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Posts tagged “Peru

LAST DAY IN PERU, Lima, Peru

We took a morning flight back to Lima, stored our big backpacks at the airport and took a taxi to Museo de la Nacion.  We came here specifically to see the Yuyanapaq exhibition on the 6th floor. Yuyanapaq means “to remember” in Quechua.  It was an exhibition of black and white photographs documenting the Peruvian internal conflict from 1980 to 2000, in which thousands were killed in attacks by Shining Path rebels, government military, and other guerrilla groups.  It was a touching experience to learn the recent history of Peru.  It was hard to believe that the terror of bombings could happen pretty much anywhere in this country only a decade ago.

After some heavy realization of Peru’s recent past, we decided it was time for a good seafood lunch for this very last day of our trip.  We followed the guidebook’s recommendation and headed to El Veridico de Fidel, which according to the guidebook, was a place of pilgrimage in terms of Peruvian seafood. Though the book forewarned that the restaurant’s neighborhood could be a little chaotic and  rough.  As a result we decided to take a taxi.  El Veridico de Fidel was truly a seafood heaven. It was fully packed.  We spent a long time looking at the menu. At last, we ordered a full table of seafood and a jar of chicha, a type of fermented corn beverage.  The seafood dishes included leche de tigre (ceviche broth with shrimp, scallop, raw fish, octopus, and sea urchin), bi-colour tiradito (Japanese style ceviche without onions), ceviche platter (scallop, raw fish, whelks, octopus, and sea urchin), deep-fried seafood platter, baked scallops with cheese on top, and a red snapper sudado. The fish was fresh, and the soup very tasty.

After the heavenly meal, we taxied to the Plaza de Armas.  We causally strolled around the plaza to appreciate the surrounding architecture.  We headed to the main post office to send out some postcards.  There was only a tiny door from the arcade into the post office. We tried to buy some collection stamps but the staff refused to sell as they were closing.  After the post office, we walked around the area, stopped by a bakery for drinks, and then headed to Plaza San Martin.  At Plaza San Martin, we tried to visit El Bolivarcito for its legendary pisco sour but because of the regional election the next day, they were not allowed to sell alcohol.

We ended up stopping at a nearby KFC, before taking a taxi back to Lima’s airport.  One of our friends and us left Lima for New York and then Toronto that very night, while our other friend stayed at a hostel near the airport for another night before his flight back to Chicago the next morning.  That was it.  Uncounted fond memories of Peru: Andes Mountains, Inca history, colourful cultures, fantastic seafood, friendly people, funny llamas, mighty condors and sacred Titicaca.  After these magnificent Peruvian experiences, our interest on South America grew as time went on, until the day came when we were determined to explore this magical continent once again in 2013, from the Brazilian Pantanal to Bolivian Altiplano, and from the bustling Rio and Buenos Aires to windswept Patagonia.

01The Museo de la Nacion in Lima.

02The interior atrium at Museo de la Nacion, Lima.

03Back window of taxi, on our way to El Veridico de Fidel.

04Leche de tigre (ceviche broth) with shrimp, scallop, raw fish, octopus, and sea urchin.

5-6(Left) ceviche platter, which included a scallop, raw fish, whelks, octopus, and sea urchin.  (Right) baked scallops with cheese on top.

7(Left) deep-fried seafood platter.  (Right) red snapper sudado.

08After we finished, one of the staff came to pose for me to take a photo. His bowl of fish and crab soup seemed very tempting to us as well.

09The Plaza de Armas with buildings, cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, etc.

10Plaza de Armas, with buildings, cathedral, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, etc.

11President palace.

12Interesting balcony at President’s Palace.

13 Arcade at the main post office.

14Tourist horse carriage at Plaza de Armas, Lima.

15A ornamental church along our way to Plaza San Martin.

16Late afternoon at Plaza San Martin, Lima.

17KFC at Plaza San Martin where we spent the last hour in Lima, Peru.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


FAREWELL TO THE INCAS, Cusco, Peru

After the 4-day Inca Trail, we had one final full day in Cusco. We started off our day with visiting Qorikancha, the colonial church and convent of Santo Domingo that built upon the stone walls and foundations of the richest temple in the Inca empire, the Inti Wasi, or the Sun Temple.  Qorikancha in Quechua means “Golden Courtyard”.  Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, the famous Inca Emperor who expanded the Kingdom of Cusco into the mighty Inca Empire, and was probably the one who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu, transformed much of Cusco into his capital city and erected the Inti Wasi as the most important temple of the empire.   Pachacuti decorated Inti Wasi with gold vases, gold statues, gold ornaments, and walls covered with sheets of solid gold.  Much of the gold was given to the Spanish as ransom money for Atahualpa, the last emperor of the Incas.  Inti Wasi was looted and destroyed by the first Spanish conquistadors.  The Spanish colonists then spent almost a century building the Church of Santo Domingo over the walls and foundations of Inti Wasi.  Much of the church was damaged by earthquakes throughout the centuries, though much of the Inca foundations and walls remained intact because of their magnificent craftsmanship.

After Qorikancha, we strolled along Pampa de Castillo and picked an eatery to try some of the local delicacies. It was lunchtime and the restaurant was quite busy. There were only three things in the menu.  We ordered one of each and a large bottle of Inca Cola.  The dishes included adobo de chancho (Peruvian slow-cook pork in a soup/sauce made with jalapeno peppers, tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, salt and spices), chicharrones (deep-fried chunks of pork served with corn, mint leaves, potato and onion), and the truly awesome caldo de gallina (chicken soup with real taste of chicken).

After lunch, each of us did some shopping at Kuna, a local knitwear fashion brand with a good collection of alpaca garments.  Then we walked over to the Cathedral (Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus). The Cathedral actually consisted of three different churches, Iglesia del Triunfo, Cathedral and Iglesia de Jesus Maria.  We entered the Cathedral through Iglesia de Jesus Maria. The three churches were good examples of colonial architecture, with lots of silver treasures and historical artifacts. Famous paintings include the Quechua’s version of The Last Supper (a small feast with Andean ceremonial food), and the oldest surviving painting in Cusco that depicted an earthquake in 1650.

We couldn’t resist but went for another round of lucuma milkshake at Mercado San Pedro. After the drink, we took a taxi to the district of San Blas one more time to shop for jewellery and souvenirs. We didn’t get any jewellery, but instead, a few souvenirs including t-shirts and two small water-colour drawings.  On our way back down from San Blas, we strolled pass the alleyway of Hatunrumlyoc to admire the Inca stonework one last time.  This was once the palace of Inca Roca, then converted to a grand colonial residence, then a archbishop’s palace, and now, Museo de Arte Religioso.  Each stone of Hatunrumlyoc was smoothed, shaped and fit together by hands, without any use of mortar.  Given the splendid stonework, the Incas and the Quechua people were truly master builders of their time.  It was hard to imagine that their empire lasted for only 100 years. Within a century they built all these palaces and lost cities on the Andes such as Machu Picchu.

Since I needed more rest to deal with my fever, I decided to called it a day and returned to Ninos 2 Hotel, while my friends went out to Plaza de Armas to meet up with our Inca Trail group for a dinner gathering.  They brought back a bowl of delicious chicken soup for me that truly brightened my mood and whetted my appetite.   Since we landed at Arequipa, it had been 13 days traveling in the Peruvian highlands.  In the next morning, we would left the Peruvian Altiplano for Lima.

01Nino’s Hotel 2: across from our room there is the facilities for street children supported by the hotel and other donations.

02Entrance of Nino’s 2 Hotel

03Entrance of the Qurikancha.

04Urban view of Cusco from Qurikancha.

05Reconstructed Inca temple structure with original materials.

06Colonial ceiling panels at Qurikancha.

07Outdoor garden of Qorikancha.

08Outdoor garden of Qorikancha.

09Adobo de chancho, chicharrones, and caldo de gallina

10bAtrium of the eatery.

10aLive music at the eatery.

11  Staff preparing chicharrones near the eatery entrance.

13Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

14The Cathedral of Cusco.

P1030461The Cathedral of Cusco.

15_01  After the two churches, we strolled around the Plaza de Armas area, and found our way through some of the alleyways that are still flanked by Inca stonework. The first alleyway we walked through was Loreto.

P1030469   Walking to Mercado San Pedro again.

16Mercado San Pedro.

17Magnificent Inca stonework at Hatunrumlyoc.

