A Travellerspoint blog

Day 26 & 27 - Cuzco and the journey home

sunny 19 °C

Our final day has arrived - once our suitcases were packed and left with reception we went to have one final look around the city.

We walked up to Plaza de Armas and then across to Plaza Regocijo where a shoeshine boy offered to clean my shoes for about 25p. We carried on through to Plaza San Francisco to see the San Francisco church and an ornamental archway through to Santa Clara.


We looked around a small craft market and bought a wrap - it's supposed to be alpaca wool but as we learnt yesterday alpaca wool feels cold and this doesn't.

It clouded over and started to spit with rain so we stopped for lunch in a little cafe and luckily the shower didn't last too long. We headed back towards Santa Domingo (Qoricancha) to have our photos taken with the baby llamas


It's nearly time to go, so we headed back towards the hotel and sat in the park opposite the hotel to enjoy the sunshine


We visited the craft markets across from the hotel and bought a t-shirt for Rob and some llama fridge magnets

Our guide arrived for our final journey with him to the airport and our first flight to Lima. At Lima we have to collect our bags, leave the domestic airport and walk around to the International airport to check in for our flight to Madrid - although they are the same building you have to go out one door walk outside for 100m and come back in another door! - despite only having 90 minutes between the two flights we still manage to check-in and this time our bags go straight through to Heathrow. We both managed to get some sleep, so even though the flight was over 11 hours, it seemed to go reasonably quickly.
We transferred to a new plane in Madrid for the short hop to Heathrow. We had booked a car to drive us home and got the driver to take one last holiday photo for us.


I hope you enjoyed following our travels....see you next time.

Posted by JenBuckley 12:13 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 25 - Cuzco - City Tour and Ruins

semi-overcast 18 °C

Finally chance for a lie-in!

As our tour didn't start until the afternoon we had a leisurely start, walking up to a local supermarket to get some cake, and then did a loop through the town for an hour or so.

We were picked up for the tour by mini-bus after lunch.

The first stop was the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral (Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of the Assumption). They started building it in 1559 and didn't finish until 1654. Many of the stones were taken from Sacsayhuaman, a holy Inca defensive structure that we were going to visit later in the day.


Next we visited Koricancha (Inca Temple of the Sun or golden enclosure) and the Santo Domingo Convent which was built on the foundations of the temple. Once again the stones had been polished smooth and fitted together perfectly without mortar.


We left the convent and walked through some narrow streets towards the wider roads so our coach could pick us up. Unfortunately the driver decided to stop where the policeman told him not too and a screaming match ensued. The policeman wanted him to pay a fine equivalent of about £1800 for stopping for 2 minutes to load 16 people on the coach. It took nearly an hour before we continued the tour - at one point we thought we were being taken to the Police station!

We visited the Inca ruins at Sacsayhuaman, Q'enko and Tambomachay.

The main ramparts of Sacsayhuaman (speckled falcon or speckled head) were built with massive blocks, the largest being 8.5m high and weighing nearly 300 tons. Some of the rocks were quarried on site and others were brought from over 35km away. 20,000 men were involved in the construction, 4,000 men cutting blocks from the quarries; 6,000 dragging them on rollers to the site; and another 10,000 working on finishing and fitting them into position using stone hammers and bronze chisels.


Q´enko is a large limestone rock with complex patterns of steps, seats, geometric shapes and a puma design. Inside the rock are large niches and what is believed to be an altar.

Tambo Machay is a ceremonial stone bath for ritual bathing. It's a short walk uphill which we take very slowly due to the altitude. A Peruvian lady was sitting on the side of the path spinning llama wool. The ruins consist of 3 tiered platforms. The top platform has four niches that were probably used as seats. On the next level an underground spring emerges directly from a hole and cascades down to the bottom platform, creating a cold shower that was just high enough for an Inca to stand under.

On the way back to the hotel we visited a local cooperative where they taught us how to distinguish between real llama wool and mixes (llama wool is very cold to touch)

We got dropped off near the main square and our guide and driver shot off before we realised we didn't know the way back to the hotel. Luckily Rob had down-loaded a local map on his phone and we managed to find our way back.

We decided to eat in a local restaurant - it did serve guinea pig (which they serve whole with the skin on) but I stuck with chicken and Rob had a llama burger. We sampled a few pisco sours to compare them with those from Chile and to aid with sleep.

Posted by JenBuckley 10:19 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 24 - Machu Picchu

2,430 metres (7,970 ft) above sea level

semi-overcast 24 °C

Another early start - down to breakfast at 5am!

Our guide picked us up for the 75 minute drive to Ollantaytambo station to get the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes. On the way out of Cusco we saw lots of dogs roaming around - one pile of rubbish had about 20 dogs around it all scavenging for food.

