Blogs from Cusco, Peru, South America

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South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu August 22nd 2022

Our last day in the Sacred Valley was dedicated to Machu Picchu. Often referred to as the "Lost City of the Incas," it is the most familiar icon of Inca civilization. Getting there is no easy task. First, we had to ride from our hotel in Urubamba to Ollantaytambo's train station. The train ride to Aguas Calientes takes a little over 1 1/2 hours with a stop along the way for people who are continuing on the Inca Trail. The portion of the trail from the train stop to Machu Picchu is normally hiked in three to six days. The route goes over elevations between about 8,530 and 13,780 feet, and it is lined with Inca ruins Upon our arrival in Aguas Calientes, there was another bus ride that climbs nearly 1,640 feet on a winding ... read more
Train Ride to Aguas Calientes
Train Ride to Aguas Calientes
Train Ride to Aguas Calientes

South America » Peru » Cusco » Ollantaytambo August 21st 2022

Another day of travel was ahead of us, leaving Cusco behind to transfer to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley. We had two stops ahead of us: Chinchero and Ollantaytambo. Our first stop was Chinchero, known to the Incas as the birthplace of the rainbow. This typical Andean village is a town well known for preserving ancient Inca customs and for making beautiful weavings with natural dyes. It is home to the Interpretation Center of Andean Textiles. Women in traditional costume will demonstrate how they produce the different colors for the wool they spin and weave. Unfortunately, construction is progressing on an airport clearly visible from the old callejones, the alley like streets from ancient times. No doubt it will influence and change the current rustic charm of this ancient village. Chinchero was built in the late ... read more
Chinchero
Chinchero
Chinchero

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco August 20th 2022

Sacsayhuamán is a fortress on the northern outskirts of the city of Cusco built in the 15th century at an altitude of 12,142 feet. According to oral history, Tupac Inca decided that the best head for the Puma shaped city of Cusco would be to make a fortress on the high plateau to the north of the city. In 1983 Sacsayhuamán was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Of all the breathtaking ruins in Peru, Sacsayhuamán was the one that left me in awe the most. Considering that the Spaniards used Sacsayhuamán as a source of stones for building the new governmental and religious buildings of the colonial city, as well as the houses of the wealthy, we can only imagine what it must have been like. Today, only the stones that were too large to ... read more
Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman
Sacsayhuaman

South America » Peru » Cusco » Cusco August 19th 2022

After the delicious buffet style breakfast offered by the hotel, we set out to explore the nearby Plaza Mayor of Cusco. At an elevation of 11,200 feet, most of the streets seem to involve climbing to some extent which I had deemed my enemy, but I absolutely loved the look and feel of the ones that seemed no more than narrow alleyways, mostly ending in small plazas surrounded by colonial architecture. The city was the capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century until 1532. In 1983, Cusco was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and designated as the Historical Capital of Peru by The Constitution of Peru. Many believe that the city was planned in the shape of a puma, a sacred animal. Buildings constructed after the Spanish invasion often have a mixture ... read more
Around Cusco
Around Cusco
Around Cusco

South America » Peru » Cusco » Raqchi August 18th 2022

This morning, we left Puno behind for another day of travel. Our destination was Cuzco, and all the Inca wonders associated with the area. Not long after leaving Puno we had the dubious pleasure of driving through Juliaca, which we were told was the ugliest city in Peru. The reason for this seems to be that the residents have, for generations, dedicated themselves to the pursuit of money by embracing the black market in all its forms. Apparently, they specialize in creating fake luxury label items of every kind. But none of the profits are being used for infrastructure or improving the city, which remains mostly a place of dirty roads and unremarkable architecture. The main event of the day was the stop at the ruins of the Temple of Viracocha who was one of the ... read more
Puno
Puno
Puno/Cusco

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu July 16th 2022

We are now within about 2 weeks from leaving Chile, and while there are moments of sadness, especially with all the goodbyes we have to say, in my heart I know it’s time to go. It has been an amazing experience here, with some serious ups (the travel, the friends, the culture) and some serious downs (the pandemic, the social unrest)…but I think the biggest testament to all this, is that if we had to make this choice again, I would not change it for the world. There was a time in 2021, probably at this time last year, where we were sooooo close to packing up and leaving early. And thank god we did not. This experience would not have been complete with our last year here, to reconnect with people that we were cut ... read more
Qorikancha
Laguna del Inca
Big Mountain Girl

South America » Peru » Cusco » Choquequirao November 5th 2021

Read my article about Choquequirao on Matador Network ! The most important things to know about Choquequirao are that it is much bigger than Machu Picchu and that the trail to get there is very steep and has significant elevation change. (This blog and many more photos are on my website https://heatherjasper.com ). The Choquequirao ruins are all of the things you want in an archeological site: beautiful, mysterious, extensive, unique, fascinating, etc. They have been classified successively as a fortress, a ceremonial center, a city and the last residence of the Inca. In my opinion, the most important aspect is that they were never discovered by the Spanish during the decades of conquest. I was very disappointed to hear from local families that they have be... read more
What's left to be done
Choquequirao Usnu
Smaller terraces

South America » Peru » Cusco » Machu Picchu March 9th 2021

http://www.heygo.com 8th March - Machu Picchu When the explorer Hiram Bingham III encountered Machu Picchu in 1911, he was looking for a different city, known as Vilcabamba. This was a hidden capital to which the Inca had escaped after the Spanish conquistadors arrived in 1532. Over time it became famous as the legendary Lost City of the Inca. Bingham spent most of his life arguing that Machu Picchu and Vilcabamba were one and the same, a theory that wasn’t proved wrong until after his death in 1956. (The real Vilcabamba is now believed to have been built in the jungle about 50 miles west of Machu Picchu.) Recent research has cast doubt on whether Machu Picchu had ever been forgotten at all. When Bingham arrived, three families of farmers were living at the site. Machu Picchu ... read more

South America » Peru » Cusco February 26th 2021

http://www.heygo.com 26th February - Chincheros Incas Textile Techniques. Another trip I didn’t want to miss, these virtual trips are often more than one date but I had missed out earlier and just by chance managed to book one thus afternoon. To the Incas gold was merely an adornment. Far more valuable were their alpacas, Vicuña which produced an ultra-soft fleece that they wove into clothing, rugs and tapestries. These textiles – not gold – were used as currency throughout the empire. Soldiers and high-ranking officials were paid in alpaca garments, and clothing woven from vicuña wool was so highly prized that only members of the royal family were allowed to wear it. The Inca had developed this ultra-fine fleece through centuries of selective breeding. They culled all but the best male alpacas and separated vicuñas and ... read more

South America » Peru » Cusco February 9th 2021

http://www.heygo.com 8th February - Cusco: The Inca Capital - Peru The City of Cuzco (also Cusco) at 3,400 m above sea level, is located in a fertile alluvial valley fed by several rivers in the heart of the Central Peruvian Andes. Cusco was the religious and administrative capital of the Inca Empire which flourished in ancient Peru between c. 1400 and 1534 CE. The Incas controlled territory from Quito to Santiago, making theirs the largest empire ever seen in the Americas and the largest in the world at that time. Cusco, which had a population of up to 150,000 at its peak, was laid out in the form of a puma and was dominated by fine buildings and palaces. Cusco is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city of Cusco is said to ... read more




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