During my travels around South America, I crossed of many of my reasons to visit South America, like the Stargazing in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and a tour of the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. After my visit to La Paz and Lake Titicaca, it was now time for my last highlight of the trip: head to Cusco and explore Machu Picchu. But I was still in Puno and roughly 400 km away from Cusco. If you want to travel from Puno to Cusco you can fly from Julianca to Cusco in less than an hour. You can take the luxurious train or you can take the bus. A normal bus runs during the night in different price ranges. I decided to opt for the cultural bus trip from Puno to Cusco instead.
Cultural Bus Trip from Puno to Cusco
This bus trip from Puno to Cusco runs every day and takes you in a luxurious bus from Puno to Cusco in 10,5 hours. It will cost you all day, but you travel in a relaxed pace and you get to see all kinds of cultural sites along the way. The bus stops at 6 different places along the route before they drop you off in Cusco.
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Details for the Ruta del Sol / Route of the Sun
This bus trip from Puno to Cusco is also called Ruta del Sol (the route of the Sun). I’ll give you some details below:
- Departure time Puno: 7.00 am
- Arrival time Cusco: 5.30 pm
- Price for the bus ticket from Puno to Cusco: $45.
You can also buy your ticket with the entrance fees already included. This is $61.
- Price for the entrance fees along the Ruta del Sol: 40 Peruvian Soles.
Entrance to Pukara: 10 Soles. Entrance Raqchi: 15 Soles. Ticket for Andahuaylillas: 15 Soles. The guide asked us to pay the 40 Soles up front to him, to prevent any delays.
I travelled with Wonder Peru Expedition but there are many other agents out there. We received information on the bus about the stops, how much time we had and we received some beverages on the bus too. Our guide joined us and spoke excellent English (exactly!) and provided us with a lot of background information.
The bus also runs in the opposite direction so you can travel by bus from Cusco to Puno.
Why take this cultural bus trip in Peru?
When I first planned my trip to Peru, I wanted to take the train journey from Puno to Cusco. I love to travel by train but the schedule was not in my favour and the train journey was quite expensive. Plus you get to sit on the train for over 12 hours, and miss all the fantastic sites along the route.
I never expected this bus trip from Puno to Cusco to be that much fun. Yes, I am a bit of a culture geek and I love to learn about ancient history and culture.
I felt I was not getting enough cultural input during my first 2 weeks in South America. This was mainly because I was focusing on outdoor activities *read my epic
fail hike in the Colca Canyon and the wonders of nature from Chile and Bolivia. I missed the learning part a bit.
Want to read more about bus travel in South America? Read about my bus journey from Peru to Chile.
Relaxed way to travel around Peru
The bus trip from Puno to Cusco was very relaxed. All I had to do was show up on time in Puno and follow the herd. I know, not very adventurous but it was exactly what I needed. A guide accompagnied us and he dished out all his knowledge to the group, which I absorbed like sponge.
We visited different archaeological sites and ruins from the Ayamara, Quechua, Pukará and Inca culture. This was the perfect built up for the things to come in Cusco and Machu Picchu. To be honest, each different site along the bus route from Puno to Cusco, isn’t really worth a day trip. But…
… because they were strung along and we visited each for a short time, it was perfect to get a bit of a feel and vibe from the place.
Are you getting excited to take the bus from Puno to Cusco when you travel around Peru? I’ll tell you what you’ll see and visit during this cultural bus trip from Puno to Cusco.
Puno 3.827m / 12.555 ft. above sea level
I had to be at the Puno bus station at 6.30 am because the bus was leaving at 7.00 am. I took a taxi to the bus station and showed my ticket. I got on the bus which was absolutely freezing. Puno gets very cold at night and the bus still needed to heat up. I selected a nice spot by the window. The bus wasn’t full so this was an excellent way to travel. We would travel first for an hour or two, so I might have dozed off a bit here and there.
Pucará 3.900m / 12.795 ft. above sea level
The first stop was the town of Pucará, 3.900m/ 12.795 ft. above sea level.
Lithic Museum Pucará
We first stopped at the Lithic Museum of Pucará where we saw an immense time line to put the whole reign of the culture of the Pucará in world’s history perspective.
The museum is small but shows some gruelling statues of decapitation which was common during the reign of the Pucará. They believed, if you decapitate your enemy, his strength will transvers into you.
Ruins of Kalassaya
After we exited through the gift shop, we left the village behind and explored the ruins of Kalassaya, a little outside Pucará. I found this mighty interesting as this was basically my first encounter with ancient ruins of South America and pre-Inca culture.
