Journey to Cusco and City tour

Trip Start Jan 24, 2011
Trip End Mar 31, 2011

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

We decided to put two days into this post. We left Puno at 6am on the Inka Express. This is a bus that runs between Puno and Cusco that takes about 9 hrs but stops at several places along the route to see the sites. It is actually really fun and the stops make the journey go fast. It was made even better by our guide who was really knowledgeable and fun.

Our first stop was Pucara ( 3879 meters ) where we visited a local museum to see pre-Inka artifacts. We also were introduced to the practice of placing two bulls on the roof of you home once it has been finished. This came from the Spanish but it's really funny to see all these houses with two small bulls on the roofs.

After Pucara we continued our ascent to La Raya which was the highest point between Puno and Cusco. At 4318 meters it quite a site to see. There are snow capped mountains on both sides that extend into the clouds. As you descend from the peak, the landscape changes and you can start to see trees and all sorts of other green pastures and plants that don't exist on the Altiplano. We had to say goodbye to the Aplaca as well since they really don't like being in the lower altitudes.

After stopping for lunch we visited Raqchi. This was a charming small town that is right next to a Inka site which houses the Temple of Wiracocha, an enormous two-story structure that measures 92 metres by 25.5 metres. There are also several other Inka areas for storing grain and housing the inhabitants.

The most impressive thing we saw along our trip to Cusco was the Cathedral at Andahuaylillas. It was built by Jesuits in the 16th century over on top of an Inka Temple. The original cathedral had murals on every wall as well as the ceiling. Later the Dominicans, which wanted to out do the Jesuits, hung large paintings and build huge altars which obscured most of the Jesuits paintings. The cathedral is something that has to be seen to appreciate. It is presently undergoing extensive renovations to restore it to its full splendour.

The next day we took a city tour of Cusco. The first stop was the Basilica Cathedral and the Convento De Santo Domingo Del Cusco. Both of theses sites were quite impressive and again were built on an Inka temples. In the Convento, they discovered the Inka temple walls after an earthquake exposed the huge stones under the plaster. The original Inka temple was covered in silver and gold plates. The walls had gold slabs two fingers thick. The gold and silver was removed by the Spanish and the Catholics later built over the ruins.

We then ventured out of the city centre and visited some rather large Inka sites. Most of these were originally temples (for water, sun ...) We visited Saqsayhuaman, Tambonachay and Q'enqo where they mummified some of the Inka upper classes. Tomorrow we venture out to the Sacred Valley.
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