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Published: August 26th 2008
Cusco and the famous Machu Picchu was our next destination but on our way we managed to stop off at some lovely peaceful ruins called Raqchi and these are the remains of the temple of Viracocha, the sight of a massive and important religious centre for the Incas. When we finally arrived in Cusco city itself, unfortunately there was a mix up with our hostel booking which was a real drag because they had to arrange for us to stay in a 4 star hotel called Inca Dream instead, which was nice! So after initially being rather upset things turned out fine and we lived the high life for the next few days until our reservation ran out, we then moved to more sedate surroundings but it was fun while it lasted.
Cusco is a large and beautiful city set in a bowl type valley surrounded by mountains. It was once the foremost city of the Inca Empire and was the sight of several battles with the invading Spanish. The city still shows many signs of the past Incan culture, with the walls of the buildings and streets built with the massive Incan stones, many of which were plundered from
the nearby fortress of Sacsayhuaman, in the Quechua language this is thought to mean Satisfied Falcon, and yes we know what it sounds like in english! (hint, it is often spelt Sacsaywaman) It is here that some of the last few battles of the war between the Incans and the Spanish was fought. The rebel Incan leader Manco defeated the Spanish who had occupied the fortress. Afterwards the Spanish only narrowly avoided complete defeat by Manco when they launched a desperate attack with their cavalry led by Juan Pizarro, they retook the fortress and Manco had to flee. The Inca rebelion never fully recovered after this battle. This impossing fortress sits perched above the city and although only around 20% remains it is never the less massive and made for one of our most interesting days out. It is almost impossible to imagine how the truely huge rocks were shapped and put in place to form the battlements and buildings, this was the subject of much disscusion and some interesting wild theories from Tony! It was awe inspiring and thought provoking and we had not even made it to Machu Picchu yet!
Other days in Cusco were spent wandering
the lovely historic streets admiring the colonial architecture and the main square in particular, Plaza de Armas is surrounded by towering churches and buildings with fabulous stonework. Our time here also coincided with massive celebrations all over Peru in honour of the national drink, Pisco Sour! I think they were celebrating independence as well. There were huge marches through the main plaza with bands and dancers, it was certainly an impressive and colourful spectacle to behold. The bands were great and the marchers were very smart and organised.
Cusco is of course the starting point for all trips to the famous Inca ruins and much of our time was spent researching and looking for a reputible company to trek with. But an unfortunate side effect of the cities popularity is that it is permanently full of throngs of tourists and the number of companies offering tours and treks is bewildering. As time wore on we became a bit upset at being surrounded by such large humbers of gringos and could not help feel that many failed to respect the culture and history of this wonderful city.
Our time was well spent though and we found a great company
con Peruvian flag
called Peru Treks, who treated their porters and animals well, while also putting something back into the local comunities with projects aimed at helping the people in the villages and settlements near Machu Picchu. We were booked onto a trip called the "Lares Trek", which is an alternative to the famous Inca trek, it was a relief to finally have things organised and we could not wait to get going.
Tot: 2.604s; Tpl: 0.025s; cc: 12; qc: 67; dbt: 0.0285s; 2; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 1;
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