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South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco June 13th 2014

My last day in Peru started with a morning hike outside of Cusco for the Incan fortress of Sacsayhauman. This hike was wonderful. You climb out of Cusco for maybe 20 minutes, and for the last half follow a stream that falls down from the steep terrain. It was also a beautiful day. The main reason for this hike is to see the absolutely massive rocks at Sacsayhauman. The Inca's were somehow able to move massive boulders and place them perfectly together. I know this might not sound impressive, but you have to realize that the Inca didn't have a lot of technology. They basically had to use sheer muscle power and grit. And I always find it crazy that when the Spanish invaded, the Inca mainly threw giant rocks at them. Just think about that ... read more
View Over Cusco
Nice Countryside
Near the Top

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco June 12th 2014

A nice easy day today, meaning that I didn't have to rely on any form of transportation except for my own two feet. Just walked all day between most of the main sights in Cusco. I started at Cusco's version of an Incan Sun Temple, the Coricancha. This place was honestly just a sad sight. It was a great Incan Sun Temple, but because it was covered in gold, the whole place was stripped by the Spanish. As if to make their dominance obvious, they then literally built a church right on top of the ruins. So it's the shell of a once remarkable Incan temple covered by a pretty mediocre Spanish church. This actually reminded me a lot of the Mezquita I saw last summer in Cordoba... where a mosque is merged with a church. ... read more
Coricancha Courtyard
Garden at Coricancha
Right on Top

South America » Peru » Cusco » Sacred Valley » Huchuy Cusco June 11th 2014

Arriving in the Sacred Valley we noticed two things which had been scarce around the rest of Peru - trees and tourists. I had assumed that we had been above the tree line as we travelled along the Andes through central Peru. It turns out that all the trees were chopped down by the earliest inhabitants and only the less useful, bushy species remained in any number. The severe lack of decent wood had a profound impact in the Spanish conquest of the country. The main reason for the Spanish military successes was the use of mounted cavalry, against which the Inca's had no response at close quarters. Had there been trees available they would have been able to fashion pikes to enable them to spear the horses, out of reach of the swinging swords. The ... read more
Cusco
Cusco
Cusco

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco » Cusco June 11th 2014

Left Aguas Calientes on the morning train back to Ollantaytambo. A nice easy ride, but, since there's only one track, there was a lot of sitting and waiting for trains to go by before you could continue down. In Ollantaytambo, I grabbed my big bag from my hotel, and Cesar was actually waiting right outside. He drove me back to Cusco in like an hour and a half. One nice, brief stop along the way was an animal preserve just over the pass from Pisac. This awesome little place had native Andean animals, but the coolest I thought (mainly because they're the rarest) were the Andean Puma and the Andean Condor. The pumas lurk in the mountains of the Sacred Valley - but in their enclosure they looked just like big cats, and were gladly sleeping ... read more
On the Road
Close to Cusco
Macaws at Preserve

South America » Peru » Cusco » Aguas Calientes June 10th 2014

Rolled out of bed at 4:30, had a quick breakfast, and walked through dark Aguas to the shuttle that takes you 30 minutes up a giant mountain to the actual entrance to Machu Picchu. Since it was still dark when I arrived, I actually hiked about an hour to the actual mountain pass that once protected the ancient city. The gate at this pass is called Inti Punko, or the Sun Gate, and is the technical end to the Inca Trail that runs throughout the Sacred Valley. It's a wonderful spot, and sitting there in the dark, perched on a rock, smelling the cool jungle air, and watching the clouds slowly break as the sun came up was definitely the most awe-inspiring way to see Machu Picchu for the first time. The sun broke through and ... read more
Waiting for the Sun
There It Is!
Better View

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South America » Peru June 10th 2014

Like a droplet to the ocean, I made my way back up to Peru. After a 57-hour bus ride from Santiago I unintentionally ended up in Lima where I met a Finnish girl also headed north. Thus, with a new travelling partner in tow I rebooted my Peru tour and made my way up the Peruvian coast, starting with the sleepy one-horse town of Caral. Lodged in the Supe Valley, Caral is not only home to the most ancient city in the Americas (2600 BCE) but also happens to be one of the most tranquil villages this side of the Andes. With only one hostel and one restaurant the village is made up of five streets and is perfect for the mountain climber seeking peace and quiet without wanting to abandon civilization altogether. After a few ... read more

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca June 10th 2014

Lake Titicaca- funny name right? however in the indigenous language it means Puma which if you look at an ariel picture of the lake it is in the shape of a puma eating a rabbit. How do people see these things? Pumas condors and snakes played an important part of the pre Inca religions many moons ago and it is represented in the art textiles and buildings in many of the things we saw here . First we boated to the reed islands- islands made entirely of reeds. First they layered more reeds on top of the roots of the live reeds and it made it strong enough to builds homes and fires for cooking. Walking on it was a weird experience soft spongy and a overwhelming feeling of being tangled up in it. These civilizations ... read more
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South America » Peru June 9th 2014

Today was my first real day of travel. I left in the early morning with C├ęsar, my trusted taxi driver, for the Incan ruins in the mountains high above Pisac. At the ruins, I was honestly the most struck by the fact that the Inca were definitely not afraid of heights. You approach the ruins basically right on the side of a giant cliff, and then spend your time either clutching to hand-rails as you climb up the cliff face, or walking around in the steep alleyways of the ruined town itself. There was even a tunnel the Inca bored right through some of the mountains (how did they do that without any real power tools?). The final thing about the ruins was the cut stone itself. Massive blocks placed perfectly together - there's nothing actually ... read more
Terraces at Pisac
In Pisac
Incan Drainage

South America » Peru » Cusco » Aguas Calientes June 9th 2014

Up bright and early and opened my door to an incredibly clear and bright morning. It was beautiful - the mountains were glowing and it was a perfect 65 degrees or so. Everything just seemed to stand out in the sun. I started my day at the Ollantaytambo ruins just up the cobbled street (with a stream of mountain water running down the middle of it) near my hotel. This was the place the Inca made their great stand against the Spanish. They stood on the terraces and basically never gave the Spanish an inch. While this history is interesting, actually seeing and exploring the ruin requires basically walking right up the side of the mountain. You start at the bottom, climb past the terraces up over 200 stairs, until, at the very top, you have ... read more
A Nice Day
Mountain of the Moon
Climbing the Terraces

South America » Peru » Cusco » Pisac June 8th 2014

Really a pretty easy first day. An easy flight to Newark, and then, leaving Newark, the plane took a massive circle around Manhattan, and straight South for like 7 hours. I landed in Lima, Peru around 9ish - which, as crazy as it sounds, is the exact same time as Milwaukee. I left and landed in the same time zone. That's never happened before. In Lima I stayed the night at the airport hotel, which was really just for a bed to rest on for like 3 hours. I got up at 2:30 AM, went back over to the airport and caught a 5 flight to Cusco. I did this for a reason, though. I was flying inland from the coast, right up the base of the Andes right when the sun was rising. It was ... read more
More Sun
Another One
Close to Cusco




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