Machu Picchu - The highpoint of our Trip

Trip Start Dec 06, 2010
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Cusco,
Monday, March 28, 2011

So now we are at the end of our trip and we saved the best for the last - Cusco and Machu Picchu. What a fantastic end to a wonderful four months in Peru and Bolivia!

We have felt somewhat like yoyos during the past two weeks of travelling.  Here are some of the average altitudes for the cities that we were in:

March 16 Sucre, Boliva  -  2904m/9527 ft
March 17 Tarija, Bolivia  -  1854m/6084 ft
March 22 La Paz, Boliva -  4061m/13,323 ft
March 24 Cusco, Peru    -  3300m/10,800 ft
March 29 Lima, Peru      -   133m/436 ft
March 31 Guelph, Canada - 365m/1196 ft

This blog is quickly coming to an end and we think that rather than write a lot of words, we will share some of the highlights of the past week through our photos. As they say, "A picture is worth a thousand words".

Shortly after arriving in Cusco, we were able to jump on a trolley and go on a short tour of the city and surrounding area. In Inca times, Cusco was a holy city, a sacred place that the Incas believed was the "Navel of the World". When the Spaniards arrived, they used the Inca's incredible stonework as the foundations of their churches and monasteries so we could see lots of evidence of Inca remains.

The following day, we went on a half day tour to Moray and Maras. 

Moray is an archaeological site that is approximately 50 km away from Cusco on a high plateau that is about 3500m (11,500 ft), and close to the village of Maras. We thoroughly enjoyed the hour long bus trip to the sites as the mountainous landscapes were so lush and green. Our trip though was a little adventurous. At one point we had to get out of the bus and watch as the driver successfully manoeuvered it through a huge, muddy pothole. We caught it on film.

Everywhere in Peru, you see Inca terraces on the sides of the mountains. At Moray, there are several enormous terraced circular depressions that our guide said were used to study the effects of different climatic conditions on crops such as quinoa, wheat and other plants - an Incan agricultural laboratory. The largest pit is about 30 m deep and the temperature, from the top to the bottom, drops by about 15 degrees C.There is a very sophisticated irrigation system that channels water to and away from the plants. 

From Moray, we went to the pre-Incan salt mines in Maras. Actually, they are not mines at all. A subterranean stream of salty, warm water comes out of a mountain. The flow of water is directed into an intricate system of small canals constructed so that the water runs slowly down onto hundred of ancient, terraced,  ponds (about 4 m square) which are very shallow. As the water evaporates from the sun filled ponds, the water becomes supersaturated and salt crystals are formed on the walls and floors of the ponds. Water is shut off to the pond and the pond goes dry. Families scrape the layers of dry salt, bag it and sell it. It is an amazing sight to see as it is huge. I am not sure if the photos really do it justice. 

We returned to Cusco and after a tasty lunch, visited a local tour guide in order to book our trip to Machu Picchu for the following day. There seemed to be so many decisions that had to be made, but in the end, we opted to start out by taking a morning bus tour of the Sacred Valley, rather than heading straight to Machu Picchu. When we reached the village of Ollantaytambo, rather than heading back to Cusco, we caught the train to Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu, where we stayed overnight, before taking a bus up the mountain to see the ruins, in the morning. 

Everything about the trip was great, including the price. The guided tour through the Sacred Valley was awesome. Our train trip, beside the rushing river and under snow-capped mountains, was a little cramped but fun. Our hotel was conveniently located and included a light breakfast. Dinner was tasty and the bus ride to the site was comfortable. Misty Machu Picchu was spectacular. Even the company was great. lol Thanks Gail and Pat!

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Franki Robinson on

Amazing photos and video!!! You have had some wonderful experiences. You should be really fit from all that hiking.
Will talk to you soon. Welcome back to Canada.

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