Day 22 & Rest day 23
Trip Start Mar 17, 2010
58Trip End May 21, 2010
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Total - 500km
Juliaca is on the Altiplano, 3825 meters above sea level. It is located in the Collao Plateau and close to Lake Titicaca.
Cuzco is a city in southeastern Peru, near the Urubamba Valley (Sacred Valley) of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the Cusco Region as well as the Cusco Province. The city has a population of 348,935 which is triple the figure of 20 years ago. Located on the eastern end of the Knot of Cusco, its altitude is around 3,300 m (11,000 ft).
Cusco is the historic capital of the Inca Empire and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1983 by UNESCO. It is a major tourist destination and receives almost a million visitors a year.
The Killke people occupied the region from 900 to 1200 A.D., prior to the arrival of the Incas in the 1200s. Archaeologists discovered, on March 13, 2008, the ruins of an ancient temple, roadway and irrigation systems at Sacsayhuaman, a famed fortress overlooking the Inca capital of Cuzco. Previous carbon-14 dating of Sacsayhuaman revealed that the Killke culture constructed the fortress in the 1100s. In 2007, excavations uncovered another temple on the edge of the fortress, indicating religious as well as military use of the facility.
Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire (1200s-1532). Many believe that the city was planned to be shaped like a puma.
The first Spaniards arrived in the city on November 15, 1533. Spanish buildings were juxtaposed atop the massive stone walls built by the Inca. A major earthquake in 1950 badly destroyed the Dominican Priory and Church of Santo Domingo, which were built on top of the impressive Coricancha (Temple of the Sun). The city's Inca architecture, however, withstood the earthquake. Many of the old Inca walls were thought to have been lost after the earthquake, but the granite walls of the Coricancha were exposed, as well as many walls throughout the city. While some wanted to restore the buildings to their colonial splendor, a contingent of Cusco citizens urged city officials to retain the exposed walls. Eventually they won. Thankfully.
In 1950 another earthquake shook the city causing the destruction of more than a third of the city's constructions./
The major nearby Inca sites is Machu Picchu, which can be reached on foot by an Inca trail or by train.
Other less-visited ruins include: Inca Wasi, the highest of all Inca sites at 3,980 m (13,100 ft); Old Vilcabamba the capital of the Inca after the capture of Cusco; the sculpture garden at Chulquipalta (aka Chuquipalta, Ņusta Espaņa, The White Rock, Yurak Rumi); as well as Huillca Raccay, Patallacta, Choquequirao, Moray and many others.
We will be there at the start of the dry season when temperatures range from 4 to 22 degs.
Cusco was found in 2006 to be the spot on Earth with the highest ultraviolet light level. Don’t forget your sun block!
As headquarters to the Inca Empire, Cusco was an important agricultural region and over 2000 varieties of potato have been discovered in the Inca ruins.
Macchu Picchu (In Quechua meaning "Old Peak") is a pre-Columbian Inca site located 2,430 metres (8,000 ft) above sea level. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley in Peru, which is 80 kilometers (50 mi) northwest of Cuzco and through which the Urubamba River flows. Often referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", Machu Picchu is one of the most familiar symbols of the Inca Empire.
The Incas started building it around AD 1430 but was abandoned as an official site for the Inca rulers a hundred years later at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. Since it was not plundered by the Spanish when they conquered the Incas, it is especially important as a cultural site and is considered a sacred place. Machu Picchu was built in the classical Inca style, with polished dry-stone walls. Its primary buildings are the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, and the Room of the Three Windows. These are located in what is known by archaeologists as the Sacred District of Machu Picchu. It is likely that most of its inhabitants were wiped out by smallpox before the Spanish conquistadores arrived in the area. Another theory maintains that Machu Picchu was an Inca "llaqta", a settlement built to control the economy of these conquered regions. Yet another asserts that it may have been built as a prison for a select few who had committed heinous crimes against Inca society. Research conducted by scholars, has convinced most archaeologists that Machu Picchu was an estate of the Inca emperor, Pachacuti. In addition there is evidence that the site was selected because of its position relative to sacred landscape features such as its mountains, which are purported to be in alignment with key astronomical events that would have been important to the Incas.
And still another theory is that it is an agricultural testing station, the purpose of which is to test different types of crops in the many different microclimates afforded by the location and the terraces.
Although the citadel is located only about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Cusco, the Inca capital, it was never found by the Spanish and consequently not plundered and destroyed, as was the case with many other Inca sites. Over the centuries, the surrounding jungle grew over much of the site, and few knew of its existence. On July 24, 1911, Machu Picchu was brought to the attention of scholars by Hiram Bingham, an American historian employed as a lecturer at Yale University. Bingham was led up to Machu Picchu by a local 11 year old Quechua boy named Pablito Alvarez. Bingham undertook archaeological studies and completed a survey of the area. Bingham coined the name "The Lost City of the Incas", which was the title of his first book.
Bingham had been searching for the city of Vilcapampa, the last Inca refuge and spot of resistance during the Spanish conquest of Peru. In 1911, after years of previous trips and explorations around the zone, he was led to the citadel by Quechuans. These people were living in Machu Picchu, in the original Inca infrastructure. Bingham made several more trips and conducted excavations on the site through 1915, carrying off artifacts. He wrote a number of books and articles about the discovery of Machu Picchu in his lifetime.