18A courtyard of souvenir shops at Hatunrumlyoc.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 

 


AFTERTHOUGHTS, Inca Trail, Peru

We reached Aguas Calientes after a 20 minutes bus ride. As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Aguas Calientes is a very touristy town. The Urubamba River and the large boulders reminded us the flood and landslide that closed down the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu for two months from the end of January 2010.  When the flood hit a little over half a year before our trip, over 2000 tourists were stranded at Aguas Calientes waiting for evacuation by helicopters.  Little trace from the flood remained by the time we set foot at the town at the end of our Inca Trail journey.

We had little to do in the town, and I was not feeling well at the moment with a bit of fever.  So we pretty much stayed at the restaurant for the entire afternoon while other members of the tour group went to check out the small market and souvenir shops in Aguas Calientes.  We were all exhausted and waiting for the train ride back to Ollantaytambo at 7:45pm.

Two packs of “local” chips bought across the street from the restaurant became our “supper” on the train.  The train took us to Ollantaytambo in about two hours.  From there, Peru Treks arranged a bus that took us all back to Cusco. By the time we reached Cusco it was almost midnight.  We bid farewell to the Peru Trek team and headed back to Ninos Hotel for the night.  That concluded our 4-day Inca Trail experience.

01The Urubamba River in Aguas Calientes.

02Frequent shuttle bus runs to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

03All businesses in Aguas Calientes depend on tourism of Machu Picchu.

04The railway track runs right in the middle of Aguas Calientes’ main street.

05We waited at the restaurant arranged by Peru Treks until late afternoon.

06I wasn’t feeling well towards the end of the Inca Trail journey, and spent most of the afternoon resting at the restaurant.

08Two packs of “local” chips were all we had for dinner after the remarkable Inca Trail journey.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


MACHU PICCHU IN BLACK AND WHITE, Inca Trail, Peru

Situated at 2,430m above sea level on a mountain above the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca royalty.  Abandoned before or around the time of the Spanish Conquest, the lost city was not known to the Western world until 1911 when American Historian Hiram Bingham rediscovered Machu Picchu. Compared to the early 20th century when most buildings in the site lay in ruins, today many parts of Machu Picchu have been restored for everyone to admire.  Much research has been done over the past century, but according to the UNESCO, many of the mysteries remained resolved.

As UNESCO puts it, “the Inca City of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu is the articulating centre of its surroundings, a masterpiece of art, urbanism, architecture and engineering of the Inca Civilization. The working of the mountain, at the foot of the Huaya Picchu, is the exceptional result of integration with its environment, the result from a gigantic effort as if it were an extension of nature.”  While we wandered around the site, we could truly witness the powerful integration of manmade architecture and natural landscape.  The stepped terraces, temple structure incorporated into natural rock formation, and the stone pyramid all reveal the same story of harmony between Machu Picchu and the natural world.  For us this feeling was very powerful, especially after we had firsthand experienced of the Andean landscape from our three days on the Inca Trail.

01Temple of the Sun

02Mummy vault (royal tombs) at Temple of the Sun

03Alternative entrance to the Temple of the Sun.

04Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and Guardhouse at the top.

05Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock

06Stone quarry at Machu Picchu

07A viscacha on an Inca wall.

08Principle temple at Intiwatana Pyramid (damaged by earthquakes)

09View from Intiwatana Pyramid.

10Terraces at the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11East urban section

12Lane going up to upper section

13East urban section

14East urban section and the Huaya Picchu.

15Overview of Machu Picchu with llamas.

16Inca Bridge and original Inca Trail

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

We validated our tickets and got a souvenir stamp onto our passport at the main entrance of Machu Picchu, then our guide Freddie led us into the site once again.  We walked past the Terrace of the Ceremonial Rock and sat down at a terrace where Freddie gave us a talk about Machu Picchu.  Then Freddie took us to the Temple of the Sun, where former Inca priests observed the sun, performed sacrifice rituals, and stored the royal mummies at the mausoleum.

Lastly, Freddie took us to the Main Temple and then Intiwatana Pyramid, a high point in Machu Picchu where the Incas studied and worshiped the stars.  After some last words on the Inca astronomy, Freddie and his assistant Miguel left us to freely wander around the ruins on our own.  They left for a restaurant at Aguas Calientes where the space was reserved for Peru Treks.  All members of our group, including our friends, dispersed all over Machu Picchu.  We decided to take a break at the entrance cafe before climbing up to the guardhouse once again to take a few more photos of Machu Picchu under the sun.  At the lookout, there was a few funny looking llamas grazing the lawn.  After a few minutes photographing the friendly llamas, we ventured further out for 15 minutes to see the Inca Bridge.

Back to the lookout, we saw another llama standing on a terrace behind a stone wall peeking at the passing tourists.  We slowly walked back to the main entrance and hopped on a bus for Aguas Calientes, where our friends, Freddie and the entire group waited for us at the restaurant reserved for Peru Treks.

01Main tourist entrance of Machu Picchu.

78330034More tourists arrived as bus loads of people were transported from the train station at Aguas Calientes below Machu Picchu.

78330035Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock and the surrounding mountains.

04Tourist in Machu Picchu.

05One of Freddie’s sessions explaining the history of the lost city.

06Temple of the Sun was built upon a natural rock, with the mausoleum situated underneath.

07Mummy vault (royal tomb) at Temple of the Sun

08Doorway to Temple of the Sun.

09Damage to the stonework of the Main Temple by occasional earthquakes.

10The Intihuatana stone on the top of Intiwatana Pyramid.

11Terraces on the side of Intiwatana Pyramid.

12View towards the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock.

13Llama, Machu Picchu, Una Picchu and Huayna Picchu (mountains behind Machu Picchu).

15Urubamba River down at the valley bottom.

16The Inca Bridge and part of the original Inca Trail, 15 minutes walk from Machu Picchu.

17Curious llama peeking out from the ruins.

18Llama in the ruins.

14One last classic overview of Machu Picchu before we left the site.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


WINAY WAYNA TO MACHU PICCHU, Inca Trail, Peru

Last day of the Inca Trail. We got up super early and joined the queue marching towards Machu Picchu.  At 05:20 the gate of the final stretch of trail opened and we went in as a group to hike the final 5 km.  Despite a little wet, we hiked in a relatively quick pace and felt quite excited.  Our destination was Inti Punku (Sun Gate), where we were supposed to get a glimpse of early sunlight shining on the legendary lost city.  Though the night of heavy rain brought us another morning of mist, so that scene of golden Machu Picchu at dawn never happened for us.  At least it wasn’t raining when we arrived at Inti Punku.  We only stopped briefly for a drink, took a few pictures and continued our way marching towards Machu Picchu.

Before entering the legendary ruins, we stopped at the guard house to have a closer overview of Machu Picchu.  We stood at the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the guard house and waited for the fog to lift.  Magically it did happen in front of our eyes.  We could see first the ruins and then later Huayna Picchu, the iconic mountain behind the lost city.  After some moments of excitement, we descended to the main entrance.  At the main entrance, we used the toilet, stored our day-pack, and had some morning snack before heading back in to Machu Picchu for a tour with our guide Freddie.  And then the dog appeared again, which had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

01At 5am, we woke up to a grey sky of clouds and fog.

P1030118Clouds and fog was still present, but the fog seemed lifting a little by the time we reached Inti Punku (Sun Gate).

03Lush green mountains around Machu Picchu.

04Llamas and the Terraces of the Ceremonial Rock near the Guardhouse.

05From the guard house, Machu Picchu stood right below. We sat on one of the terraces to wait for the fog to lift.

06Our group among other trekkers waiting for Machu Picchu to emerge from the mist.

78330024Machu Picchu in the mist.

07Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu in the mist.

78330027Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu after some minutes of waiting.

08Entrance tickets into Machu Picchu.

10And here is the dog that had been mysteriously following our group since we left our first camp site two days ago.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


PACASMAYO TO WINAY WAYNA, Inca Trail, Peru

After a night of rain, it was cloudy and foggy throughout much of the day while we trekked through the cloud forest.  This third day of the Inca Trail saw us went past mountain passes with the highest at 3,950m, passed by several Inca ruins, wandered through the Peruvian cloud forest, and descended 1,000m down to the Winay Wayna campsite at 2,650m.  The dramatic difference in altitude allowed us to experience the distinct environment between cloud forest and tropical woodlands.  After a day of hiking in the humid forest, where heavy mist lingered around tree canopies, we were delighted to reach Winay Wayna, our last campground before reaching Machu Picchu, in late afternoon.  Similar to the previous two days, our guide Freddie was always enthusiastic on explaining the history and legends about everything we saw along the way.  That evening, we had another rainy night.  The campground at Winay Wayna was fully packed with trekkers.  We were told that hot showers (fees required) were available, but we rather waited another day until we arrived back at Cusco for a well-deserved hot shower.

