I’ve been home for three days and finally got all the pics in one place….
Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, Peru-the first four days. Cuzco was the center of the Incan cultures. It sits at an elevation of over 11000 feet. It’s a good sized city, with countless cathedrals, squares, markets and almost all cobblestone roads. After arriving at about 11 AM, you are served coco tea to help you acclimatize to the altitude. The city tour took us through cathedrals filled with ornately carved altars all covered in gold foil. The Spanish came here in 1535 and began to dismantle the culture, even knocking down the Incan temples and using the foundations to build their cathedrals. Actually using the term Incans is not quite correct–the king was the Inca. The people were called Quechuans, or at least that is what the local folks who still speak the language and follow some of the ancient culture call them. I never thought that I would be one to take a tour, so I was surprised how interesting, knowledgeable and passionate each of the guides was. All three considered themselves Quechuan and each was different–one was a catholic, one followed the Quechuan beliefs, and one followed both (just to cover his bases!)
The tour of Cusco took out out to three ruins outside of town and an alpaca factory.
Some pictures of where I stayed and around Cusco.
I won’t go into a treatise on what I learned, it parts of their culture were pretty impressive. The second and third days were spent in the Sacred Valley (three more sets of ruins) and in Ollantaytambo we took the train to Aquas Calientes. The next morning buses takes you up to Machu Picchu. The locations of the archaeological sites were at high altitude, some in desert like climate and Machu Picchu is the jungle, near the headwaters of the Amazon. Macu Picchu wasn’t found until 1911, since the last honorable Inca king, Pachacuti, figured that the Spaniards would raid it. He had the first third of the trail (all paved in stone) torn up and hidden so the Spanish couldn’t find it. Such a worthwhile trip.