Machu Picchu is 80 kilometers northwest of Cusco, located about 2,450 meters (7,710 feet) above sea level that is around 1,000 m lower than Cusco. As such, it had a milder climate than the Inca capital. It is one of the most important archaeological sites in South America and the most visited tourist attraction in Peru.
From atop the cliff of Machu Picchu, there is a vertical rock face of 600 meters rising from the Urubamba River at the foot of the cliff. The location of the city was a military secret, and its deep precipices and mountains provide excellent natural defenses. The Inca Bridge, an Inca rope bridge, across the Urubamba River in the Pongo de Mainique, provided a secret entrance for the Inca army. Another Inca bridge to the west of Machu Picchu, the tree-trunk bridge, at a location where a gap occurs in the cliff that measures 6 meters (20 ft), could be bridged by two tree trunks. If the trees were removed, it would leave a 570 meters (1,900 ft) fall to the base of the cliffs, also discouraging invaders.
The city sits in a saddle between two mountains, with a commanding view down two valleys and a nearly impassable mountain at its back. It has a water supply from springs that cannot be blocked easily, and enough land to grow food for about four times as many people as ever lived there. The hillsides leading to it have been terraced, not only to provide more farmland to grow crops, but to steepen the slopes which invaders would have to ascend. There are two high-altitude routes from Machu Picchu across the mountains back to Cusco, one through the sun gate, and the other across the Inca bridge. Both could be blocked with ease if invaders should approach along them. Regardless of its original purpose, it is strategically located and readily defended. The central buildings of Machu Picchu use the classical Inca architectural style of polished dry-stone walls of regular shape. The Incas were masters of this technique, called ashlar, in which blocks of stone are cut to fit together tightly without mortar. The Incas were among the best stonemasons the world has seen, and many junctions in the central city are so perfect that it is said not even a blade of grass fits between the stones.
Peru is a highly seismic land, and mortar-free construction was more earthquake-resistant than using mortar. The stones of the dry-stone walls built by the Incas can move slightly and resettle without the walls collapsing. Inca walls show numerous design details that also help protect them from collapsing in an earthquake. Doors and windows are trapezoidal and tilt inward from bottom to top; corners usually are rounded; inside corners often incline slightly into the rooms; and "L"-shaped blocks often were used to tie outside corners of the structure together. These walls do not rise straight from bottom to top but are offset slightly from row to row.
The Incas never used the wheel in any practical manner. Its use in toys demonstrates that the principle was well known to them, although it was not applied in their engineering. The lack of strong draft animals as well as terrain and dense vegetation issues may have rendered it impractical. How they moved and placed enormous blocks of stones remains a mystery, although the general belief is that they used hundreds of men to push the stones up inclined planes. A few of the stones still have knobs on them that could have been used to lever them into position; it is believed that after the stones were placed, the Incas would have sanded the knobs away, but a few were overlooked.
Macchu Picchu is composed of 140 structures or features, including temples, sanctuaries, parks, and residences that include houses with thatched roofs. There are more than one hundred flights of stone steps–often completely carved from a single block of granite–and a great number of water fountains that are interconnected by channels and water-drains perforated in the rock that were designed for the original irrigation system. Evidence has been found to suggest that the irrigation system was used to carry water from a holy spring to each of the houses in turn.
According to archaeologists, the urban sector of Machu Picchu was divided into three great districts: the Sacred District, the Popular District to the south, and the District of the Priests and the Nobility.
Located in the first zone are the primary archaeological treasures: the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. These were dedicated to Inti, their sun god and greatest deity. The Popular District, or Residential District, is the place where the lower class people lived. It includes storage buildings and simple houses. In the royalty area, a sector that existed for the nobility, includes a group of houses located in rows over a slope, the residence of the Amautas (wise persons) was characterized by its reddish walls, and the zone of the Ņustas (princesses) had trapezoid-shaped rooms. The Monumental Mausoleum is a carved statue with a vaulted interior and carved drawings. It was used for rites or sacrifices. As part of their road system, the Inca built a road to the Machu Picchu region. Today, tens of thousands of tourists walk the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu each year, acclimatizing at Cusco before starting on a two- to four-day journey on foot from the Urubamba valley up through the Andes mountain range to the isolated city.
The Intihuatana stone, which is found in Machu Picchu, is one of many ritual stones in South America and is believed to have been designed as an astronomical clock or calendar. The Spanish did not find Machu Picchu so the Intihuatana Stone was not destroyed as many other ritual stones in Peru were. These stones are arranged to point directly at the sun during the winter solstice. The name of the stone (coined perhaps by Hiram Bingham III) is Quechua: inti means 'sun', and wata- is the verb root 'to tie, hitch (up)' ('huata-' is simply a Spanish spelling). The Quechua -na suffix derives nouns for tools or places. Hence inti watana is literally an instrument or place to 'tie up the sun', often expressed in English as the "The Hitching Post of the Sun" because the stone was believed to hold the sun in its place along its annual path in the sky. At midday on March 21 and September 21, the equinoxes, the sun stands almost above the pillar—casting no shadow at all.
The Intihuatana stone was damaged in September 2000 when a 450 kg (1,000-pound) crane fell onto it, breaking off a piece of stone the size of a ballpoint pen. The crane was being used by a crew hired by J. Walter Thompson advertising agency to film an advertisement for a beer brand. "Machu Picchu is the heart of our archaeological heritage and the Intihuatana is the heart of Machu Picchu. They've struck at our most sacred inheritance," said Federico Kaufmann Doig, a Peruvian archaeologist.