01 Mountains and mist were the first things to greet us in early morning.

5090437132_21417b7677_oIt was cloudy and misty throughout much of the day.

2The misty landscape was poetic and picturesque.

3One of the first Inca ruins we encountered was tampu Runkuraqay.

4At certain moments, the scenery looked more tropical than the Andean highlands.

5Qunchamarka was another decent Inca ruin down at the valley.

10Sayacmarca (3,600m), another impressive Inca ruin that we actually climbed up for a visit.

11Sayacmarca could be translated as “Town in a Steep Place”.

12After climbing about 100 narrow and steep steps, we reached the main platform of Sayacmarca.  We sat down at one of the terraces in the complex, where our guide Freddie explained to us some brief information about the site.

13Similar to Machu Picchu, Sayacmarca was first discovered by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in early 20th century.

6The third day also saw us walking on some section of the original Inca Trail.

7Ferns, moss and tropical trees were common in the cloud forest.

8Misty path in the cloud forest.

5089808991_124f794f1e_oPhuyupatamarca, “Town in the Clouds”, was another prominent Inca ruins along the Inca Trail.

14Just as its name suggested, Phuyupatamarca was truly a “Town in the Clouds”.

15Winay Wayna (forever young) was the last Inca ruin we visited before reaching the campground.

17Overlooking Urubamba River, the ruin and the campground at Winay Wayna (forever young) was impressive and very popular.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


WAYLLABAMBA TO PACAMAYO, Inca Trail, Peru

After spending the night at Wayllabamba, we began hiking after an early breakfast outside of our tents, where the staff of Peru Treks set up a long table and plates of pancakes.  After breakfast, one by one we picked up our day packs and left Wayllabamba behind.  We were told that the second day of Inca Trail would be the toughest, as we would reach the highest point of the entire trek, Warmiwanusqa or the Dead Woman’s Pass.  Before reaching the pass, we would need to go through four stages of uphill hike, with a total of about 1,100m of ascend in one morning.

Not sure when did we find ourselves followed by a friendly dog from Wayllabamba.  We went through the first stage of ascend without much troubles.  A 15-minute break with snacks and drinks was the reward after completing the first uphill hike.  The second stage of the ascend took us through a dense forest and hundreds of uneven steps, some of which belonged to the original Inca Trail where the Incas traveled hundreds of years ago.  The second stage of uphill hike ended at an open valley, where dense forest gave way to grasslands and alpine tundra.  A long table was already set up by our guides and porters at the valley, where we enjoyed our second breakfast of the day.  Soon we were on our way on the third stage of the uphill hike.  It was a nice walk through a highland valley, in the embrace of mountains and glaciers.  In the valley, a wild llama walked alongside us with its head up.

At the end of the valley, the last stage of ascend was made up of sloped path and steps leading all the way up to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).  At 4,200m, reaching the Dead Woman’s Pass has always been one of the the most daring feat of the Classic Inca Trail.  Luck was on our side.  It was clear, warm and sunny when we reached Dead Woman Pass, which is usually foggy and windy.  We were among the first ones in our trekking group arriving at the pass.  Fog approached Dead Woman Pass as we waited for our group.  After everyone arrived, Freddie led us up a rocky slope where each of us placed a piece of stone which we picked up from our camp site at Wayllabamba onto a large rock, forming a small vertical pile of stones. He and another porter took out a bottle of rum, and we held a small ritual paying respect to the “pachamama” (Mother Earth).

After the small sip of rum, one by one we descended the other side of Dead Woman Pass. It was a 600m downhill hike to our camp site at Pacamayo (Pakaymayu).  At the camp site, Freddie gathered all the cooks and porters and introduced them to us one by one.  It started raining after we arrived at Pacamayo, and the rain lasted all night.  We were just so lucky of not suffering from a drop of rain while we hiked.

5090385044_f268fa33eb_o_01Early morning breakfast at our camp site at Wayllabamba.

01Farewell to the sleepy village of Wayllabamba.

02We rested and snacked below an exotic tree.

04The second stage of ascend took us into dense forest.

05Steps were uneven throughout most of the second stage ascend.

07Second breakfast was awaiting us by the time we reached the open valley.

08A wild llama walked alongside our shoulders for a bit as we walked through the valley.

09Halfway up the last stage of ascend to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) took us face to face with splendid mountain scenery.

12Almost reaching the Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass).

14After 1,100m of ascend, we finally reached Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman’s Pass) just after noontime.

15After some snacks and a sip of rum, our descend began at the other side of the Dead Woman’s Pass.

13It was a 600m descend to the campsite at Pakaymayu.

17At Pakaymayu, our guide Freddie (front right) introduced us to each of the fantastic cooks and porters.  Without their support, our trek would simply be impossible.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


KM 82 TO WAYLLABAMBA, Inca Trail, Peru

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Peru.  In order to reduce trail erosion, the government sets limits of 500 trekkers per day and a handful of companies that can provide guiding service.  Most people go for the Classic route, starting the trail from Km 82, reaching the highest point at Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) on the second day, passing by Andean cloud forests and Inca ruins on the third day, and ending the trek at the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu at sunrise on the fourth day.

At 05:30, a 4×4 from Peru Treks came to our hotel in Cusco to pick us up for our 4-day trek. They took us first to Ollantaytambo for breakfast, and then to the trail-head at Km 82, the starting point of the Inca Trail. At Km 82, we left our rented sleeping bags, mats and warm clothing to the porters. With a small day pack of personal belongings, water, broad brim hat and a pair of hiking poles, we followed our guide Freddie to embark for a full day of challenge.  As we departed for the hike, a tourist train ran ahead of us into the valley  towards Machu Picchu, taking a train load of tourists (70% of visitors of Machu Picchu) who rather skipped the magnificent Inca Trail to reach the lost city in about three hours (train + shuttle bus).

Our trek started off with an easy hike into the mountains. After some uphill walking, we arrived at the first Inca ruin Patallaqta. It was an Inca settlement for ancient travelers and soldiers located at the intersection between two valleys. Our guide Freddie called this the Valley of the Wind, because of the constant strong wind.  An optional climb up a hill gave us a better view of the terraces of Patallaqta.  We continued to hike towards our camp site of the first night at Wayllabamba.  Along the way, we get glimpses of the Cordillera Urubamba.  After about 12km of hiking and a few resting spots where water and gatorade were sold, we arrived at Wayllabamba in mid afternoon. The camp site has a great view to the Cordillera Urubamba.

At Wayllabamba, we were assigned with our tents, one tent for two people.  We settled ourselves and took a short break.  Our guide Freddie, porters and some local villagers decided to play a game of football (soccer) on an open field.  I joined them for the game but retreated after playing for about 30 minutes.  It was extremely tiring to exercise on high altitude, no wonder I was the only one from our trekking group willing to join the game.  After the game, we went to get water at a nearby village, and passed by a community church as we headed back to our camp.  At night, the entire group (16 of us) and the guides had dinner in the dinning tent.  The meal was very impressive given we were high up on the mountains.  We got to have a good sleep to gear up for the toughest challenge of the Inca Trail, the 1100m climb to Warmiwanusqa (Dead Woman Pass) in the next morning.

01Tourist train rushing ahead of us at Km 82.

02Beginning of the Classic Inca Trail near Km 82.

03The Kusichaka Valley led towards the magnificent ruin of Patallaqta.

04The ruin of Patallaqta, at the intersection of Kusichaka River and Willkanuta Rivers.

05Patallaqta was once an important Inca settlement in the Sacred Valley.

06Snow-capped mountains of Cordillera Urubamba often came to sight.

07The community church near our camp site at Wayllabamba.

08Our camp site at Wayllabamba.

09A nearby settlement from Wayllabamba where we could use the toilets and get water.

10The mighty Andean peaks dominate the backdrop of Wayllabamba.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


SAKSAYWAMAN, Cusco, Peru

In Quechua, Saksaywaman means viaiable hawk.  Standing above the northern end of Cusco, Saksaywaman is the perfect place to admire the impeccable Inca stone construction.  Huge boulders weighting from 25 to 200 tons were used in Saksaywaman to construct the famous stone walls constructed without the use of mortar.  Stones were shaped and placed together precisely by Inca craftsmen, and the joints so tight that not even a knife blade or a piece of paper could fit in.  Despite its fortress appearance, Saksaywaman was in fact a religious complex back in the Inca times.

