There are buses leaving every hour on the hour from Puno to Cuzco. We could have done that. But instead, we took the Inka Express.
The Inka Express turned the 6 hour bus ride into 10 hours. Sounds miserable – right? But not really. You stop at four different neat sites along the way, have a guide, plus a (horrible) buffet lunch is included. The buses have big windows, you get coca tea and water and soda, and it’s a lot more peaceful (but also a lot more expensive) than the regular bus.
Wayne and I decided it was worth it.
The owner of the Duque Inn hooked us up – we got seats 1 & 2, which are the best on the bus. We had views through the front window and through the side windows. It really is a picturesque ride, which is the reason that Wayne was able to persuade me into not taking a night bus after our nights on Lake Titicaca.
The first stop was Pucara, where we stopped at an archeological museum and saw some interesting findings and learned about the people that lived in Pucara before the Incas came and ruled it, like they did everything else. Then we stopped at La Raya, which is 4,318 meters high. Ouch. We took a few photos, saw lots of vendors. Then lunch, which had zero options for vegetarians (Okay, I lie. I ate tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce with a potato squash stew. I was starving as soon as we left.) Then, we headed over to Raqchi, where we saw the ruins of an ancient Inca settlement. It was very special as there was almost no one there, so we got some great photos and our guide told us some interesting stories about the area. Finally, we visited San Pedro Church in Andauyalillas, “the Sistine Chapel of the Americas.” It was the most incredible church I’ve visited outside of Europe (probably). It was a beautiful church with amazing murals and lots of ornate decorations painted with gold leaf – 24k. Nice.
Next, another 45 minutes on the bus and then in Cusco.
Comfy seats, chill environment, good sites, it was definitely a good decision to opt for the Inka Express over the normal bus to Cusco.