Thursday, July 21, 2011

Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, Peru

After leaving Panama City, I arrived late at night in Lima, Peru. The following morning I flew straight to Cuzco, commonly known as the Incan capital, and the gateway to Machu Picchu (the subject of my next post). There are many sights in the vicinity of Cuzco, and I had a full day to explore before the train the next day to Machu Picchu.

The short 2-hour flight from Lima crosses the impressive Andes

This particular mountain was over 6,000 meters

Cuzco itself didn't have snow, despite being over 11,000 ft. high

The drive from the airport, with a large mountain in the background and the local flags

A good driver is hard to find = this is Lucas Jaimes T., who speaks English very well. He can be reached at, or He's worth it.

Overview of Cuzco's Plaza de Armas en route to Pisaq

Valley en route to Pisaq

The Sacred Valley

Pisaq, with the terraced ruins above the town

Every site in Peru has guides offering services, like this guy

The ruins are dramatically located, and not heavily touristed

I hiked down to this area (probably shouldn't have exerted too much energy on my first day at this altitude)

The ruins, other than the terraces, aren't visible from town (which is just over the cliff to the right)

"I was here" (hey, at least I was going to lose some weight on this trip)

Dramatic accident coming back through town

Pukapukara, a minor site (a fort) on the way back to Cuzco

Pretty much a stereotypical view of Peru

Pukapukara was fairly popular

I was really feeling the altitude, but I wasn't nauseous; just breathing hard

Another minor site, Qenko, was overrun with busloads of tourists wanting to see where humans were sacrificed

It was somewhere down here, apparently

To end the ruins tour, I went to Sacsayhuaman, the largest site and the closest to Cuzco

See the llama in the rocks? So the guide told me...

After a long day, I had dinner in Cuzco, and drank the local specialty, chicha morada, made from a type of corn. It was very sweet, and very refreshing.

I also had to try the local food, like cuy (guinea pig, complete with helmet). Extremely tasty meat, but too many bones to make it worthwhile. I also sampled some alpaca meat, which I highly recommend.

La Compania church, in Plaza de Armas (to be toured later in the daylight)

La Catedral, to the left of La Compania

Machu Picchu awaited me... I couldn't wait!

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