We arrived at Saksaywaman by taxi.  The sky was grey and it seemed that rain would be inevitable.  We quickly walked around the ruins.  Not much interpretation information was presented at the site.  Nevertheless, we were amazed by the magnificent Inca construction and its simple but monumental stone walls.  As we wandered around the site, we reached a spot by a cliff overlooking the city of Cusco.  The vista from the lookout was gorgeous.  Despite strong winds, we stayed there for quite some time to take photos and checked out every small details of Cusco from a birdeye’s view.

Rain clouds were approaching fast.  As planned, we decided to walk back down to Cusco.  Via steep stone steps of Calle Palacio, we quickly descended to the city as it began to rain.  Soon we were reaching the door of Museo de Arte Precolombino when rain poured down heavily.  We decided to visit the museum partly to avoid the rain and partly wishing to know more about the pre-colonial cultures of Peru.  Museo de Arte Precolombino is an excellent place to understand the history and art of many pre-colonial Peruvian cultures, including Nasca, Mochica, Huari, Chimu and Inca.

From Museo de Arte Precolombino, it was only a few minutes’ walk to Jack’s Cafe, where we had a cheerful early dinner.  We were all getting excited about the upcoming Inca Trail trek.  Next morning, the 4×4 from our trekking agent Peru Treks would come to pick us up early in the morning to officially kick off our 4-day trek towards the Andean lost city of Machu Picchu.

1Monolithic stone masonry at Saksaywaman.

2Monolithic stone masonry at Saksaywaman.

3Rain clouds were approaching as we wandered around Saksaywaman.

4Magnificent stone works at Saksaywaman.

5Distant view of Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.

6Distant view of Cusco’s Plaza de Armas.

7By the time we left Saksaywaman, the rain was about to start.

8We quickly walked down the lane towards Pumacurco Street.

9Heavy rain soon dominated the skyline of Cusco.

10Walking down Calle Palacio towards Museo de Arte Precolombino.

11Walking down Calle Palacio towards Museo de Arte Precolombino.

12Display at Museo de Arte Precolombino.

13Display at Museo de Arte Precolombino.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 

 


LUCUMA MILKSHAKE & PLAZA DE ARMAS, Cusco, Peru

Soon we were back to the Central Cusco, the historical capital of the Inca Empire and the major heartland of tourism in Peru.  Declared a UNESCO World Heritage since 1983, both the splendid remnants of the Incas and the dazzling architecture of Colonial Spain captured our imagination ever since we entered the city.  Five centuries ago in 1533, Francisco Pizarro arrived in Cusco and sacked the city, converting the marvelous Inca capital into a colonial city with Roman Catholic churches and convents, many of which still remain standing today.  With the Sacred Valley and the lost world of Machu Picchu within close proximity to the city, at about 3,400m above sea level Cusco serves as a crucial base for all tourists to acclimatize before trekking the Inca Trail.

Back in Cusco, we decided to try out a glass of fresh juice at Mercado San Pedro.  Cusco’s central market was just a short walk from Plaza de Armas.  The covered market was quite large, with all kinds of produces, food products, dry goods, cafeteria, and juice stalls.  From a juice vendor, we ordered a lucuma drink with milk. Lucuma is a subtropical fruit native to Peru with high level of nutrients. We made one order but the woman ended up giving us three glasses because at San Pedro juice is ordered by jar, not glass.  On our way out of the market we also bought a few tangerines.

After San Pedro, we returned to Ninos Hotel for a short break, then we headed over to the Australian owned Los Perros restaurant for lunch.  The restaurant was only a stone throw away from the city’s main square, Plaza de Armas.  We walked around the square, stopping at some of the most iconic colonial architecture in Cusco, including Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus and Cusco Cathedral and admired the historical fountain at centre and stone arcades around the plaza perimeter.

In mid afternoon, we hopped on a taxi for the hilltop Inca citadel of Saksaywaman.

2On our way to Mercado San Pedro on Calle Santa Clara.

1Iglesia de San Pedro just outside of Mercado San Pedro.

3Fruit vendors at Mercado San Pedro selling all kinds of local fruits.

4The vendor preparing our lucuma milkshake.

5Tranquil back streets near Hotel Ninos.

6Wooden balconies were common sights in Cusco and other Peruvian cities.

7Cobble stone street in Cusco.

8The Cathedral of Cusco.

9Sagrada Familia Church beside the cathedral.

10Fountain at the centre of Plaza de Armas.

11Fountain at the centre of Plaza de Armas with mountains in the backdrop.

12Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

13 Arcades were common around Plaza de Armas.

15Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesús by Plaza de Armas.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


CHINCHERO SUNDAY MARKET, Sacred Valley, Peru

In the morning, we took a collective van from Cusco to the village of Chinchero (3,782m).  We went specifically for its renowned Sunday Market.  Despite touristy, the Chinchero Sunday Market is also famous for its community market where locals from villages around the area come to shop and barter.  We entered the market through a white-wash archway.  Immediately we arrived at a long aisle of vendors selling souvenirs and artisan textiles.  We wandered in the tourist section of the market for a while, then walked over to the semi-covered section of the market where locals gathered for grocery and other daily merchandises.

After exploring the Chinchero Market, we encountered a group of election campaigners dressed in traditional clothing and masks parading right outside the market.  It was only days before regional election would take place for all districts in Peru. Before Chinchero, we had bumped into election campaigns at many other villages, towns and cities throughout our trip.

On the upper part of Chinchero behind the market, we found ourselves visiting a weaving cooperative organized by the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco.  Dozens of local women displayed their textile works for sale.  We lingered in the centre for a while.  At the end, we came out with a piece of handmade textile as souvenir.  Although we found the small cobble stone streets interesting, we didn’t stay long at the old quarter of Chinchero before heading back down to the market square for our return journey.  On our way down, we saw half a dozen of local women dressed in traditional costumes watching the election campaign parade.  Loud music and chatting continued to fill the streets of Chinchero as we found our way back to the spot where we hopped on the van for Cusco.

1The archway marks the entrance of the Chinchero Sunday Market.

2A woman wearing traditional dress and a red felt hat, montera.

3In the Chinchero Sunday market, we saw many women wearing red sweater and red-felt flat hat. The crimson of the their clothing was really eye-catching, and so as their pleasant smiles.

4Hat is an important in the Andean culture. Peruvian women wear hat of different styles and decorations, representing their tribes and heritage.

5Vendors selling all kinds of tourist souvenirs, including chess and flutes.

6At the touristy half of the market, there were many textile vendors displaying their colour fabrics.

7The other half of the market, semi-covered with thatch canopies, served as a community market.

8-2[Left] Gourd carving is a traditional Peruvian art with artisans using gourds to tell stories, both personal and communal. [Right] An artisan proudly presenting his handmade jewellery.

10A girl, holding fresh flower in hands, was taking a nap against a mount of colorful yarns.

11Walking through the aisle between rows of semi covered stalls in the Sunday Market and watching the locals barter and shopped for grocery was an interesting experience.

12The semi-covered section of the Sunday market was like a grocery market where locals could find a variety of fruits and vegetable.

13-2Children were everywhere in the market, helping out the mothers at vendor stalls or grocery shopping.

15The loud speaker from the election campaign parade caught people’s attention.

17We stepped aside as the election campaigners with masks marching on the street.

16From the market, we found our way to the old quarter of Chinchero.

18A weaving cooperative organized by the Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco.

19The stepped lane with a drainage channel in the middle near the weaving cooperative.

20View of the campaign parade from the upper part of Chinchero.

21Local women watching the parade from a distance.


SALINAS DE MARAS & MORAY, Sacred Valley, Peru

After Ollantaytambo, we headed back to Urubamba, the largest town in the Sacred Valley.  At Urubamba, we hired a taxi for the Salinas de Maras (Salt Pans of Maras) and Moray, the archaeological site Inca terraces.  The drive to the remote Salinas de Maras was full of breathtaking views of the Urupampa Mountain Range at the opposite side of the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley), including Mountain Ch’iqun at about 5,530m above sea level.

Salinas de Maras is a salt mine of roughly 3000 small pools along the hillside of a mountain.  Each pool yields about 150 kg of salt per month.  The pools are fed by a hotspring with a high concentration of sodium.  As the water evaporates, crystallized salts are left behind for harvest. This salt mine has been in operation since the ancient times.  Little has changed for the past hundreds of years.

After Salinas de Maras, our taxi driver drove us to the nearby Moray site, an Inca ruins of remarkable circular terraces. The purpose of Moray was unknown, but most archaeologists believe that the circular terraces of Moray were once an Inca outdoor testing lab for agricultural experiments to study the effects of different micro-climates and soil conditions on crops.

