Peru 4: Puno and Lake Titicaca

Ang and Simon again woke early, pulled on their backpacks and went out to the street. They hailed a passing taxi and were driven to the Peru train rail station.

There, along with about 15 other Exclusive Race teams, they boarded the Andean Explorer, a luxury rail experience operated in partnership with the Orient Express company. This train journey takes passengers through the stunning Andean mountains to the city of Puno, high on the shores of Lake Titicaca.

Classy interior of the Cuzco to Puno train

Simon and Ang’s tasks were to enjoy the luxury, eat delicious food, watch performances of traditional folk music and take photos of the countryside and people on and around the tracks.

The in-locomotion entertainment Mothers of all pan pipes

The train’s route passed through the suburbs of Cuzco and up the Andes to a 4300m high pass where they briefly stopped to take pictures and bargain for some locally spun llama wool handicrafts. Ang was able to net a fine baby llama wool scarf bargain. The train then descended slightly as it made its way through pastures filled with alpacas and llamas and the occasional busy market town.

The engine High altitude stop to shop and take in the thin air
Friendly Peruvian road workers Little wooly Llama
Markets, On train line! Stalls built right up to the carriage line
Two kids wave the train on Friendly Peruvian fisherman
Southern Peruvian landscape

During this journey, Simon was tasked with mixing the perfect Pisco Sour in front of all other passengers. This was not an easy task as the whole train rocked, making it hard to complete a steady pour. Simon persevered and after completing the mix was awarded the next clue by the bar tender and he also got to drink his handiwork.

Simon sampling the pisco sour he just made as part of the mix a drink on a moving train challenge The view from the open back of the train

The next clue required the team to visit the Uros Islands, artificial floating reed islands that lay off the coastline from Puno. However hours of operation were 9am to 5pm, so once they arrived in Puno they found suitable accommodation for the night and tried to stay dry during several mighty downpours.

That evening, Simon and Ang met up with another team from Australia who consisted of a Russian chick and Welsh guy, and had been on the Cuzco to Puno train journey. Maria and Tony had been given the same next challenge, so over dinner they hatched a plan to join forces for the next day to negotiate a boat to the floating islands.

Early the next afternoon the team boarded a classic lake cruiser for the 30 minute ride to the islands. Once there they were given a brief talk in Spanish about how the islands are constructed. The team walked around the spongy islands and were asked by the five families to view their wares.

 

Simon enjoying the sun on lake titicaca as the team head to the floating island challenge Simon and Ang lounge inside of their slow boat to the floating islands
The teams are shown how the islands are constructed The floating village

Both teams completed their short stay on the island and were given their next clue. They raced back to the Plaza de Armas, were both teams were first to arrive at the pit stop for this leg of the race.

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