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The end of 2006 and Christmas was looming (not a time of year I particularly enjoy). I didn’t have a plan … Friends of mine were travelling in South America for a few months, and I had an impending work trip to San Francisco. I figured as I was going to be on that side of the Atlantic…

Unusually for me I got myself together quick sharp and hastily arranged the necessary flights. Christmas problem solved!

I met up with my friends in Cusco after the work bit was done. The first few days were all about acclimatising to the altitude. So decided to take it easy, let the tourist bus take the strain and do a half day city tour.

First stop Qorikancha – Temple of the Sun for an impressive example of Inca construction.

Next stop more Inca ruins just outside Cusco city at Sacsayhuaman (or sexy woman as the locals like to get the Gringos to call it). The day was rounded off by a visit to wool outlet where all manner of Alpaca garments were being sold and where we were given a lesson in telling the difference between the real Mckoy and the not so genuine article.

By the end of the first day the effects of the altitude had really started to kick in I had a banging headache and felt really rough despite having drunk loads of coca tea during the day to try and stave off the symptoms.

We had a day mooching around Cusco planned for the next day so I took myself off to bed early in the hope I’d be feeling well enough to go gallivanting by the morning. Luckily a good night’s rest seemed to do the trick, headache gone but lack of oxygen in the air took it’s toll and I was still panting for breath on the least exertion (like brushing my teeth!).

We had a full day tour of the Sacred Valley booked for day 3.

We headed off early on the bus, first stop the market at Pisac. After a fairly quick mooch around and a few purchases it was back on the bus. We stopped off in Urubamba for a jolly nice buffet lunch which included llama stew, trout and all manner of other delicious things.

Next it was onward to Ollantaytambo for some more Inca Ruins. Final stop of the day was Chinchero, then it was back to Cusco tired, but happy after a day of driving through beautiful scenery and getting totally Inca’d out our heads full of fascinating information about Inca civilisation and construction methods.

That night was our final night in Cusco for a few days as next up we were off on a 4 day hike along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The whole experience was pretty awesome (though there were a few points of pain!), and afterwards we got the bus down to the town of Aguas Calientes where we hung out for a few hours before getting the train back to Ollantaytambo.

The train journey was fantastic. As tourists we weren’t allowed to get the local train but the tourist train was very entertaining. Peru rail staff laid on a bit of traditional dancing and modelled the latest fashionable Alpaca garments for us in a very light hearted way that had staff and tourists alike cracking up.

As if the entertainment wasn’t enough the train passed through more stunning countryside.

All too soon we reached Ollantaytambo and had a mad scramble to find our bus and get back to Cusco for the night.

The following day headed off to Puno. The six hour bus journey meant another early start but we were rewarded with yet more unbelievably stunning countryside. Mountains all around us, valleys, plateaus, rivers, small towns and villages, farmland and blue, blue, skies.

In Puno we sorted out our lodgings for the night and our tour to the Uros Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca for the following morning. Then headed out for a wonderful meal of soup, salad, trout and a very welcome desert of fruit salad (bit deprived on the trail).

Puno was our last night in Peru and by now I was dealing with the altitude a whole lot better.

The time in Peru was a fantastic experience but next we were on to pastures new… the other side of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia, about 6 hours away by bus .

More pictures of this trip in the Peru Gallery on my blog.



Click on a picture to enlarge it and get a short description of the place

Cathedral, Cusco, Peru


Qorikancha, Temple of the Sun, Cusco, Peru


Sacsayhuaman Inca ruins, Cusco, Peru


Andean weaving, Pisac, Peru


Ollantaytambo, Peru


Lunch stop, Inca Trail
Inca Trail


Machu Picchu, Peru
Machu Picchu


Aguas Calientes, Peru
Aguas Calientes


Andean woman, Puno, Peru


Uros floating islands, Peru
Uros Islands

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