Riding on the Andean explorer
The Andean Explorer goes from Puno to Cusco, through the towns of Puno and Juliaca and up into the Andes. It takes about 10 hours to do the trip and is much slower than any other form of transport - but that is hardly a drawback unless time is important. It is a superbly comfortable way to travel and see the country.
We departed Puno station at 8 a.m. comfortably ensconced in our armchair seats and ready for a day of sightseeing.
It is a single track railway and the train slowly chugs through the towns, especially the markets in Juliaca which seem to go for miles and actually cover the tracks, so the train is forced to blow it's whistle continuously warning stall holders to remove their goods and themselves from the tracks as it comes through. Awnings and merchandise, small children and dogs are dangerously close to the train, but it passes without incident and to the amazement of the passengers.
Then the train settles into a steady pace as it 'steams' (it's a diesel) past lakes and farmlets, llamas and sheep and up into the mountains.
The back carriage of the train is the best. Whether it is a caboose or not, it is a great word to describe a carriage that consists of a bar with comfortable tub chairs and a viewing saloon with soft leather bench seats and huge curved viewing windows plus an open back. We spent hours here watching and photographing and getting to know other passengers.
We were also given a lesson in how to make a good Pisco sour by the barman. The Pisco sour, for those who have yet to enjoy this wonder, is a superb cocktail of Pisco, lime or lemon juice, egg white and sugar syrup and is offered as a welcome drink in many places you visit in Peru. It is also available at all bars - but sadly it is unwise to drink these at high altitude as it can make you Very Lightheaded and maybe even ill - as it did one of our party.