanted to save it for the end location of our trip. We instead hired a taxi and headed into the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo where we would hang out before getting on the Inca Trail.