We bade a sad farewell to the beautiful city of Cusco and made our way along the Andes towards the shores of Lake Titicaca. In the few days which we spent in Cusco, we fell in love with the atmosphere of the city. Looking back, it was the one city in South America I felt most at home in. It had a sort of beautiful ambiance, a special and unique character, which I did not find elsewhere on my travels of that amazing continent.
Rather than taking the direct bus to Puno, we decided to make a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at Andahuaylillas, to visit the ornate colonial church in the town, known as the ‘Sistine Chapel of South America’, due to it’s decorative interior and wealth of Peruvian colonial art. Next stop was Raqchi, to marvel at the ruins of the Temple of Wiracocha. The ruins are of a once impressive and important temple in the region, and the adjoining living quarters. The complex is extremely beautiful and encased by the majestic hills which surround the town. Outside of the complex is a bustling marketplace, where local women endeavour to sell their handicrafts to the day tripping tourist who only stop by for an hour or two at the most.
As we neared Puno, we crossed Raya Pass. At over 4000m above sea level, it is a perfect site to inhale to crisp Andean air and take in the spectacular mountain views. As we crossed this pass, we slowly left the Peru of the Quechua people and entered the region of the Aymara people. Before reaching Puno, we made a quick stop in Pukara, to visit the museum there which is dedicated to the history of the Aymara people, particularly focusing on the archeological finds in the area dated back to 200BC – 200AD.
We finally reached Puno in the late hours of the afternoon, giving us enough time to have a Pisco Sour, before we bade goodbye to Peru the following day.