Saturday, 19 October 2013

Cusco to Puno by rail

This was always going to be a highlight of our adventure, It's one of the few train journeys in South America, and this did not disappoint.
We arrived at the Peru Rail station at about 7am, we had to be there at 7.30 for the 8am train, we checked our luggage which was taken onto the train by porter, then we boarded. We had brilliant seats, just the 2 of us, facing forward, posh table cloth, lamp, and a menu, lunch and afternoon tea were included but breakfast was not. As we didn't have time for breakfast this morning we ordered the breakfast, loads of toast, eggs how you like them, orange juice, coffee and jam, all brought out on china and with silverware. 
The train moves quite slowly, which is nice as you can enjoy the scenery (the same 10 hour train journey takes 6 by coach), the train had just 5 seat carriages, then a dining carriage with a glass roofed and oped backed rear. 
There was an alpaca (naturally) fashion show about 4 hours into the journey with a free Pisco sour, followed by a Cusco based Peruvian band and dancers, then cocktail making lessons (Pisco sour), followed by a Puno based band with dancers. 
It did feel like we were on a saga holiday, with the majority of the passengers over 70, but it was brilliant fun and our new friends from the Inca Trail, Rosie and Darren were also on the train. 
Riding along the rails we passed villages where people were standing outside waving to us, the train stopped at a market (this is not a busy route; one train a day, 3 days a week in high season, 2 days a week in low season). 
In Juliaca the train line is literally running straight through the market, the stall holders move their canopies back to let the train through, in some cases leaving their wares on the track, then moving it all back over the tracks. It took us a good 20 minutes to move about 5km, with the driver blaring the horn to get them to move out of the way. 
There were some funny characters on the train, including one woman who was 83 and was Canadian (and made sure everyone knew it, including wearing a t-shirt with Canada across the front, and an older bloke, had to be in his 60's who practically stood at the back of the train the whole journey, taking photos of everything!
Finally we arrived in Puno. It was sad to leave the train, as expensive as it was (thanks VCCP for those token shares 6 years ago!) we really think it was worth it.

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