The ruins of the old town of Pucará are dated from 1.800 years BC. This was the reign of the Pukara culture and was the focus of the administration and religion.
The main thing to see is the ruins of the Kalassaya pyramid and the staircase. There is also a sunken court, but you need a lot of imagination to picture what might have happened there. All in all a great site with striking views of the small town of Pucará below and the Route of the Sun alongside it.
For more info, visit pukara.org
La Raya 4.335m / 14.222 ft. above sea level
There isn’t much to see or do at La Raya, but this is the highest point on this bus trip from Puno to Cusco. Local people have set up some things you can buy and you can get a picture with the altitude sign. Always nice to have proof of where you’ve been.
The surrounding area is striking though.
High in the mountains, the river beneath it, the snow covered peaks and the railway tracks approaching the gorge. This is a great point to stretch your legs!
Sicuani 3.540m / 11.614 ft. above sea level
Another stop on your bus trip from Puno to Cusco. A person got to eat of course. As you’re travelling as a tourist, you’ll be dropped off at a tourist restaurant where you’ll be served the tourist lunch menu for tourist prices. There isn’t anything else around to wonder off on your own, so I took the opportunity for a toilet break and waited for the bus to leave again.
Raqchi 3.450m / 11.319 ft. above sea level
After this, things got really exciting as we approached Raqchi. Raqchi is about 110 km from Cusco and I can recommend this as a day trip. We had little time as our tour guide guided us through the main ruins, but the complex is massive and I wish I would have had more time to wonder off and explore on my own.
But then again, if I hadn’t been on this cultural bus trip from Puno to Cusco, I wouldn’t have known about it.
So, what is so great about Raqchi in Peru?
The ruins of Raqchi show you the remains of the Temple of Wiracocha (or Virachocha), the main Inca god of creation. He was the god of the sun, the moon and civilisation.
His temple remains can be seen at the archaeological site of Raqchi, where you’ll see the adobe wall of the temple and many administration houses. In the hills overlooking the ruins, you’ll see the ancient Inca trail.
As Raqchi was an important religious Inca site, it was highly protected and the people here were monks, high priest and other noble men and guards.
The sky was striking blue, the grass turned the yellow of autumn. As the sun was blistering down on our little group, I saw history unfold before me. I looked up to the remains of the massive temple of Wiracocha and imagined what is was like in the 15th century.
Andahuaylillas 3.093m / 10.147 ft. above sea level
After such a great complex of ruins, we moved to more modern times when we visited the church of the tiny town of Andahuaylillas. The church is referred to as the Sistine Chapel of South America, and although it was very beautiful and the frescos were vibrant, it doesn’t really compare.
But it was a nice church, and again I learned a lot about this cultural history. We learned that after the Spanish conquest, painters from Europe, educated local artists to make the same religious paintings in the new churches.
As the Peruvian artists had never seen European churches or art, they adapted their own style and form. Our guide showed us the key elements of catholic religion intertwined with the local Pachamama culture.
More info on Andahuaylillas.
We were not allowed to take any pictures inside the church, but we received a DVD with information and pictures. With your entrance ticket to Andahuaylillas you can also visit the churches of Huaro and Canincuna. These are part of the “Ruta del Barroco Andino“ and with your ticket, you’ll help the social projects of these churches and the region.
Cusco 3.400m / 11.155 ft. above sea level
After the last stop on our bus trip from Puno to Cusco, we headed to Cusco. No more stopping until we reached the bus terminal of the tour company where I took a taxi downtown. We did see one more unique thing on the bus.
As we approached the Cusco Valley, the driver slowed down the bus, so we could all see the ancient Inca gate way to the Cusco Valley and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The last sun beams of the day flowed through the holes in the ruins, giving it a magic spell.
Are you looking for something relaxed to do in Cusco after such a long day? Check out my post about the Chocolate Museum in Cusco.
This cultural bus trip from Puno to Cusco was over, but I never imagined it to be that much fun. I learned a lot about pre-Inca culture and Inca culture. And I learned about the adaptation of the Catholic religion from local Pachamama culture and I saw beautiful scenery along the way.
I was very happy to take this bus tour in Peru and I hope I peaked your interest to consider this journey by bus if you travel from Lake Titicaca to Cusco or the other way around.
Have you travelled from Cusco to Puno? At what site would you like to spend more time? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.
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