We stayed at Moray for a short while, but didn’t have enough time to venture down to the bottom.  We lingered at the top of Moray ruins and the nearby area to take in the magnificent scenery of Urupampa Mountain Range until the sun began to set.  Standing at over 3500m elevation, many peaks stood in front of us across the Sacred Valley on the Urupampa Mountain Range were over 5000m above sea level.  We were grateful for ending our day of the Sacred Valley with such a peaceful scenery, a moment of cool breezes, fast moving clouds, fading sunlight, and majestic Urupampa Mountains.

We returned to Urubamba for the return bus ride back to Cusco.  Upon arrival, we were all hungry and tired.  We decided to treat ourselves a delicious dinner at one of the most well known tapas restaurants in the city, the Cicciolina.  Under the atmospheric setting of Cicciolina, we had one of the best meal of our entire trip.  This was the place where we took the courage to try a “cuy” dish (guinea pigs).  On the Andes, guinea pigs have long been a source of meat since ancient times.

1On the road to Salinas de Maras with Mountain Ch’iqun as the backdrop.

2Our taxi is approaching the salt mine, Salinas de Maras.

3The scene of a myriad of salt pools at Salinas de Maras was quite stunning.

4Staff could be seen working at the salt pools at Salinas de Maras.

5A water channel that diverts the salty water into the pools.

6The water channel that feeds the different salt pools.

7A water channel that diverts the salt water into the pools.

8Shadow of the mountain was cast onto the pools.

9The Salinas de Maras with the Sacred Valley in the distant.

10The various shades of earthy colours of the salt pools at Salinas de Maras.

11As the water evaporates, crystallized salts are left behind for harvest.

12Moray, an Inca ruins near the village of Maras, was an ancient outdoor testing grounds for agriculture.

14As evening approached, we had no choice but to embark on our return journey to Urubamba.

13We were at the elevation of over 3500m, embraced by mountainous scenery including the Urupampa Mountain Range across the valley.  As evening approached, we bidded farewell to the breathtaking scenery of Mountain Ch’iqun and the Urupampa Mountain Range and headed back to Cusco.

15Back to Cusco, we headed to the guidebook-recommended Cicciolina Tapas Restaurant to end our long day with an exciting meal.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


PISAC & OLLANTAYTAMBO, Sacred Valley, Peru

To many, the lost city of Machu Picchu and the Inca capital of Cusco represent the biggest tourist highlights of Peru.  Arriving in the Urubamba Valley (or Sacred Valley of the Incas) where Machu Picchu, Cusco and several other famous Inca sites are located felt like we were  entering the heartland of the Inca Empire.  We spent our first full day in Cusco exploring the nearby Inca sites in the Urubamba Valley.  From Cusco, we took a regional bus to the town of Pisac. Pisac serves as the gateway of the valley from Cusco. Our primary destination in Pisac was the Inca ruins on the hilltop.  From the bus drop-off, we hired a taxi to take us to the hilltop.  The taxi ride took about 20 minutes.

At the hilltop where the ruins sat, we could truly admire the Inca’s fabulous agricultural terraces.  Set against the mountainous backdrop, the agricultural terraces dominated the steep hillsides. Top of the terraces lie a series of ceremonial platforms, temple and citadel overlooking the valley.

After the visit to Pisac, we hopped onto a minibus to Urubamba, and from Urubamba, we took a collective van up to the village of Ollantaytambo, the starting point of the famous Inca Trail and home of another famous Inca ruins. At the main square of Ollantaytambo, we went to the Hearts Cafe for lunch.  Hearts Cafe was another charity establishment, this time, by an English woman and her NGO Living Heart, which engaged in a number of children and community projects in the Sacred Valley.

After lunch, we climbed the steep steps to the top of the Inca ruins, the Terraces of Pumatallis which offered a spectacular view of the village of Ollantaytambo. In addition to religious purposes, the massive Terraces of Pumatallis also served as a fortress during the resistance against the Spanish conquest.

After Ollantaytambo, we continued our visit of the Sacred Valley. We took a local bus and returned to Urubamba, from where we hired a taxi for the Salinas salt pans and the Inca terraces of Moray.

1Early morning at Ninos Hotel, a charity establishment founded by a Dutch woman in 1996 to help the street children in Cusco.

2Our quadruple room Carolyn, named after one of the street children at Ninos Hotel, was located on the upper level.

3Agricultural terraces dominate the hillside of the mountain where the Inca ruins sat in Pisac.

5There were footpaths connecting to other parts of the ruins and Inca terraces in Pisac.

4Inca ruins in Pisac lie atop the agricultural terraces.

6This gateway at Pisac presented a fine example of the mortar-free stone masonry perfectly fit together with hand tools, a common construction feature in many Inca structures.

7A stone retaining wall at the Inca ruins in Pisac.

8Inca terraces in Pisac.

9We had lunch at Hearts Cafe near the main square of Ollantaytambo.

10The terraces of Pumatallis in Ollantaytambo witnessed some fierce battles against the Spanish during the twilight moments of the Incas.

11 View of the village of Ollantaytambo from the Terraces of Pumatallis

12Terraces of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.

13The stone works and steep steps at Terraces of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.

14Magnificent Inca stone work at the terrace of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


INKA EXPRESS, Puno to Cusco, Peru

After visiting the Colca Canyon and Lake Titicaca, we were finally acclimatized to the high altitude of the Peruvian Altiplano.  We were on the move again.  From the lakeside city of Puno, it would be a full day of bus ride in the mountains to reach the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco.  We took the prearranged Inka Express, a service popular among foreign visitors for that journey.

The Inka Express bus exited Puno, then reached the regional hub Juliaca after an hour on the road.  Another hour of bus ride took us to the town of Pukara, where we visited its colonial church and Litica Archaeological Museum.  Famous for its pre-Inca stone carvings and steles from the Pukara culture dated back to roughly 100AD, the museum was an interesting stop to learn more about the Quechua people prior to the Inca times.  Beside the museum, the colonial church at Pukara was an architectural gem.

By the time we reached Abra la Raya, we were finally leaving Puno Region behind and entering Cusco Region.  At about 4,350m, the Abra la Raya pass was a popular stop for photos, tourist souvenirs and washrooms.  The next stop came at Raqchi, where we were caught in a short but heavy rainstorm.  As the rain subsided, we followed our Inka Express guide out to walk around the archaeological site of Raqchi, checking out the ruined Temple of Wiracocha and the circular stone storehouses.

Once on the road again, we were soon told by the guide that some sort of civic strike was going on ahead in the town of Sicuani.  We soon found out what the strike was meant for us when our bus stopped behind a long queue of trucks.  Our guide made all passengers to get off the bus, carried our backpacks and walked forward on foot.  Soon we reached the picket line blockade where burning tires and construction debris piled up in the middle of the road.   After about twenty minutes of walking with all our belongings on a dusty road, our guide told us to stop by the curb and waited for our Inka Express bus to pick us up again.  Our bus driver somehow managed to find a short cut to get around the picket line and reunite with us.

We arrived at the main square of Cusco just before dark.  Before going to our hotel, we went to the office of Peru Treks to pay for the remaining balance of our Inca Trail trekking tour in three days’ time.  After dropping off our bags at the hotel, we went to a restaurant called Los Toldos to finished off the day with grilled chicken and fruit pizza.

1Inka Express leaving the Puno bus station.

2Leaving the central area of Puno.

3Passing by a giant slide while leaving Puno.

4Street scene of Puno.

5.JPGLeaving Puno and Lake Titicaca.

6Arriving at Juliaca, the largest city in Puno District.

7Roads in Juliaca where trucks were often seen on their way to or from Bolivia.

8Roads in Juliaca where trucks were often seen on their way to or from Bolivia.

9Arriving at the town centre of Pukara.

10Pukara church was a pleasant treat from the colonial past.

11Beside the Pukara church was the interesting Litica Archaeological Museum.

12The interiors of Pukara church.

13At 4,338m above sea level, the pass of Abra la Raya lies at the border between the districts of Puno and Cusco.

14The short walk to the service toilets at Abra la Raya was freezing cold and super windy.

P1020717-2_01A souvenir vendor took her llama out for tourists to take photos.

15At 92m x 25.5m, the Temple of Wiracocha at Raqchi was one of the largest temple in the Inca Empire.

16The circular store houses at Raqchi.

P1020720After we encountered some sort of strike that blocked all road traffic on the highway, we had no choice but to carry our backpacks and walked for 20 minutes to get to the other side of Sicuani.

