We awoke very early the morning of May 6th and were provided breakfast at the resort before we left in the van to Puno (funny no one joined us at that hour). We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Lago Titilaka Resort- it is a world-class resort. Lake Titicaca is definitely a place anyone should visit if they are coming to Peru. It retains much more of a traditional feel and is extremely peaceful and relaxing. The expansive views are in a word… calming! We were looking for solace after our trek and we found it. To be honest, I was not looking forward to the 10 hour bus ride back to Cusco. However, it proved to be quite an enjoyable and informative trip. It was well organized and we had an excellent guide along the way. Several stops were planned breaking up the monotony of the bus ride.
1). Pukara 3900 m:
Pukara was the first regional population center in the northern Lake Titicaca Basin during the Late Formative Period (500 BC- AD 200), providing valuable insights into the origins of Andean civilization in the highlands. During its peak it covered over a square kilometer and housed thousands of bureaucrats, priests, artisans, farmers, herders, and possibly warriors. The Pukara style is identified by impressive monolithic sculptures with a variety of geometric, zoomorphic, and anthropomorphic images plus intricate, multi-colored pottery in a variety of ritual and domestic forms. We stopped at a very interesting museum which gave us a much better appreciation of pre-Inca civilization. There was also a beautiful church to take photographs of (inside and out).
2). Raya Pass 4335 m:
Abra La Raya (La Raya Pass) is the watershed between the valley that drains into Lake Titicaca and the valley that leads down to Cusco and to the Sacred Valley. The altitude is 4335 m (14,232 feet). We stopped briefly and Anna got her fix with the numerous vendors waiting for the buses at the crest of the pass. I grabbed a quick shot of the snow covered mountains.
3). Sicuani Lunch Buffet 3552 m:
Sicuani is a relatively large highland town. The town is a major intersection, with the road to Puno/Arequipa passing through here. This town is surrounded by some very pretty hills. Upon stopping we had a buffet lunch in an exclusive restaurant with family atmosphere. Again, there was more shopping.
4). Raqchi “the Temple of Wiracocha” 3450 m:
The most important building inside the complex is the “Wiracocha temple” that according to the old chroniclers was built by the Inca Wiracocha in honour to the Superior God invisible for the Andean people: “Apu Kon Titi Wiracocha”. The “temple of Wiracocha” is a great example of architecture for that age. Architectonically it is classified as “Kallanka”, that is, a high building completely covered with straw (wood and “ichu”). Externally it is 92 meters long (302 feet) and 25.25 meter wide (83 feet). This was a fascinating area and we took the opportunity to grab some photographs of the amazing architectural structures.
5). Andahuaylillas “The Sistine Chapel of America” 3122 m:
The church of San Pedro Apostol de Andahuaylillas, built by the Jesuits in the 16th century is found here. Like other Spanish and religious constructions of the time, it was built on top of a huaca, or sacred place for the Incas. Made out of adobe and brick, the church is a small structure consisting of one nave, apse and bell tower. But there’s a reason why it’s known as the Sistine Chapel of America. The inside of this church is perhaps the most beautiful I have ever seen. Unfortunately pictures were not allowed so if you wish to see it you will just have to make your own way here. Trust me, it is worth it! Anna was able to pick up some wall art from a painter who was in attendance.
Just prior to coming into Cusco I was able to grab a quick photograph of the Inca gates of Cusco from the bus. The grandeur of the Inca civilization continued to amaze us. The scale of these gates was massive and it was amazing to witness the dying sunset light streaming through as we descended into Cusco. After being dropped off at the bus station we were thankful that a representative from our hotel was waiting to pick us up. We ate dinner in the hotel that evening so that we could re-pack (yet again) as we were departing Peru for Ecuador in the morning. Our experience in Peru was fantastic (personally, I am so glad I decided to come back to visit this wonderful country). What we both experienced will remain with us forever.