We take our time to travel from Ayacucho to Cusco, through great Andean landscape and the local towns of Andahuaylas and Abancay.
Some time ago, we have decided that we are too old for very long bus journeys. But we still want to travel overland, as much as possible, to admire the scenery and experience the local culture, something rather a lot more difficult to do from an airplane. So instead of a 15-hour bus ride from Ayacucho to Cusco, we take a few days, using a variety of minibuses and shared taxis to get to Andahuaylas and Abancay, on the way.
Along the way, mountains and valleys, and quite a lot of cultivation; on the steep slopes are lots of patches that support vegetable growth. Quite possibly potatoes, Peru has more than 3000 varieties, apparently. Some of the harvest has been collected in big bags along the road, ready to be transported. At times we are still pretty high, perhaps just over 4000 meters, but the countryside here is more populated than earlier, when we drove across the high passes to Ayacucho. Towns and villages are more numerous; and we see many more people, almost exclusively women, dressed in traditional cloths, hat and often colourful dress.
We overnight in Andahuaylas, a nondescript town at 3000 meters, on the banks of the River Chamboo, a quite sizable stream containing lots of muddy water. It is rainy season, after all, and although we have so far been lucky with the weather, elsewhere it has been pouring down. The highlight of town is not the Plaza de Armas, this time, but a rather underwhelming bridge from colonial times. Yet, wandering around town is fun, seeing people going about doing their business.
Next day we continue to Abancay, equally nondescript, and equally fun. Beautiful road again, except that in order to enjoy the views of the mountain valleys you really need to sit on the left. I sat on the right. In town friendly people, and a bar that broadcasts Champions League football.
The final leg to Cusco we do by shared taxi, from which we buy the three back seats for the two of us, which makes traveling a lot more comfortable. Once again we cross a 4000 m pass, and descend down into the valley, before we reach Cusco. Took us three days to get here, but we enjoyed the scenery, and the non-touristic stops on the way, which provides a different insight in Peruvian life. Cusco, no doubt, will be different…
or, next, read about the Incas first.