P1020729At Los Toldos restaurant in Cusco, we could finally indulged in a relaxing meal of grilled chicken and fruit pizza.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


MORNING ON TAQUILE, Titicaca, Peru

We got up at around 7 in the morning.  The air was cold and refreshing.  We walked down to the courtyard to brush our teeth and then into the dining room for breakfast.  After breakfast, our host suggested us to take a morning walk to the “beach”.  He gave us simple instructions and we ventured off onto the rural paths of Taquile again.  We walked to a part of the island where we had not been to before, following a winding path with a low stone wall along both sides of the path that stretched all the way to as far as we could see.  The beach was at the far end of the island. We could get a glimpse of it from the village centre. Without signage for direction and a clear path leading to the beach, we could only trust our gut to find a way to descend to the beach at the foot of the hill.

The lake water was freezing cold. Two cows were wandering on the sandy beach while we chilled out in the cool breeze.  We stayed on the beach for about 20 minutes until we decided to walk back to the village to check out the handcraft centre.  We climbed back up the hill to the main path.  The handcraft centre had a huge collection of exquisite textiles and wearable pieces handmade by the villagers, such as knitted belts and hats.  The colourful pieces are often decorated with traditional patterns unique to Taquile.  In 2005, the textile arts of Taquile was declared Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.  Taquile is often considered a successful example of community-based tourism.  Many islanders participate on making handcrafts for sell at the handcraft centre, or take turns to become hosts for visiting tourists.

After we visited the handcraft centre, we walked by a teenage girl sitting by the road, quietly knitting wool bracelets.  She lined up her colourful bracelets nicely on a piece of fabric for display.  The colourful bracelets had several different patterns knitted on both sides, and they all looked lovely to us.  While we were appreciating the works, a local islander waved at us from afar and he looked anxious.  He tried to tell us something important but we had trouble understanding.  After moments of confusion, we finally understood that he had been looking for us for quite sometime.  A friend of our host, he wanted to let us know that the boat leaving for Puno had changed its departure time earlier than scheduled.  Our host, on the other hand, had gone to the pier to urge the boat captain to wait for us.  By the time we were informed, we had less than half an hour to rush to the pier.  We followed the messenger’s lead to the exit archway of Taquile, where a long flight of stone steps led to the community pier by the lake.  We hurried down the stone steps in a single breath and finally jumped onto community boat leaving for Puno.  The community boat was much slower than the tourist boats, and the ride took over two hours.

After docking at Puno,  we went into a local restaurant at town centre for a big glass of warm chicha morada.  Chicha is a Peruvian drink made of purple maize with a variety of spices or fruits.  Fermented or non-fermented, chicha drinks have been popular with people on the Andes for centuries.  A glass of purple chicha morada (with spices of some sort) became the perfect conclusion for our visit to Lake Titicaca.  The next morning, we would head northwest to the historical heartland of the Inca Empire, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

7The boy of the host family was shy but curious. He invited us to play football with him at the forecourt of his house.

6Our host’s home had a big foreground surrounded by adobe houses on three sides and a wall at the front. The forecourt is a perfect place for the kids of the family to play football.

1The rural scenery of Taquile in early morning.

2A woman with her sheep for a morning walk.

3The beach that our host recommended was down the hill from the main path.

4The beach is right at the foot of the terraced farmlands.

5We finally reached the beach. We were greeted by a cow and its calf there. The water was too cold for a comfortable swim but the sun was warm and the sand was fine.

10PE05-29At the Handcraft Centre, we found many finely made textile items and knitwears.  Examples of Taquile’s famous knitting could easily be seen everything on the island, including the traditional headwears of the villagers.

8We passed by a number new buildings under construction when we rushed to the pier.  Many buildings were left unfinished until villagers saved up enough money to complete the second level.

9After passing this arch, we would bid farewell to Taquile island.

10Following the messenger, we hurried down the stone steps to catch the community boat.  The stepped path was long with uneven stone risers.

11We finally made it to the pier and were amazed by the speed at which we descended the uneven steps.

12There were a few boats at the dock. The community boat left from a different pier than where we arrived a day ago.

13At last, the farming terraces of Taquile Island was behind us.

14As the boat moved out to the lake, Taquile Island appeared smaller and smaller until it disappeared completely.

15Our boat passed by some fish nets in the lake.

16During the boat ride, we passed by a number villages along the coast of the mainland.

17Close up of a coastal village by the Lake Titicaca.

18We were sitting out on the boat deck.  After the gate marked by the light towers, we knew Puno would soon be in sight.

19We arrived at Puno at late afternoon. We strolled around the market near the town centre and went into a small local restaurant for a warm chicha moranda.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


AFTERNOON ON TAQUILE ISLAND, Titicaca, Peru

Once arrived on Taquile, we were greeted at the dock by the father of the home-stay family. We had difficulties understanding each other completely, but we could still communicate with simple facial expressions and hand gestures.  Our host suggested us to take our time to walk uphill to the village centre, while he would go ahead of us to prepare our lunch at a village restaurant.  Since we weren’t totally acclimatized to the 3,800m altitude, we took our time and slowly walked uphill from the dock to the village centre.  The journey took less than half an hour.  We walked along through terraced farmland ascending from the dock to the top of the hill. The view was gorgeous along the way, with terraced farmlands everywhere along the slope of the island.

Soon we reached the plaza at the village centre, where we found our host.  He led us to a local restaurant and ordered each of us a dish of local trout.  After lunch, our host guided us to his home where we would stay the night.  We were introduced to the host’s family.  Then we dropped off our bags and followed our host to the island’s elementary school where some sort of festival activity was going on.  Standing behind rows of local spectators, we watched groups of Taquile students engaged in some kind of acting and  dancing performance.  Despite we couldn’t understand Quechua, we enjoyed the funny acting of the innocent Taquile children that made everyone laughed.

After the performance at Taquile’s school, our host took us to the highest spot on Taquile, where the ruins of an ancient buildings still remained.  After the visit, we wandered around Taquile on our own until the sun was set. We followed the main path into the village.  Along the way, we were greeted by the villagers, most of them with a smiley face.  In late afternoon, we walked pass the main village square once again, where the pink Artisan Centre stood.  Taquile is renowned for their textile art.  In 2005, the UNESCO declared the textile art of Taquile as one of the world’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.  The centre was closed for the day.  We would come back the next day to check out the textile art.

In the evening, we dined at our host’s place with three other fellow travelers, two from Belgium and one from France.  In the candle lit dining room, we had a simple meal with soup, egg omelet and rice.  After dinner, the entire host family including the kids performed their traditional music for us.  Away from any electronics and digital devices, the night was simple yet surreal.  Inside the dining room, it was warm and full of music and laughter.  Outside the house, it was freezing cold and extremely quiet on an island in Lake Titicaca at 3,800m above sea level.  Before bed, we took turns going to the toilet hut in the courtyard in front of the house.  The full moon was climbing over our heads as we retired to our bedroom.  Our bedroom was on the upper level accessible only via an external stair.  Wrapped under three to four layers of wool blankets, the four of us had a very soundly sleep until the next morning.

1It was a 20 minute walk from the pier to the main square of Taquile, passing by farming terraces and the boundless Lake Titicaca.  Amantani, another island popular with tourists, stood prominently in the distant.

2The slope of the hills became terraced farmland.

3Taquile is living village and we love the sense of community on the island.

4The host took us a small restaurant in the main square for lunch. He ordered the local trout dish for us. The fresh water fish is slightly pan fired. The meat was sweet and tender. The fish was served with fries, rice and steamed vegetable.

5After lunch, the host guided us to his place where we met his family and left our luggage. He then brought us to the the local school. There was actually some festival performance there.

6Children with traditional costumes were doing dance and act performances.

7We followed our host up to the high part of the island.

8The highest spot of the island stood a series of ruined buildings and our host had no idea when they were actually built.

9School building in Taquile.

10Taquile is a peaceful living village with a great sense of community. Most of the foreign visitors made one-day trip to the island.  After the tourists left with the last boat, the island became peaceful again.

11We love Taquile for its sense of community. Most islanders here would greet us warmly when they walked past us.

12The Artisan Centre at the main square of the island.

13Gateway leading to the main square of the village.

14Photovoltaic panels to supply electricity was becoming more popular when we visited Taquile.

15We passed by the school complex once again before we returned to our host’s place.

