Monday, June 17, 2013

Dream Destination -Andean Explorer Train Full Journey from Puno to Cusco

This spectacular rail journey begins in the beautiful city of Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca and travels North to historic Cuzco (Cusco) On the journey, the train makes a gentle climb to higher, and cooler, altitudes. The first half of the journey is dominated by the magnificent Andean mountains which towers over the deep valleys of the meandering Huatanay River. It then reaches the gentler, rolling Andean Plains, where vicuña and alpaca can be seen. If travelling aboard the Andean Explorer, the glass-walled observation car provides the perfect opportunity to view the beautiful scenery. The journey is broken by a scenic stop at La Raya, which is also the highest point on the route. Train journey between Cuzco (Cusco) and Lake Titicaca (or vice versa), three-course lunch. In additional to the complimentary lunch a Breakfast Menu, along with various snacks and a continuous Restaurant and Bar service is available at an additional cost.  

JOURNEY Juliaca is the first stop on this journey through Andean highland culture after departing Puno (3,855 meters), an expanding, low-roofed university town spread around an austere cathedral, which, since its foundation in 1668, has strengthened its tenuous grip on the shores of Lake Titicaca by gradually scaling the surrounding hills. 
 281 Km from Cusco - the train reaches Juliaca, a commercial railway-junction town of around 150,000 inhabitants, whose rampant buying and selling seems at times to virtually spill onto the tracks and force the train to pick its way through their stalls. 
186 Km from Cusco - at Marangani, where an English-style manor house built in the last century is still home to the descendents of the wool barons who established the regions only textile factory there more than one hundred years ago, Cuzco's fertile hills give way to the high plain known as the Altiplano. The train continues to climb for another 27 Km, past the thermal baths at Aguas Calientes to La Raya, 
210 Km from Puno. At 4,321 meters above sea level this is the highest point on the journey, a cold, remote place whose surrounding snow-draped peaks are often shrouded by mist or fine rain, and whose eerie silence is at least partly attributable to eardrums blocked by the dizzying altitude. Crossing this great watershed, the train travels across a sea of seemingly-endless coarse grassland through villages lost to time for all but the Coca Cola company and local breweries. 
120 Km from Cusco - at Raqchi, just before the San Pedro railway station, the remains of the great temple of Viracocha, the creator god, can just be seen to the left of the train. Raqchi has been described by John Hemming as "probably the largest roofed building ever built by the Incas". Seventeen km beyond San Pedro, the train stops at Sicuani, a bustling island of commerce amid a barren landscape. Aymara women ferry their goods around this important market town on nimbly-chauffeured taxi-tricycles, or sit impassively before their wares awaiting a buyer. 
80 Km from Cusco - the two villages of Cusipata and Checacupe (at 99 km) hide unexpected treasures of both pre-Columbian and colonial origin, from fine Inca and pre-Inca remains, to yet another ornately-decorated 17th century church. 
59 Km from Cusco - at Urcos lies the lake which gives the village its name. Urcos is both a popular spot for weekenders from Cuzco (Cusco) and as local legend suggests, the repository of Inca gold hidden there forever by local chieftains, anxious to prevent the Spanish from melting down their sacred objects. 
 45 Km from Cusco - the church at Andahuaylillas is one of the jewels in Cuzco's colonial crown and boasts a magnificent series of murals and superb colonial-era paintings, all on diverse religious themes. 40 Km from Cusco - at Rumicolca, we are close to the great stone gateway of the same name which, for the Incas, silently guarded the southern approach to Cuzco (Cusco). For the much earlier Wari culture it served as an aqueduct, channeling water from the picturesque Laguna de Lucre to their walled city at Pikillacta. 
32 Km from Cusco - before reaching Lake Muina, the train turns to the left, crossing the valley road, to join the Vilcanota River at Huambutio as it plunges sharply into its gorge before widening into the great Urubamba canyon.  
25 Km from Cusco - the train passes through Oropesa, an early-rising community whose forty-seven bakeries have provided Cuzco (Cusco) with its daily bread for generations. 

I wish someday I will be able to visit such a lovely place.  

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