Cuzco and Machu Picchu....

Trip Start Jan 12, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Cuzco is very much the most tourist city i´ve visted in the 6 months i have been in South America. Everything is about tourism, from the free drinks at the bars to the beautiful sights of MachPicchu.
One of the firsat things you´ll come accross in Cuzco is the beautiful Praza De Armas, a stunning Praza where you can spend hours sitting in the sun people watching.
Cuzco has a great nightlife, many bars and restaurants to choose from. I was there for the World Cup semi finals that included Portugal, whilst i wasnt happy with the results i had a great time armed with my Portugal jersey!!!

Took a day trip to Pisac, a very cool town. Go on a market day for a great insight to Pisac´s culture. Took a trip up the some Inca ruins, 600 metres above Pisac. Watched the World Cup final in a bar. Those VERY lucky Italians...

Up at 3:30am to have a hearty breafast before our climp up to the sanctuary of MacchuPicchu, you can take a bus at 5:30am but that would be cheating!!! (bad enough i didnt walk the 4 day Inca trail to MachuPicchu, so the 1.5 hour hike up to the site was mandatory!!!)

Got to the top 15 minutes before the gates opened up and made our way to Sungate to watch the sun rise over the ruins. Tried my hardest not to look at them till i got to the top but the need to get a photo of the ruins before it filled with tourists won me over.
When we got to the Sungate we sat and patiently waited for the sun to cover the ruins, 45 minutes later the sun hit the ruins and 6 minutes later they were covered with a glorious day. We climbed back down to start a tour of the ruins.
it was spectacular iu have to admit, i think a little overhyped due to so much uncertainty about the 1000+ Incas who resided there but stunning regardless.
Nobody knows why MachuPicchu was ever built, it is said it was for religious ceremonial purposes, for agriculture and security. How and why they build this city up on the moutain is beyond me, and how they got water there 2 had me puzzled till i discovered there were 2 streams off the mountain that had water flowing through 16 fountains in the city.
The Incas built on what already existed on the site in 1530. So who started the construction? and why? Lots of unanswered questions....
There are far too many ruins to mention but most noteworthy were the temples of the sun and moon and the fountains. Also the climb of the surrounding moutains are worth the extra time for great views of the city.

We took the bus back down to Aguas calientes, as we descended a little Peruvian boy ran down the mountain meeting the bus at every crossroad right to the bottom. As the bus passed him all you could hear was his tiny voice screaming goodbye, adios and goodbye in some other languages i couldnt understand. Keep in mind it took us an hor and a half to climb and this kid was running down and still catching the bus where it met the path!!! Amazing. of course at the end he got in the bus and collected money for hius efforts!!! Why wasnt he at school?????

On the way back to Cuzco we stopped at Ollanytambo to visit more Inca ruins there, this time an Inca fortress. 2 noteworthy things to know about htis site. At the top is a rock shaped like a sofa, it told told incas when seasons were coming, more imprtantly when rain was coming for agriculutral purposes.
Also is the story of how rocks were transported there from the other side of the river. Apparently they brought the huge rocks to the edge of the river then diverted the water around the rocks!! Hard to describe but basically the rocks didnt move but the river would be on the other side of the rock. They´d then take the rock to the site and redivert the river to its natural flow!

Interesting fact - Peruvian trains to MachuPicchu are owned by Chile, they have a 30 year contract on the trains and lines!!! Those Peruvians keep giving all money making business away to the VERY clever Chileans!!!

HOT TIPS for travellers:
(1) Hostal in Aquas Calientes - Hospedaje Punuy Wasi - 084 502077 or 084 211190. Maria Fuentes is the contact. Will meet you at the train station. Service to the nth degree!!! The hotel looks like crap from the outside but is nice inside, it overlooks the river and you can sleep to the sound of the watewr rushing in the river below. maria will also arrange a lunch for you after your day visiting MachuPicchu.
(2) Buy your MachuPicchu entrance tickets in Cuzco, do not rely on the Aguas Calientes office like we did.
(3) Peruvian buses. Be prepared to be videotaped, fingerprinted and go through a metal detector before boarding buses north of Cuzco!! Due to terrosrist activities in the past apparently!
(4) Los Perros bar, very cool and brilliant food. Also have board games if you are bored!
(5) Take local buses from Cuzco to Ollayntambo where you cacth a train to Aguas Calientes, it is a brilliant cultural experience and way cheaper.
(6) Cheap but really friendly staff at Hostal Qorichaska on Calle ccoricalle 445. 15 Soles per night.
(7) Only have 2 days to visit MachuPicchu and the sacred valley? and/or on a tight budget? It can be done easily, just follow these steps:
(i) Up at 6am, catch a bus to Sacsayhuaman Inca ruins (15 mins), then walk 8 kilomtres passing Qenko, Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay ruins.
(ii) After Tambo Machay ruins cacth a bus to Pisac (45 minutes) and have lunch there and go to the main Praza and the markets
(iii) Catch 2 buses to Ollanytambo, great experience, truly.
(iv) having bought your train ticket before you left Cuzco you´ll catch the 8:30pm train to Aguas Calientes
(v) Check into a hotel (see above)
(vi) Up at 3:30am and walk up to MacchuPicchu or get the 5:30am bus
(vii) Leave MachuPicchu by 11am by bus to Aguas Calientes
(viii) Have lunch in Aguas Calientes and get the 1:30 train back to Ollanytambo
(viiii) Buses back to Cusco
Email me if you want more detaisl, it can be done and isnt too strenuos.
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