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Published: October 6th 2018
Cusco a UNESCO protected city with over 500,000 people was the centre of the Inca empire. A vibrant and beautiful city with a grand central square opposite the Cathedral Cusco also had some great bars and restaurants serving both international and Peruvian food at high quality and relatively low cost.!if you spend a few days there you won’t go hungry.
Most if not all of the churches in Cusco including the cathedral were built on Inca temple sites. The Spanish destroyed the Inca temples but left the foundations and built their churches on them because the Incas knew how to build against earthquakes
Our first full day in Cusco we were free to wander so after an orientation walk with the guide we found ourselves having brunch overlooking the main square and Cathedral watching even more bands, civic groups and other marching bodies for a couple of hours- they do have a lot of bands in South America.
We then wandered the town and found ourselves heading upwards on countless flights of steps to the point where they ended behind some hillside houses. We then found ourselves scrambling up hills until we came out by a white figure
of Christ, arms outstretched like Christ the redeemer overlooking the town. The statues apparently was a gift from Palestinian traders who spent time in the town. It is unusual to see a Muslim group provide an obvious Christian gift.
From there we could see across the valley and town of Cusco including the football ground of Ciennes the locals team.
After making our way down we went into a pre Columbia museum which showed off the skills and craftsmanship of the various civilisations up to the Spanish conquest - fascinating.
Next day we heat to Ollintaytambo our last stop before we start walking the Lares trek and Machu Picchu. Along the way we stopped at Ccaccaccolli women’s cooperative where we saw demonstrations of their weaving using alpaca wool. We also say how they produced the colours using cochineal as a base and other natural substances to create 35 different and vibrant colours - amazing to see how nature provides without articulate additives.
On our way we travelled through the Sacred valley of the mountains spotting Inca terraces on the sides of the mountains before visiting another g adventures community and their pottery. In addition we had a
demonstrator of ‘mud’ brick making for building ‘Adobe’ houses.
A bit of free time on Ollantaytamba saw us trekking up to a series of Inca grain stores halfway up the mountain overlooking the town. Good practice for the main event tomorrow.
Today’s the day - 3.5 hours bus journey, lunch and then we’re off.- The Lares Trek.
Only 3 of us from our group - us plus Dennis - 8 others from 2 other groups.
The Lares trek goes from Lares town and is a 3 day trek with 2 nights camping, which climbs to 4800 metres or almost 16000 feet. Apparently it is not unusual for some hikers not to make it because of the higher altitude and this proved to be the case with our group.
We started with 4 Germans and lost 2 by lunchtime on the first day and another at breakfast on the second. Yet another girl needed oxygen but this did the job and she completed the journey. Clearly this trek was not for the faint hearted!
So off we went a little uncertain given how the altitude affected me in La Paz but we had by now
had time to acclimatise. Beautiful weather until lunch on the first day then it bucketed it down. Fortunately we had bought Ponchos in the town and while we looked like something out of Lord if the Rings they did the job. Over the next few days we were subject to a mix of sunshine, heavy rain, freezing cold and snow - so of course we camped!
But we got there. We made it to the top at 4800 metres in snow and wind on the second day so a hard slog but well worth the effort to get the pictures at the top.
We carried our own backpacks but the local crew carried the tents, sleeping bags, our other bag, food, water, utensils, cooking equipment etc etc and the set up the vamp and good some really good lunches and dinner - so hats off to them. A really great job.
The end was a little disappointing though as we walked down to a bus then got innit for lunch. No big finish and no group pic but hey ho -We did it!!!
Train ride back to Ollantaytambo then bus to Machu Picchu town the collapse.
Next morning up at 5 to get in the queue for the bus up to Machu Picchu itself. And what a stunning place it is.
Once up there we immediately trekked up to the sun gate ( I thought we had finished with hills but no) before joining a guide for a tour of the site. Again it is difficult to imagine how they could have built this place and how it has stood the rest of time but it is stunning.
As I understand it the city was hidden from the Spanish which is why when it was rediscover in about 1913, even though it was overgrown, the structures and turn town itself was intact. Again it say a lot about the Inca civilisation that the walls, the terracing and everything else about this city were still standing after all this time in almost perfect condition.
And it’s not a small town - walking around up and down steps in the heat of the morning was exhausting.
Once down a scenic train ride and then a bus ride took us back to Cusco for a well deserved day of relative rest.
dinner then with Rob and Jackie as they were taking a different route out and next morning we were on a plane to Lima.
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