Hello Chile

30 01 2009

We left Arequipa early in the morning for Tacna, close to the border with Chile.  We saw a Chilean couple we met on the overnight bus from Cuzco to Arequipa on the next bus from Arequipa to Tacna, as they were headed home from a vacation in Peru.  The bus ride south of Arequipa is through a vast desert, and lasted about half a day.  We schemed that since the Chileans knew how to get home better than we knew how to cross the border, we would follow them through the trans-border transportation and customs process.   At Tacna, we followed them to the international bus terminal, through the throngs of unscrupulous taxi touts and other vendors.  They noticed we were following them when instead of arriving at the bus station for departures and the secret and easy access doorway to Chile, they arrived at: Read the rest of this entry »


Buildings of Peru

29 01 2009
Stone roof supports at Machu Picchu

Stone roof supports at Machu Picchu

Peru has a whole range of building construction styles, from the ancient to the modern. The ruins had three main types:

1. The finely made stone buildings which had the entire walls made of stone, and covered with wooden and thatch roofs (common at Machu Picchu and other ceremonial sites) with varying degrees of quality stonework. These often included stone pegs extending from the walls and carved stone rings to tie down and support the roofing rafters.

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Goodbye Peru

28 01 2009

After finishing with Machhu Picchu and Aquas Calientes, we returned back to Pisac,  Cuzco and then Arequipa.  We bought some more alpaca wool tourist items, saw a few museums we missed, and had some few remaining Peruvian food dishes.  Jason ate some guinea pig in Pisac (tastes like dark meat from a turkey).  Read the rest of this entry »

Aguas Calientes – Putucusi

26 01 2009
Putucusi, the climb up to the top

Putucusi, the climb up to the top

Putucusi is a large mountain across the river from Machu Picchu, a little down the road from Aguas Calientes.  After going to Machu Picchu and getting a good break in the weather for our hike up Wayna Picchu, we decided to use our extra day (train tickets to and from Aguas Calientes are bought in advance)  to climb Putucusi. Read the rest of this entry »

Machu Picchu

25 01 2009
Alpaca at Machu Picchu

Alpaca at Machu Picchu

We made it to Aquas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) on the train from Ollanytaytambo with a light rain and overcast skies. As the train got closer to Machu Picchu, we went from an arid desert environment with cacti and dry bushes on the hillsides to a lush jungle. The train followed the Urubamba River, which has grown with the rain and now is dark with sediment, like a river of chocolate milk crashing it’s way down to the Amazon through boulder strewn rapids. Read the rest of this entry »

Sacred Valley – Ollantaytambo

24 01 2009
Ollantaytambo (hilltop ruins above town)

Ollantaytambo (hilltop ruins above town)

We took a bus down the Urubamba River valley (Sacred Valley) from Pisac to the town of Ollantaytambo (Ollantay for short), getting closer to Machu Picchu. Ollantay is in the same narrow valley between looming mountains as Pisac, with even larger snow capped Andean peaks visible further in the distance. It’s also a last stop for those getting ready to hike the ‘Inca Trail’. The small town has the original street layout as in the times of the Incas, with little stone lined drainage ditches and stone footbridges on one side of the street. Many of the same Inca stone foundations are used for the current buildings in the town, and with the narrow cobblestone streets, it makes you feel as if you are back in the time of the Inca, with the locals from the small town chatting with each other in the small streets. Read the rest of this entry »

Sacred Valley – Pisac

23 01 2009
Sacred Valley and Urubamba River

Sacred Valley and Urubamba River

We took a collectivo taxi (a mini van filled with locals and us) over the mountains from Cuzco to Pisac, which is in the ¨Sacred Valley¨, along the Urubamba River. The Sacred Valley has massive mountains on either side of the river, with flat farmland in the bottom of the valley. There are amazing terraces way up on the steep hillsides, we can´t imagine hiking all the way up there to make stone terraces and then farm these remote and high fields, but evidently someone did it. They even included both normal stairs and stones inserted into the walls to allow them to move up through the terraces (see photo of Alexa below). The Urubamba River started way back when we crossed from the altiplano around Puno over into the Cuzco area, and eventually flows into the Amazon River. Read the rest of this entry »