Visiting the beautiful Lake Titicaca is one of the main attractions in Southern Peru and Bolivia and is easily accessible from culture soaked Cusco after your Machu Picchu adventure.
The lake is the highest navigated area of water in the world and is one of the largest. What makes the lake so attractive are the amazingly crafted Islands of Uros, created out of locally grown tortoa reed in a process that has been passed down from generation to generation.
The lake is easily accessible from Cusco and there are two primary transport options between Cusco and the principle city in the area, Puno. You can travel either by train or by bus. You can fly, but it would involve a connection in Lima.
The bus from Cusco to Puno takes between and 8 and 9 hours and makes various stops along the way at archaeological sites, as well as at rest-stops and restaurants.
The train ride is slightly longer – some 10 hours – but while the bus features first class accommodations for a vehicle of its variety, the first class accommodations on the train are significantly more opulent with lounge-chair seating, fine china and silverware used for first-rate, delicious meals, and a lookout-car, where guests can leisurely enjoy the scenery of the Peruvian highlands.
While the more luxurious train makes no stops, shorter bus ride to Puno does make several pauses along the way. Tourists traveling by bus normally enjoy bilingual guided stops at the following locations along the route:
- Andahuaylillas: known as the “Sixteenth Chapel of the Americas,” this church features an exhibition of colonial art work dating back to the XVI and XVII century. (Entrance fee: US $1.5/person)
- Raqchi: This is the temple dedicated to God Wiracocha, supreme God of the Incas. (Entrance fee: US$2/person)
- Sicuani: Here guests will be able to rest and enjoy an Andean buffet lunch
- La Raya: This is the highest point of the trip, where guests will be able to appreciate snow-peaked mountains, alpacas and the amazing scenery of the Andean countryside.
- Pukara: This is ancient archaeological complex constructed in a grand pyramidal shape dating as far back as 4,000 B.C. (entrance fee $2)
By travelling by bus, the journey normally includes snacks and on board hostess assistance.
For more cautious travelers a key advantage of bus transport is that you embark and disembark from a private bus station in both cities as opposed to a public train station.
The mode of transport you choose to take depends on your personal preference.
However many people talk about how spectacular the views are along the train route, especially as you approach Lake Titicaca.
Plan your own Peru tour. Call and chat with one of our expert travel advisors.
Jon is a contributing writer to our travel blog.