Kevin and Tina say goodbye once again to Gary and the beautiful Rocky Mountains to travel “Round The World” for the next five and a half weeks spanning six continents and 13 countries on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure to see the great wonders of the ancient, modern and natural world!
First stop is Lima, Cusco and Aguascalientes Peru for four days. Peru population is 30.4 million while Lima population is 9.7 million and is the fifth largest city in the Americas.
And we’re off…
We just arrived at the Denver airport Tuesday morning ready to embark on our big adventure. We will be landing in Lima Peru tonight then it’s off to Cusco, the former capital city of the Inca empire deep in the Andes mountains, for the remainder of the week. Fortunately, there is only a one hour time difference on the first leg of our trip so we can ease into our travels.
Tina settles into her Business Class accommodations on the first flight of many to come. I hope this does not set a new precedent for air travel. It’s really really nice.
Glassware. Get out!
Six and a half hours away from our first official country. We should be in Lima by 10:30 p.m. central time.
We arrived Wednesday morning at our hotel in Cusco. Travel time was just under 24 hours door-to-door. The weather here is sunny and cool (54 degrees). We are heading out for breakfast and a little outdoor relaxation before our afternoon city tour begins. They recommended I have some coca leaf tea to help relieve any altitude sickness at our 11,150 foot elevation. When in Rome…
On our way to breakfast, Tina couldn’t resist the chance to hold a baby Alpaca and pose with it’s mother.
After breakfast, we walked to the Plaza De Armas at the center of Cusco to enjoy the spectacular sites and admire all the colorful people.
Our afternoon tour began at Qorikancha, also called Intiwasa or Sun Temple, which was originally constructed by the first emperor of the Inca civilization. The temple was later enlarged by Pachacuti, the emperor who also built Machu Picchu. In the sixteenth century the Spanish destroyed Qorikancha and built the Convento De Santo Domingo Del Cusco on top of the remaining smooth basalt foundations of the ruins.
Next we visited the Basilica De La Cathedral. It is a massively impressive structure and is the main Catholic cathedral in Cusco.
Next we travelled to the northern outskirts of Cusco to visit Sacsayhuaman, an ancient walled complex at around 12,000 feet constructed by the Incans with large polished stones cut to fit together tightly without mortar.
We then continued up the mountain to Pukapukara, “red fortress” and Tambomachay, an ancient aqueduct and military outpost.
Finally we stopped off at Q’enqo, an ancient astronomical observatory comprised of a large carved limestone outcrop that contains a labyrinth.
Back at the Plaza De Armas we head over to our new favorite restaurant Jack’s for dinner then back to the hotel and bed. We depart at 5 am on Thursday by car, train, bus and foot to visit Machu Picchu, the first of several ancient world wonders on our journey.
We packed up and left Cusco at 5 am Thursday morning. A winding 1 hour and 45 minute drive through the mountains and hills and we arrived in Ollanta.
On the train for a very comfy 1 hour and 45 minute ride along the river to the beautiful town of Aguascalientes.
From Aguascalientes we took a 27 minute bus ride up the mountain to the base of Machu Picchu.
At the base of Machu Picchu it was only a short hike to the first of many “wow” factors.
First stop on the trail we see Huanya Picchu which translates to “Young Peak”.
We continue up the trail a short distance to the next stop that reveals the full extent of the world’s newest modern wonder.
From here we enter the main entrance to the estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti who authorized it’s construction in 1450.
Once inside the estate there were lots of amazing sites to see.
Here is one of the stone quarries that remained intact from the time the estate was abandoned.
The Andean mountains are home to both the smallest and largest orchid flowers in the world.
Here is stone representation of the southern cross with the four points of the compass all pointing in their respective directions.
This sun dial was the main timepiece for the estate. Peru’s version of Big Ben.
Here is our tour guide demonstrating how the Inca priests would give praise to the young peak from a special carved stone bench.
Here is Tina giving it a try 500 years later.
On the backside of the estate you can see the Sacred Valley below.
Here we descended further down into the estate. Watch out for llamas on the prowl.
Here are some examples of what the estate would have looked like with the thatched roofing that was common in that period.
On the frontside you can see the enormous Andean mountains along with one of the main tributaries that feeds the Amazon river.
Here we see Tina asking questions about the sun and moon vessels.
In the background you can see the actual Machu Picchu which translates to “Old Peak”. The terraces below the peak are one of the most impressive features of the site.
One of the last stops inside the estate was condor temple where they believe llamas were blood sacrificed as part of Inca rituals to the god of the sky (notice how the rocks form wings on both sides).
Tina resting towards the end of the tour. There seems to be only one thing missing from this sunny picture perfect day. Hmmm…?
There’s our little guy!
After a long day we headed back down to Aguascalientes to walk around town and drink in a little local Peruvian culture.
We finished off the evening with a nice dinner then off to bed. Tomorrow we head back up to hike to the sun temple and Inca bridge.
The next morning we awoke to rain. The Urubamba river below our hotel room window was rushing fast and powerful. Looking outside our window you really get a feel for how a typical Peruvian lives.
We thought about having our laundry done (laundry sign in yellow) while we visit Machu Picchu on Friday but then decided to just wait.
Although it was lightly raining the whole day, the misty clouds and wet surfaces made for a unique perspective of the estate that was in stark contrast to yesterday’s sunshine.
Outside the entrance Tina finds a stray friend to feed.
On our way out of Aguascalientes.
Peruvian entertainment on the train. Tina was less than thrilled.
After the train ride Tina finds another little friend. Tomorrow we spend the morning back in Cusco then it’s off to our next destination.
We started off Saturday morning, our last day in Peru, having breakfast at our favorite restaurant on Cusco.
After breakfast we toured around Cusco to see the sites, feed bacon to stray dogs, and visit the Inca Museum.
Some of the more colorful locals.
Of course our visit to Peru would not be complete without a little shopping.
Finally we checked out of the hotel and were back on the plane. With the curtain to economy class pulled shut, Tina was able to catch up on her sleep.
So we say so long to the Southern Hemisphere for now (until we reach Australia). With a brief layover in El Salvador, we’ll be on our way to Istanbul Turkey.