The magical Andes - June 2015
Steve and Jo at Machu Picchu
Huros Mother with child on floating island
Inca statue near Machu Picchu
On arrival in Lima from Buenos Aires, Jo and I felt full of anticipation, both of us having wanted to explore Peru for many years. We then took another plane into the Andes Mountains to reach Cusco, once the heart of the Inca empire. The old town of Cusco is incredibly exotic, particularly as it was a week of festivities with tons of colourful clothing, masks, bizarre statues and effigies, plus dancing and music echoing through the streets. The buildings look Spanish, but many of the people have Inca descendants and some still dress in traditional clothes of the region.
We visited three fantastic Inca sites near Cusco... Tambomachay with underground springs, Qenqo surrounding a huge rock, and impressive Sacsayhuaman, a ceremonial complex with massive stone walls, still used today where we saw preparations for the Inti Raymi festival...
Then on through the Sacred Valley through high rocky mountains by train, following the Urubamba River into the deep jungle region of Machu Picchu, the most famous Inca site and one of the great wonders of the world. As we climbed steps on the Inca trail, this magnificent place suddenly appeared out of the heart of a cloud, even more stunning than you can possibly imagine it to be. It was wonderful to see brilliant sunlight take over, whilst clouds still clung to the Inca's sacred rain mountain... This enormous complex was an amazing experience. We particularly loved the extraordinary ceremonial places within, such as the Temple of the Three Windows, where at mid winter the sun hits a sacred stone to create a magical symbol in shadow, the nearby solstice temple with its stone sundial, the Temple of the Sun with the world of the dead and Mother Earth beneath, Temple of the Condor revealing huge condor wings... In fact the whole complex is in the shape of a condor. A place of incredible magical atmosphere and the high point of the trip...
We returned to Cusco and travelled by bus to Puno on Lake Titicaca, along the way visiting some more wonderful Inca and pre-Inca sites, including impressive Raqchi. At nearly 4000 metres, Lake Titicaca is one of the highest lakes in the world. We managed to avoid altitude sickness by drinking their coca tea... we visited Taquile island and also the incredible man made floating islands of the Uros people. We were invited into a home, a small one room house made of reeds, and they took us out on one of their boats which look like miniature versions of Viking long ships with mythical beasts at the helm. This was in all an amazing experience.
Jo and I loved every minute in Peru. The people are incredibly friendly, and from the highest snowy peaks to the lush rainforest, Peru is a land of amazing perspectives and wonderful extremes with a fascinating mixture of cultures and history.
Many thanks as well to Condor Travel and Thames travel... We look forward to returning as soon as possible!
Steve with lamas on excursion near Cusco
Floating community on Lake Titicaca
Huros floating island women sing for the departing boat
Steve in the high mountains between Cusco and Lake Titicaca
Sunlight on sundial at Machu Picchu
Steve in Cusco