16At our host’s place, the four of us stayed at the upper room (the one with the door open). The family prepared new woolen blankets to keep us warm for the night. Accommodation was simple but we had a good night of sleep after all the walking.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


UROS FLOATING ISLANDS, Titicaca, Peru

At roughly 3,800m above sea level, Lake Titicaca is widely considered the world’s highest navigable lake by commercial sailing.  Deep blue water, bitterly cold winds, golden marsh reeds, remote island communities and legendary floating villages: the story of Titicaca contributes a unique component to every visitor’s experience traveling in Peru or Bolivia.  For us, our Titicaca experience was centered at our visit and home stay on the peaceful Taquile Island.  Before reaching Taquile, we made a brief stopover at one of the floating Uros Islands.

In the morning, we headed out to the main pier at Plaza del Faro.  A row of boat ticket cabins stood at the entrance of the pier.  We approached the ticket booth which sold tickets for local boat to Taquile. We then boarded on a small boat among a boat cluster.  Our plan was to sail to Taquile, stay the night there at a local home, and return to Puno the next day.  We thought of getting some fruits as gifts for our potential host at Taquile, but we missed the chance to do so the night before.  While waiting for the boat to depart, our friend returned to the pier and to our surprise came back with a bag of oranges.

Sailing northeast from Puno through a labyrinth of water networks in an enormous marsh filled with totora reeds, our boat soon reached an area where the floating islands concentrated.  The boat ticket includes a brief tour to one of the floating islands which are the home of the Uros tribe. Our boat captain navigated slowly among the floating islands and docked by the island that is available to take in visitors. There were about a dozen of passengers on our boat, including both tourists and the locals.

The Uros villagers use bundle of a native reed to make boats for transportation and to build floating island on which they reside.  Layers of dense roots interweave to form a one-to-two-meter thick base for the island. Villagers have to constantly add layers of reeds on top of the island as the reeds at the bottom rot away.  To us, the floating island is soft and stable to walk on. We were told not to run around as there might be hidden weak spots.  We enjoyed the time spent on the island, wandering in front of houses and checking out souvenirs from vendors.  Although it was a short visit, we appreciated the little introduction given by the villagers about the floating islands.

1We boarded a community boat that took us to Taquile Island. Our boat was smaller and slower but quieter than the other tourist boats. With our limited Spanish and the help of other travelers, we expressed our interest on spending the night at Taquile to the captain who then made arrangement for us.

2The boat moved slowly away from Puno.  All boats entering or exiting Puno in Lake Titicaca has to pass through a narrow watercourse through the dense reeds.

3
When the engine of the boat was turned down, we were embraced by an indescribable tranquility. The weather was nice and the lake was calm.

4We were on a community boat with the locals. They seemed accustomed to the presence of tourists. We tried to keep our voice down when we talked. Since we couldn’t speak much Spanish, we could only show our friendliness by sharing our snacks with them.

5The boat ride to Taquile included a brief stop on one of the floating islands. The captain steered the boat slowing into the area where the Uros community is concentrated.

6Reed made canoes were parked along one of the Uros Islands.

5BAfter minutes of searching and asking, the captain finally found a village community which was available to give us a little introduction about the unique floating islands.

7We landed on the floating island with great excitement. The sun was warm and the ground was soft to walk on.

8There were about 10 small houses on the island. The villagers showed us around the island. We were told not to walk too far away from the main open plaza as we might accidentally stepped onto the weak spots.

9Every island has a welcome arch made out of reeds.

10A boat with a big roof was approaching us. Its big low roof was designed to keep the interior from getting wet.

11Looking at the small boat from the side, we saw it carried all different kinds of snacks, food and drink. The boat moved from one island to another.

12A villager on the island was preparing the presentation materials to give an introduction about the floating islands to the visitors.

13These are the handmade crafts that villagers used to tell visitors story about the floating islands. We played with the little reed boat with our hands. It felt very light but strong. We decided to get one of these little reed boat as a souvenir.

14Each floating island has its unique design. The welcome arch is visible from afar.

 


ROAD TO TITICACA, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru

Maca was the last village we visited in the Colca Canyon.  Stood against the Andean mountains, the pure white walls and green painted doorway of Maca’s church left us a lingering feeling of the Altiplano (Andean Plateau) villages in this part of Peru.  It was a feeling that emerges from simple but harsh living condition, rough but beautiful landscapes, humble villagers mingled with curious tourists.  After Chivay, our minibus continued to crisscross the mountain roads in the area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve where we passed by the day before.  Soon, we bid farewell to the area with our last glance of the Misti Volcano.

The ride heading east to Puno was bumpy and felt awfully long.  In mid-afternoon, we reached the picturesque Laguna Lagunillas at 4,450m above sea level.  Dozens of flamingos dotted the blue icy water, against a backdrop of golden windswept landscape.  In the strong and freezing winds, we stood as long as we could to take in the scenery and refreshing mountain air.  After the magnificent lake, the minibus just kept on going east until the sun was set.

After hours of bus ride in the mountains, we were all exhausted when we arrived at Puno.  Located right by the northwestern shore of Lake Titicaca, Puno is the largest city in the Southern Altiplano.  It is a transportation hub and a convenient base for tourists to explore the lake and its islands.  We walked a bit in the downtown area, found a place to grab a quick bite, and retired early to our hotel room to gain some rest in order to get over the high altitude syndrome as best  as we could.  The next day, we would sail out the highest navigable lake (by large boats) in the world to experience the magic of the deep blue Lake Titicaca.

9Church at Maca village near Chivay.

10The underside of the green doorway of Maca church.

2Even at sleepy Maca, tourism has been transforming the life of villagers in recent years. We tried a freshly squeezed juice of a local fruit which we all loved it. A small vendor next to the juice stand was an old woman selling dried roots chips which tasted delicious too.

1Farewell to Misti Volcano.

3By the mountain highway at an altitude of 4,450m, Laguna Lagunillas was really in the middle of nowhere.

4Crystal clear water and groups of flamingos.

5Peaceful scenery of Laguna Lagunillas.

9Traffic police stand with advertisement of Inca Kola at downtown Puno.

10Streetscape of downtown Puno near central market.

11Vendors at the main covered market in Puno.

13El Rancho, a grilled chicken restaurant in downtown Puno.

14Bread for sale on the street of Puno.

15The Glorioso Colegio Nacional de San Carlos at Pino Park in downtown Puno.

16Iglesia de San Juan at Pino Park in downtown Puno.

17The pedestrianized Lima Street in downtown Puno.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


FARMING TERRACES, Colca Canyon, Peru

We should have spent more time in the Colca Canyon.  Our 2-day local tour allowed us very little time to enjoy the natural scenery of the magnificent valley, except stopping at lookouts along the way to and from the Cruz del Condor.  If time allowed, we could have done one of the hiking tours that reach the very bottom of the canyon.  At twice the depth of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, the bottom of Colca Canyon is much warmer and more humid than the top.  The Colca Canyon is largely covered by pre-Inca farming terraces.  For over a thousand years, Andean farmers constructed agricultural terraces to cultivate potatoes, maizes, and other crops in the shallow soil on mountain slopes.

After Cruz del Condor, our tour bus stopped a couple of times along the road for us to appreciate the Colca Canyon.  Farming terraces carved into mountain slope, but not all were planted with crops.  In fact, many terraces, especially the higher ones furthest away from the valley, looked like as if they had been abandoned for centuries.  The stepping profile of the abandoned terraces revealed a fading trace of human manipulations to the rough and mountainous terrain along the Colca River in precolonial times.

It was already noontime by the time we arrived at Chivay.  After lunch, we bid farewell with the rest of the tour group who would return to Arequipa.  We, on the other hand, would switch bus and continue our journey over the Andean highlands to the city of Puno, where we would begin our next phase of our Peruvian journey, the Lake Titicaca.

1Locals at a mountain village at the Colca Canyon.

2Agricultural fields on a plateau in the  Colca Valley.

3[scanned positive slide] Agricultural fields and farming terraces beyond.

4[scanned positive slide] Agricultural fields on a plateau overlooking the depth of Colca Canyon.

5Cactus is common in Colca Canyon.

6Farming terraces were everywhere.

7[scanned positive slide] Farming terraces all the way down to Colca River.

8Farming terraces of Colca Canyon.

9[scanned positive slide] Farming terraces of Colca Canyon.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


CRUZ DEL CONDOR, Colca Canyon, Peru

It was early in the morning. one by one, tour buses meandered through the winding road along Colca Canyon to arrive at Mirador Cruz del Condor, a popular destination in Southern Peru.  Everyone was anxious to arrive at the mirador (lookout) early in the morning, when warm air rose from the canyon, helping the majestic birds to take off for their flights from their cliff-side nests.  We arrived at the lookout at around 9:00am.  There were already many tourists gathering along the cliff for an unobstructed view of the gliding condors.

