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Peru: train or bus between Cuzco and Puno?

Peru: train or bus between Cuzco and Puno?

Old Nov 1, 2005, 10:01 pm
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Peru: train or bus between Cuzco and Puno?

Please help me decide whether to take the bus or train from Puno (Lake Titicaca) to Cuzco. There is no plane service, btw. The train runs 3 days per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. It is part of the Orient Express organization. There is an observation car, and lunch is included. It stops at La Raya for the view. It costs $119.

The bus leaves Cusco at 07:30am and stops at Andahualliyas to visit the "Andean Sistine Chapel", then the Viracocha temple at Rajchi. Then after a buffet lunch at Sicuani, there is a stop at "la Raya", the highest point of the journey at over 4300 metres above sea level, to take in the view of the snow-capped Andes mountain range. Then it descends to the Altiplano region and stops at Pukara, the capital city of this Pre-Inca culture. Then the coach arrives at Puno at 5:20pm. The cost of this bus is U$30per person.

Has anyone taken one or the other? What is more compelling - the comfort of the train or the stops that the bus makes?
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 10:26 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
Please help me decide whether to take the bus or train from Puno (Lake Titicaca) to Cuzco. There is no plane service, btw. The train runs 3 days per week, on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday. It is part of the Orient Express organization. There is an observation car, and lunch is included. It stops at La Raya for the view. It costs $119.

The bus leaves Cusco at 07:30am and stops at Andahualliyas to visit the "Andean Sistine Chapel", then the Viracocha temple at Rajchi. Then after a buffet lunch at Sicuani, there is a stop at "la Raya", the highest point of the journey at over 4300 metres above sea level, to take in the view of the snow-capped Andes mountain range. Then it descends to the Altiplano region and stops at Pukara, the capital city of this Pre-Inca culture. Then the coach arrives at Puno at 5:20pm. The cost of this bus is U$30per person.

Has anyone taken one or the other? What is more compelling - the comfort of the train or the stops that the bus makes?

Yes, Take the train and buy a seat, or maybe two, in the premium car. Admittedly it has been quite a few years since I did it. At the time the tickets were so inexpensive that it was worth it to buy two seats as they were bench type seats for two people each. As to the stops, I can not comment on the bus, but at one stop on the train they locked us in the train car on the basis that it was to dangerous to get out! Just reread your post and can say that the train was no Orient Express operation when we did it about 15 years ago and the tickets were more like $19 not $119.
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Old Nov 1, 2005, 10:29 pm
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Originally Posted by ned
..the tickets were more like $19 not $119.
There is a backpackers service on the same train for $17.

So you think that the train is safer than the bus?
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 12:09 am
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Locals prefer the bus

Buses are faster, and have more departures. The reason why trains depart only three times a week is that once the road was widened and paved, buses and private cars became the best choice. Thus, demand for train service has plummeted. Trains are still more comfortable...

Regarding safety, buses are generally safe, but trains are safest (almost no accidents).
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 12:32 am
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Talking

"There is no plane service, btw."

There sure is plane service - to Juliaca - a 30min to 1hr drive north of Puno. I know Lan and others do this from Cuzco, nonstop or with stops in either Lima or Arequipa.

You can't get off but if weather is clear this can be a very scenic flight. Did it from Cuzco returning to Lima a few years ago.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 2:13 am
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You are right re the flight. My 2004 Frommers Peru says "Flights from Cusco to Juliaca were suspended." However, I looked just now on www.lan.com, and there is a daily flight.

Still, I'm interested in train versus bus as I understand that the route through the Andes is stunningly beautiful.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 2:46 am
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I took the bus last year. Didn't feel unsafe one bit, and I found the stops kinda interesting. It's a long ride, though.
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Old Nov 2, 2005, 6:12 pm
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We took the "Orient Express" train about 4 years ago, right after it started up. At that time we paid $30 for the tickets that included lunch. The views were breathtaking for the first half of the trip and, since we only traveled about 30 miles per hour, we enjoyed the open observation car and got some fantastic pictures of the Andes. The huge windows and the comfortable seats were great. We stopped at 14,000 feet and did some "shopping" at the impromtu market along the rail tracks. The last part of the day did seem very long as the views closer to Puno were not remarkable and the 13 hour trip was pretty long.

This year I am planning to go back to Peru and will again make a trek from Cusco to Puno. I'm planning to take one of the busses this time, primarily because the cost of the train is so much higher now, and because I'd like to do the trek in a lot less time.
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Old Nov 6, 2005, 11:35 pm
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Taking the train or bus in sounds like a fab visual treat. I can take one One World flight (2 sectors - there and back - on my xONEx) from Buenos Aires and would love to go to Cuzco. I was assuming I would fly to Lima and then buy a return to Cuzco from there but if I can have a 12-ish hour bus or train journey with great views by going elsewhere I'd love that. Any advice?
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Old Nov 6, 2005, 11:49 pm
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Originally Posted by manar
Taking the train or bus in sounds like a fab visual treat. I can take one One World flight (2 sectors - there and back - on my xONEx) from Buenos Aires and would love to go to Cuzco. I was assuming I would fly to Lima and then buy a return to Cuzco from there but if I can have a 12-ish hour bus or train journey with great views by going elsewhere I'd love that. Any advice?
You can fly into Juliaca and return from Cuzco, taking the train between. Juliaca is the airport closest to Puno and Lake Titicaca. The Silluastani towers, ancient funereal towers dating back to pre-inca times, are close to Juliaca Airport. From Puno, you can take an all day boat trip to the island's of Uros and Taquile on Lake Titicaca. Uros is an island made by people weaving reeds together. It sounds quite fascinating.
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Old Nov 14, 2005, 4:51 pm
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I did the train (from Cuzco to Puno) in 1998. I think it was $70 at the time for the first class service. The advantage is you can get up and walk around, and then when the train stops in stations you can reach out the window and buy stuff. The bus is now faster (6 hrs vs 8), and cheaper than the train. We paid about $20 for the nonstop bus from Puno to Cuzco earlier this year, the bus service was very comfortable.
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Old Jan 26, 2006, 11:02 am
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In our planning for our April 05 trip, the question became, why Puno? The goal for us was to see Lake Titcaca, of course. Since time was short, we took a flight from Cusco to LaPaz. A driver and guide met us there (Crillon Tours ^ ) and drove us to a hotel on the Bolivia side Lake Titcaca. We had an awesome experience. Besides, we flew over the entire length of the lake. We spent a night at the lakeside hotel which offered some unusual tours/experiences and a second night on Sun Island, the birthplace of the Incas. Bolivia also has Tiwanaku, far more ancient than Machu Picchu. I'm sure I'm too late to help the OP, but others should consider going to Bolivia. To me, it was more authentic than the tourist oriented Peru that we saw.
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