Route of the Sun Inka Express Bus Cusco to Puno
To get from Cusco to Puno (and back) we took the Inka Express bus for $50 each way. The bus is pretty fancy, with comfortable seats that recline, an oxygenated cabin to combat the altitude, a very tasty buffet lunch, and free refreshments on board. The bus stops at several points of interest to make the long trip more interesting. At each stop, the bus guide gives a tour in English and Spanish. Entrance fees are not included if you buy your bus ticket online, but they are included if you buy with a tour operator. Entrance fees total for one way are 40 soles. Here are the stops in Cusco to Puno order. Views from the bus are also interspersed.
Stop 1: Andahuaylillas
This over the top baroque church is called the “Sistine Chapel of America” because of the amazing frescos and gold leaf coating. Photography is not allowed, but they kindly give you a CD of interior pictures. Since I don’t have a CD drive, the pictures below are borrowed from the internet, not taken by me. The entrance fee is 15 soles for this church and the next one combined.
Stop 2: San Juan Bautista Church in Huaro
Another impressive baroque church, this one is know for its detailed murals. It also has the oldest pipe organ in the Americas. Again, pictures for this church are provided on the same CD as the first church. They’re probably great pictures, but I haven’t seen them. These ones are borrowed from the internet.
Stop 3: Checacupe
There is a neat suspension bridge over the Urubamba river and some ruins here. I walked over the bridge, mom enjoyed it from afar.
Stop 4: Raqchi
This Inca ruin is quite large and impressive, including the tall center wall of the Wiracocha temple, several ruins of smaller buildings, and a ton of circular food silos. The entrance fee is 15 soles. This was my favorite stop.
Steps built into the stone walls:
Stop 5: Sicuani Buffet Lunch
So tasty! A wide variety of food was available for lunch, definitely something for everyone. On the way there we also had entertainment from a local band. The lunch is included in the ticket, cold drinks are not.
Stop 6: La Raya Pass
This is the highest point on the trip. The altitude is 14,232 feet.
Stop 7: Pukara Museum
This museum features monolithic stone sculptures and multi-colored pottery collected from a local archaeological site. These artifacts date to 500 BC – 200 AD. The entrance fee is 10 soles. This was the last stop before arriving in Puno.
On the way we passed through the town of Juliaca, know for its smuggling. Female smugglers head across the border to Bolivia to buy all manner of items import tax free, from the mundane household goods to more illegal wares. The entire town is built on this industry.
Our ride continued on into Puno where we began our Lake Titicaca tour. I found the trip to be very relaxing and would recommend this company to others.