Monday, April 27, 2015
After Mach Picchu we returned by train to Ollantaytambo and explored the Sacred Valley and Cusco for a couple days. Here is where it really starts to hit home, how incredible the Inca Civilization was and how much the accomplished in just 100 years before the Spanish destroyed them.
Cusco was the royal city and many of the buildings today are still built on solid Incan foundations. What an experience to stroll down little alleyways, with impressive Incan walls, and Spanish architecture on top of them.
As we stopped very briefly on the train ride, this lovely woman was hoping to sell a bouquet of flowers to someone on the train. Dave leaned way down out of the window and grabbed them and gave her some money. Everyone in the train applauded!
Carolyn was happy with her flowers as well!
Ollantaytambo Incan Ruins - the second most important after Machu Picchu.
Our guide, Marcial, describes the Incan ingenuity.
The huge blocks fit together perfectly without any mortar!
Incan foundations and Spanish architecture on top in Ollantaytambo.
A comfortable ride
A farmer feeds his alpaca.
Bright colors in the Chinchero Market Place
We bought beautiful table runners from this man.
This is just a small part of the big market
Cusco Main Square by night
Brightly colored balconies on Cusco's Main Square. The far left is our Hotel!
Incan foundations in Cusco
Dennis and Leora at Qorykancha
Saqsywaman - the Citadel above Cusco City
Hold it up Liz!
Walking past the gigantic walls at Saqsywaman
Saturday, April 25, 2015
Ahhhhh, Machu Picchu!! Truly the highlight of our trip!
Friday we flew from Lake Titicaca to Cusco and then took a bus through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo where we boarded the InkaRail Train for Aguas Calientes, our home for 2 nights in the village below Machu Picchu. The train ride itself was spectacular.
But Saturday we spent the day in Machu Picchu. You just always expect clouds and rain there, but we awoke to blue skies and a gorgeous day. We took the bus way up the mountain on switchback after switchback and arrived at the site. Wow! It's such an amazing place.
We took photos for about 45 minutes and then had a tour with our guide Freddy for 2 1/2 hours through the site. It was fascinating to hear him explain the history of the Incas and Machu Picchu.
In the afternoon some of us hiked up to the Sun Gate for incredible views.
First view of the Sacred Valley and the town of Urubamba
Beautiful cultivated fields enroute to the Sacred Valley
Our InkaRail train to Aguas Calientes
The Andes here have real glaciers!
The wild Urubamba River
Climbing up the path into Machu Picchu
Lora is so excited to actually be here!
Our first views and photos
3 Siblings - Vaughn, Kent & Twila
Group Photo above Machu Picchu
The Sun Temple - an astronomical wonder
Vaughn framed in a doorway with Huayna Picchu in the background
Dennis and Leora head down through the ruins
Paul takes a rest on the way up to the Sun Gate
Beautiful wildflowers along the way
Even giant orchids
Approaching the Sun Gate after over an hour of climbing
These are the switchbacks we took by bus - Machu Picchu on top of the hill
Ruth, Lora, Breann, Dave & Carolyn at the Sun Gate
The hardy hikers!
Breann enjoys the view from the Sun Gate
Machu Picchu from above, in the late afternoon sun
Far less people in the late afternoon
One more close-up view of the ruins, with Huayna Picchu in the background
Farewell shot with a nice llama in the foreground!
Thursday, April 23, 2015
The wonders continue! This is a lot of photos for one post, but we have just seen and done so much it's hard to cut things out!
Wednesday we retraced our steps from Colca Canyon toward Arequipa over the high pass and then took the turn-off to Puno and Lake Titicaca. This time we stopped up at 16,000 feet elevation for photos. It's incredible to be able to drive to that elevation. There was new snow on all the high mountains from the night before so the drive to Lake Titicaca was spectacular!
Before arriving in Puno, we visited ancient Incan and pre-Incan tombs in Sillustani.
Thursday was a most colorful days, as we took a boat out to the floating islands of Uros and visited the people there. It's remarkable how they build their islands using compact blocks of reed roots, then place many layers of reeds on top of that. Their whole life is out in the middle of the lake.
New snow on the high Andes. This massif is the continental divide between the Amazon drainage going to the Atlantic, and the Colca drainage going to the Pacific.
Our hardy group at 16,000 feet above sea level!
Mountain Panorama from the top of the pass
Volcano Sabancaya continues to spew steam.
Dave's watch shows the elevation...... 16,040 feet above sea level!
Picnic at a glorious spot above Lake Lagunillas
Lots of Tuk Tuks (moto-taxis) in Juliaca
Shepherd lady with her herd of alpaca
Ancient Incan tomb at Sillustani
Wendi above a beautiful vista at Sillustani
Valeta gets to hold a baby vicuna.
Heading out of Puno harbor for Lake Titicaca
Arriving at the Floating Islands
Our guide, Zulema, explains the culture of the islands
How cute is that?
The people display their handicraft (extremely high quality!)
The locals learned each of our names and clapped for each one to welcome us.
The ladies on the island wanted to keep Valeta as one of their own!
Vaughn, Lora, and Breann didn't do too badly either!
Our ride on the "Mercedes Benz" boat made of reeds and plastic bottles!
Bidding us farewell from the island
Walter, the artist, rows us over to the other side.
Later we arrive on Taquile Island for a very different cultural experience.
The people here are Quechua, and descendants of the Incas.
View of Lake Titicaca and Bolivia from Taquile Island
One of the island Elders
Paul demonstrates the hair outfit used in the island festivals.
After a wonderful lunch we get a display of local dance.
The dancers say good bye before we exit through the gate and head down to the boat.