27
DAYS

Rally of the Incas 2016

November 13 - December 9, 2016

DAY
22

DECEMBER 4, 2016

Puno to Cusco

The Route of the Sun?

With supreme irony today's route traced the so called Route of the Sun from Puno all of the way to the ancient Inca capital city of Cusco. But today, we awoke to a temperature of 8°c, rain which had forgotten to stop following the overnight downpour, and low cloud threatening even more. 

With these conditions afoot, and with Christmas decorations and festive songs playing in the lobby of the Libertador, those of us from the northern hemisphere felt right at home.

Once we’d pulled out of Puno, with Titicaca behind us, we struck north to the town of Juliaca which was a seething frenzy of rickshaws, road works and food markets. Crews in the open cars found themselves once again in the thick of local culture as vegetables, chickens and that peculiar local delicacy, guinea pigs, were traded right over their bonnets.

Leaving this fascinating but busy town, via the flamingo festooned Laguna de Chacas, came as something of a relief and soon we arrived in the relatively deserted village of Lampa, which we entered via an impressive town arch. Wide and empty boulevards led us to the first and indeed the only regularity of the day on the Pico Mocco. Rising to 4100 m, velvety smooth tarmac and countless curves pushed the crews onwards to the Time Control in Pucara for a quick coffee and a glance at the online weather forecast to check the conditions for the next section.

The Abra la Raya at 4338 m, marks the divide between the Puno and Cusco regions of Peru, and the carretera 3s, the road to the summit, also known locally as Apu Chimboya can be closed by snow at any time of the year.

From the now familiar barren Altiplano on the way up, the way down saw us passing through fertile farming country with stands of trees making sporadic appearances as we steadily lost height.

A long drag took us to the next Time Control in Feliphon, alongside the Cordillera Vilcanot, where a welcome hot lunch had been laid on by the organisers mindful of the paucity of decent eating establishments in these remote parts.

By the time we arrived at the night halt though, any worries about finding good eating establishments had been wiped from our minds. Cusco is sophisticated and cosmopolitan and, with the cars safely parked in their own secure compound the crews began the job of relaxing.

For the next three nights we’re billeted in the luxurious lap of the Belmond Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery - as its name suggests - as the Rally has been given two rest days here to enjoy the sights and unique culture of the area including the amazing citadel of Machu Picchu.

Syd Stelvio

 

 

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