Condors are the largest flying land birds in the Western Hemisphere.  Their wing span can reach to over 3m wide.  These scavengers mainly feed on carrion of the South American camelids or domesticated livestock.  Andean condors become national symbols for a number of South American countries.  In Peru, condors had inspired many folklore and local beliefs.  Our guide told us that Andean condors were now threatened by secondary poisoning from the carcasses killed by local hunters.

We stayed at the mirador for about an hour, spending most of the time following the condors through our camera lens.  Before leaving, we also checked out the jewelry and souvenir stalls near the stone cross.

1Colca Canyon is about 1200m deep at Mirador Cruz del Condor

2Condors circling up against the canyon backdrop

3A condor flew right above us.

5The lookout at Mirador Cruz del Condor

6Condor at Colca Canyon

7Condor at Colca Canyon

8A cross monument at Mirador Cruz del Condor

9Condors, tourists and the cross.

10Whenever a condor glided above the tourists, it would arose excitement in the crowd.

11

Stone plaque at Cruz del Condor

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


YANQUE, Colca Canyon, Peru

All fellow travelers in our tour group chose Chivay as their base to stay the night.  We were the only ones who picked Yanque, a sleepy village a few kilometres west of Chivay.  At Yanque, we checked in at Collahua Hotel, a mountain resort with dozens of guest bungalows.  Each of us have certain degrees of high altitude symptoms.  After a short rest, our guide came to pick us up for the hot spring La Calera Thermal Waters in Chivay.

La Calera is an open-air hot spring.  According to our guide, the thermal water came from a volcanic system nearby.  My friends and I had a great time chatting in the thermal pool.  After the thermal bath, I felt that all my high altitude symptoms were gone.  Our guide then took us to a restaurant in Chivay for dinner.  The restaurant was small but packed with tourists.  After the meal, local musicians came in to play traditional music with Peruvian pan flutes and charangos.  Along with the musicians, dancers dressed in colourful costumes engaged everyone of us with their delightful moves and laughter.  We had some enjoyable moments, especially when one of our friends was invited to join the performers for a dance.

The next morning, we had a brief visit of the small church in Yanque, Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción.  Similar to many colonial architecture in Arequipa, the white walls of Yanque’s Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion were made of volcanic sillar stones.  Touches of baroque influences such as the exquisite ornaments on the exterior were visible.  Soon the guide urged everyone to get on the bus to depart for Mirador Cruz de Condor, a popular spot in Colca Canyon where visitors may get a close encounter with the mighty Andean condors.

2Streetscape of Yanque.

3Streetscape of Yanque.

P1020125Streetscape of Yanque.

P1020119Our room at Hotel Collahua in Yanque.

P1020135Yanque’s Hotel Collahua under the early morning sun.

4Dancing children at the main square in the morning.

5Dancing children at the main square in the morning.

6Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, Yanque

7Latin cross at Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, Yanque

8Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, Yanque

11Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepción, Yanque

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru


VOLCANOES AND VICUNA, Pampa Cañahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru

The next morning, a tour minibus came to our hotel to pick us up for our prearranged two-day tour of the Colca Canyon.  Located about 100 miles from Arequipa, Colca Canyon is a popular tourist attraction for visitors of the colonial city.  Andean condors, highland wildlife, Inca farming terraces, extinct and dormant volcanoes, mountain scenery, Quechua and Aymara cultures, and a river valley over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, the Colca Canyon has a lot to offer.

After picking up a dozen or so of fellow travelers from various hotels around Arequipa, our minibus left Arequipa and headed for the mountainous area of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.  At a midway lookout, we stopped for a short break to admire a group of vicuna under the shadow of mighty Misti Volcano.  Vicuna, the national animal of Peru, is one of the two wild South American camelids and the ancient ancestor of alpacas.  Wild vicuna produces some of the finest and most expensive wool in the world.  The sighting of wild vicunas under the Misti officially kicked off our visit to the Peruvian highlands.  Our minibus climbed up steadily from the elevation of about 2,300m to over 3,500 at a popular tourist service station at Patahuasi, where herbal tea such as coca or muna were served.  Outside the service station, vendors took up a concrete lot selling all kinds of souvenirs from handicrafts to knitted garments.

After the tea and souvenir break, our minibus continued to ascend the highlands above 4000m in elevation, passing by a number of scenic highland wetlands and reaching the highest pass of Patapampa at 4900m.  By then, many of us on the bus had shown symptoms of high altitude sickness, from stomachache to terrible headache.  At Patapampa, there was a brief stop where we could take in the magnificent mountain views in the embrace of a number of extinct volcanoes.  A few souvenir stalls and llamas stood by the lookout, awaiting for tourists like me who braved the high altitude sickness for a heroic feat of photographing ourselves of reaching a 4900m+ pass.  To avoid the danger of high altitude sickness due to our rapid ascend from Arequipa to Patapampa, the 4900m stop was very brief while our movements outside the bus were kept in slow motion.

After Patapampa, our bus gradually descended to the mountain valley of Chivay at 3600m.  Before reaching Chivay, we made a final stop at a lookout overlooking the valley.  We walked over to the cliff edge to photograph the scenery of Chivay in a distance.  Several Quechua vendors dressed in traditional clothing braved the scorching sun and fierce wind selling tourist souvenirs and traditional alpaca knitwear.

2Leaving Arequipa behind, our minibus ascended to the highlands of Salinas and Aguada Blanca National Reserve.

1Much of the landscape is rough and covered by volcanic stone.

3The extinct volcanoes of the area reveal an active geological past. [Scanned positive slide]

4Wild vicunas roamed these lands under the shadow of Misti Volcano. [Scanned positive slide]

5Patahuasi has the only service stop between Arequipa and Chivay, and is a frequent tea stop for tour groups.

6Muna and colca teas are popular among tourists.

7Souvenir stalls adjacent to the service station at Patahuasi, with surreal rock formations in the backdrop.

8After Patahuasi, we ascended further up to the mountainous highlands.

9 Large area of the highlands is saturated with water. [Scanned positive slide]

10These mountain wetlands are home to unique highland animals such as Andean flamingos.

11While most of us were well aware of the dizziness and headache from the high altitude soon after leaving Patahuasi, our bus quietly arrived at the highest pass of our entire journey, Patapampa at 4900m above sea level.

13At Patapampa, we were greeted by several souvenir vendors…

12…as well as a few llamas dressed with funny looking decorations, and uncounted piles of stone cairns as roadside shrines to the Inca goddess Pachamama.

14Before reaching Chivay, we stopped at a lookout where several vendors were selling souvenirs and knitwear.

1From the lookout, the village of Chivay lies at the river valley further down the road. [Scanned positive slide]

 

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru

 


PLAZA DE ARMAS, Arequipa, Peru

After visiting Monasterio de Santa Catalina, We visited Museo Santuarios Andinos (Museum of Andean Sanctuaries) where the well preserved frozen body of Mummy Juanita is housed.  Also known as the Inca Ice Maiden, Mummy Juanita was discovered in 1995 on Nevado Ampato, a dormant stratovolcano not far from Arequipa. Seeing the frozen mummy of a 12-year old Inca girl reminded us the fear and respect the precolonial Incas had for the mighty volcanoes in the area.

After the chilly exhibits, we took a relaxing stroll under the warm afternoon sun around Plaza de Armas, the historical heart of Arequipa. Built with ashlar blocks, the Arequipa Cathedral dominates one side of the plaza with its colonial Baroque facade.  In adjacent, the two tier Neo-Renaissance colonnade of the Portal (Portales) was previously functioned as the town hall of Arequipa, now creating a historical backdrop for tourists to soak in the colonial atmosphere.

In the evening, we climbed up to the roof patio of Portales to enjoy our dinner.  The view overlooking the Plaza de Armas was magnificent, while the distant views of the mighty volcanoes surrounding Arequipa were equally impressive.  Temperature dropped significantly as the sun lowered, fortunately the restaurant owner handed us each a traditional wool poncho to keep warm.  That night, we had our first taste of llama steak.

1Plaza de Armas is the most iconic public space in Arequipa.

2Plaza de Armas is frequented by locals and tourists.

3The colonnade of the Portales, originally served as Arequipa’s town hall.

5Local crossing the street at Portales. [Scanned positive slide]

6Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. [Scanned positive slide]

7The bell tower of Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa. [Scanned positive slide]

8Tourist restaurants occupy more than one level of the Portales, including the roof patio overlooking the archway and bell tower of Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.

9El Misti Volcano from the roof of the Portales.

* * *

Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010

LIMA
1. Peru Trip 2010
2.  Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3.  Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4.  Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5.  Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6.  Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
INCA TRAIL
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru