by Jerome au Perou
Tue Aug 21st, 2012 at 09:48:44 PM EST
From La Paz, we went back to Puno and were supposed to continue by car all the way to Cuzco. Thankfully, we managed to switch that part of the trip to the daily train between the two cities, the Andean Explorer.
Our first views of the train in Puno, after waiting a short while in the cozy train station in Puno:
and the inside of the train itself:
The train left Puno to follow the shore of Lake Titicaca, passing right by the place where we had done our kayaking and karting a week ago, and by the first steam boat on the lake:
The train reached a leisurely speed of 50km/h or so, and after a while we reached the city of Juliaca, which we crossed. As the railway is not used much, it's become a street market, which needs to be temporarily abandoned as the train goes through. We passed inches form the stands of the markets, over literally hundreds of meters:
As it was rather cold in the morning, and the train not heated, we did not move around for a while, and only discovered a little bit later that the last wagon was an open platform... It would have been fun to see the market from that point of view, but we sadly di not do it:
Soon, we were leaving the flat countryside around lake Titicaca and going through the altiplano, upwards (the train starts at 3,800m and goes up to 4,300m before going down to roughly 3,100m)
And it was time for an early lunch, in style:
At around noon, we reached the highest point of the trip, which is also roughly the halfway point in the trip, and paused at a small station ith its inevitable local market (the main road also stops there, so cars and buses also stop there, they can additionally enjoy the show provided by the train). Anyway, it was time to take pictures of the train in full (and I'll let the specialists tell us which kind of loco this is...)
... and begin the spectacular descent towards Cuzco:
Not long after the pass, we stopped at another way station to cross the train going in the other direction. I only thought of going to the platform a bit late, and the other train was already receding in the distance when I got there...
Most of the descent follows a river, and as we go down the land gets obviously plusher and richer.
We reached Cuzco after about 10 hours (the train never moved much from its 50km/h speed, whether gong up or down, and it's 380km to go) - a much pleasanter trip, if slower, than if we had taken the parallel road.