Trains, Planes & Automobiles: How to Access Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is now more accessible than ever thanks to new train routes linking Cusco, Puno and Arequipa. To help guests navigate the multitude of transportation choices, Titilaka has compiled a helpful pdf outlining all access options for travelers arriving from Bolivia or within Peru.  The pdf, featured in their latest newsletter, is geared towards travel-industry insiders but does not mention rates and therefore can be sent directly to clients who are considering Lake Titicaca and Titilaka.  Download a copy of the PDF here.  


On May 31st, 2017, PeruRail relaunched the Titicaca Train which links Puno to Cusco on a 10 hour and 33 minute luxury rail trip. Passengers travel through spectacular high altiplano scenery in Pullman-style train cars with a capacity for 132 persons. The train travels from Cusco-Puno on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays and from Puno to Cusco on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays. No stops are made, though travelers can take in the scenery from the Observatory/Bar car while enjoying traditional live music and dancing, three gourmet meals, assorted beverages and afternoon tea. This is an excellent option for train buffs looking for a more relaxing day after the excitement of already touring the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu but due to the length of travel and lack of stops, is not recommended for children. More information on the journey and services can be found on the PeruRail website.  

Andean Explorer Train Route in Detail

Andean Explorer Train Route in Detail

The Belmond Andean Explorer began service this year, offering the first ultra-luxury Sleeper Train experience in South America.  The train runs between Cusco, Lake Titicaca (Puno) and Arequipa with regularly scheduled weekly departures for every month except February and unlike the Titicaca Train, passengers disembark on short, guided explorations along the route. Currently, travel options include either a 3-day/2-night journey connecting Cusco to Arequipa (with just a day-long stop at Lake Titicaca) or as a 1-night/2-day journey between Cusco and Puno.  While PeruRail manages the bookings for the Belmond Andean Explorer, in-depth descriptions of the routes and sleeper cars can be found on the Belmond website. 


Flying continues to be the quickest and most convenient way to reach Lake Titicaca. From Lima, LATAM and Avianca offer a total of four nonstop daily flights to Juliaca, the closest airport to Puno and Lake Titicaca. Nonstop flight time is just under two hours. Many more flights connect via Cusco and the Cusco-Juliaca leg of the flight takes just 40 minutes.  While codesharing makes it possible to book onward travel to Juliaca after an international arrival into Lima, this really isn't recommended due to the high altitude of the lake of 12,508' asl.  Better to first acclimate in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu and then proceed up to Lake Titicaca. 

Titilaka offers complimentary pick-up for all guests arriving at the Juliaca Airport.  The cultural experience begins right away as a brief stop is often made at Sillustani, a large complex of Pre-Hispanic tombs located about halfway between Titilaka and the airport.  


Private car transfers can be arranged to Lake Titicaca from Arequipa, the Colca Canyon, Cusco and the Bolivian Border and travel times range from 2-7 hours without stops.  There are also a number of 'tourist bus' companies that offer First Class service between Arequipa and Puno or Cusco and Puno. Timing ranges from 7 hours with direct travel to a full 12 hours if the bus makes stops along the way. While there generally isn't much overlap between guests who stay at Titilaka and travelers who opt to go overland by bus, its still a viable transportation option to be aware of.

Titilaka includes complimentary guest pick-up at either the Puno rail station, Puno bus station or Juliaca Airport and can arrange overland transportation from Bolivia or Arequipa upon request. Private touring en route can be arranged as well if requested in advance.