The Vistadome train was very comfortable with great views of the Sacred Valley and the Andean foothills, it runs alongside the Urubamba river. Breakfast was a fruit pastry and a drink. The journey took just over 90 minutes.


We were met at the Aguas Calientes station by another guide who walked us through the town to the bus stop. Although there were about 100 people in the bus queue, the guide took us to the front and put us on the next bus. It took about 20 minutes to drive up to the entrance to the site where we met our next guide, Darwin.

Machu Picchu meaning old mountain or old peak is an Incan citadel built in the Andes mountain range around 1450 AD and has more than 150 buildings and over 100 flights of stairs.


They used a technique called ashlar where the stones are cut to fit together without using mortar. Many of the stones weigh more than 50 tons. They polished the stone to make it smooth for the more important buildings such as the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the Three Windows.


This is the temple of the Condor - the bit at the front represents the beak and the rock behind it's wings

Our guided tour finished with lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, so we had a couple of hours left to do a bit more exploring on our own. We decided to walk to the Inca bridge. There were great views of the valley on the way. The trail is closed just before the bridge, which is where it starts getting very narrow and very steep.


We caught the bus back to Aguas Calientes and had a little look round the town - it's very pretty with lots of places to eat and drink.


It was getting dark when we caught the train back to Ollantaytambo, but the train crew provide hot pizza and a drink followed by a fashion show of all the jumpers and tops they sell from the train.
We were met at the station and driven back to our hotel.

That evening as it was a long day we ate some snacks and went to bed.

Posted by JenBuckley 10:12 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 23 - Santiago, Chile to Cuzco, Peru

sunny 18 °C

We had a very early start today, our taxi to the airport was booked for 04:30am.

Our first flight to Lima went smoothly and was on time. It took just under 4 hours but as Peru is 2 hours behind Chile, it was still only 09:30 when we landed.

Although the International and Domestic airport are in the same building, you have to collect your suitcase and walk outside to get from one to the other.

The flight to Cuzco is supposed to be 1hr35 and we seemed to get close to the airport on time but then spent about 40 minutes circling - this was particularly unpleasant as the clouds were quite heavy so there was a lot of turbulence as we flew in and out of the clouds.

Our guide (Jose) was waiting for us and it only took 20 minutes to get to the hotel.

Cuzco was once capital of the Inca Empire. It is 3,400 m above sea level and we were warned to acclimatize slowly, our guide told us to take things easy and only have something light to eat. The hotel welcomed us with a cup of coco-leaf tea which is supposed to help with altitude-sickness.

We had a gentle walk around the area near the hotel but with the early start today and another early start tomorrow we decided not to explore too far. We sat on a bench in the sunshine near the Convent of Santo Domingo and ate some empanadas and cake and watched a humming bird collecting flower nectar.


I feel a little odd - a bit dizzy and queasy.

Posted by JenBuckley 14:38 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Day 22 - Santiago, Chile

sunny 28 °C

Today we walked from our hotel to Parque Metropolitano (also known as Cerro San Cristóbal) which rises 300m above Santiago. The walking trail also doubles as a mountain bike trail, so was quite steep in places and very dusty. The park covers 722 hectares and is topped by a 14m high statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is on an 8m high pedestal and is lit up at night so it can be seen from all over the city. In front of the statue is a large amphitheatre to hold outdoor masses and loud speakers were playing church/chanting music.
There are beautiful but hazy views of the city and the snow-capped Andes mountains.

From there, we walked down into the historic area of the city and the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by the beautiful buildings such as the Cathedral and the Royal Palace.


Next was the Plaza de la Constitucion and Palacio La Moneda (from 1814 to 1929 this building was the colonial mint - it now houses the President and 3 cabinet ministers ).


On the way to the historic district, we'd spotted a park called Cerro Santa Lucia, so we decided to grab a cold drink and sit in the park for a bit. We found a corner shop that also sold cakes! - we went to a counter to pay, but they rang up our purchases on the till and then sent us to a booth to pay.
The park is on a hill with a fort and great views across the city (you can just see the snow caps amongst the haze and clouds).


The Mapocho river runs through Santiago and for most of the city it has park areas on the south side. Lots of people are sitting enjoying the nice weather and a band is tuning up ready to play later. We followed the river back to the district we were staying in (Barrio Providencia).
By the time we got back to the hotel, I had very dusty feet!


After a short rest and shower at the hotel, we walked to a large shopping mall to find a restaurant for dinner.
By the time we got back to the hotel our feet were sore as we'd walked over 13 miles

Posted by JenBuckley 14:36 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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