Backpacking across the Andes Ollantaytambo Peru

Backpacking across the Andes – #14: On the road from Puno to Ollantaytambo (Peru)

After a crazy boat ride on an angry Titicaca lake and a short night of sleep in the city of Puno, we were ready to continue our adventure towards Cusco and then Ollantaytambo… We were now in Peru!

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WHAT AN ADVENTURE TO GET TO CUSCO

FIRST TRY: BY TRAIN

We woke up early that day as we were planning on taking the 8 o’clock train from Puno to Ollantaytambo. Unfortunately, when we arrived at the train station, we found out that there were no more seats available! Of course we had not bought the tickets in advance… We were pretty disappointed at first but then we realized that it would have been very expensive (the ticket cost about 150 euros) and the ride would have lasted 10 hours…

SECOND TRY: BY BUS

So we hurried to the bus station to take a bus instead. There were dozens of companies selling tickets to Cusco… Which one should we choose? And we had to hurry as the buses were about to leave. We found one that looked more professional and that made stops, to visit some little villages on the way: Inka Express. We decided to travel with this company. We remembered that in Chile, the 12-hour ride with NO stop whatsoever had been VERY long so we were happy with this option.

IMPOSSIBLE TO PAY BY CARD

But when the moment to pay came, we were told that credit cards were not accepted! As we had just arrived the night before from Bolivia, we had no Soles (the Peruvian currency)…

Never mind, we would quickly go to the ATM machine and come back…

Make sure you have Peruvian Soles (the local currency) upon enterring Peru because most of the time your credit card will not be accepted and it is not easy to find cash machines!

BOTH ATM MACHINES WERE OUT OF ORDER!

Well there were only two ATM machines in the station and they were both out of order! It seemed there was no end to our bad luck! And now the bus was about to leave (the next buses would not leave until the next morning)! After a ten-minute negotiation, the lady from the travel agency agreed to let us get in the bus; we would just have to pay upon arriving at their agency in Cusco. Yes! We ran to the bus and started our journey towards the beautiful Cusco.

FINALLY WE GET ON THE BUS

The bus was very comfortable and we were treated like kings and queens! There was a driver, a guide and a stewardess taking care of us! We were offered drinks during the whole ride, as well as precise explanations about the sites that we were visiting on our way. We were very happy to have chosen this company and most importantly that they let us in without paying…

FROM A DESERT TO A LUXURIOUS MOUNTAIN LANDSCAPE

The landscapes were stunning! Once again, we could not stop taking pictures from the window! During the first part of the ride, we were in a dry desert. The sky was blue and the mountains were in a beautiful brown shade. During the second part of the ride, the landscape radically changed. There was much more vegetation, the climate was more humid and there were many clouds. We were ready to explore the various sites on the way…

FROM PUNO TO OLLANTAYTAMBO

STROLLING AROUND THE LITTLE TOWN OF PUKARA

Our first stop was at a colorful little village called Pukara. With its lovely church from the colonial era and its little streets flanked by adobe houses, this town was really beautiful.

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TRYING THE TAKE PICTURES THROUGH THE WINDOW

We then hopped back into the bus and were fascinated by the landscapes.

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PASSING BY A GLACIER

We then stopped at a place called La Raya. It was the highest point of the ride with an altitude of about 4 335 meters and we had a beautiful view on a glacier.

We then had lunch in a close-by buffet restaurant. Everything was included in our bus ticket. We thought that everything was very well organized.

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VISITING THE TEMPLE OF VIRACOCHA

We then made a stop to visit the temple of the god Viracocha, from whom we had already heard about in Bolivia. When we reached the temple, we had the feeling that we had been transported to the South of Italy! The temple somehow looked like a roman aqueduct and the landscape reminded us of Tuscany! But we were in Peru, facing an Inca temple!

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WALKING ON AN INCA BRIDGE

We made a quick stop at a little town called Checacupe to discover an Inca bridge (that had been reconstructed of course) and which proved to be very resistant as we could use it to cross the river.

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VISITING THE SIXTINE CHAPEL OF AMERICA

We made a final stop in a little village where we visited one of the most beautiful churches that we had seen in our lives! It is nicknamed the Sistine Chapel of America because it is so richly decorated. It is lovely from the outside, but inside, it is amazing! Unfortunately we were not allowed to take pictures inside.

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ARRIVING IN CUSCO

We arrived in Cusco at about 6pm after a long day on the road. We had planned to go directly to Ollantaytambo where we had booked a room for a few nights so our day was not over yet! But first we had to pay the travel agency of course! At first they told us that we could not pay by credit card because the machine did not work… So they tried to explain to us where to find an ATM machine and surprisingly it was very far away! For a country where you have to pay everything by cash, we found it strange that there were so few ATM machines… Anyway, as we were leaving the agency to go and withdraw money, the lady ran after us, telling us that the machine was finally working! Thank you!

FROM CUSCO TO OLLANTAYTAMBO

From there we jumped into a taxi that took us to Ollantaytambo. Unfortunately, the traffic was very bad at that time of the day and the ride seemed to last for hours. What’s more I was starting to feel sick with a cold… All I wanted was to be in a warm bed. Instead we were following a mountain road with many curves…

We finally arrived at the lovely and cozy hotel that we had booked and I went straight to bed! I was coming so close to my dream, Machu Pichu, and now I was getting sick and exhausted… I was frustrated! So we spent one day doing absolutely nothing but rest, we bought some vitamins and I started to feel better!

Continue reading

  • Next stop: Ollantaytambo. Click here to read the article.
  • All articles about this country: click here to see all articles about Peru.
  • All articles about this trip: click here to read see all articles about this backpacking trip across the Andes (Chile – Bolivia – Peru).
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2 Comments

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