Through the Alto Plano: From Cusco to Puno
Sunday, December 25, 2011
On Christmas Day, we set out for the longest bus drive of the trip — about 7 hours — through the altiplano, but not before enjoying a special Christmas gift, "sleeping in" until 8 am!
The puna or altiplano (mountain highlands, altitude: 4000 - 4800 m) stretches between Cusco and Puno / Lake Titicaca as Peru's most extreme climate zone and is dominated by rolling grasslands where herds of sheep, alpaca and llama graze and mountains rise steeply from the valley.
We stopped at a combination of market and farm...
to feed llamas and alpacas...
Llamas and alpacas (camelids) were domesticated thousands of years ago. The Incas bred them for specific reasons – Llamas were mainly used to carry goods, whereas alpacas delivered wool and meat.
Alpacas are generally smaller than llamas, but the key difference between the two lies in the quality of their wool. Alpaca fibres are very soft and warm making their fleece an ideal choice for clothing material.
observe guinea pigs "cities"...
and spend more money...
In our small bus, we crossed La Raya Pass, the capital of the Altiplano area and gateway to Lake Titicaca.
Puno is known as the folklore capital of Peru. Puno’s narrow streets are filled with the sounds of the typical Andean music called saylla, the hustle and bustle of the local market, and the bell-ring of the triciclos, local bicycle taxis.
We arrived at the “Hotel Italia” and took a short walk to a local restaurant.
While we waited (a long time!) for our food, ...
Carlos sketched out a piece of art:
Quinoa dish with cheese and bacon.