It was a dream to visit this beautiful country, it was made more special as it was our first trip together after marriage! Peru is a wonderful country with countless historical and cultural gems! But it’s greatest asset is its lovely people- who despite our many linguistic barriers went far and beyond to help us feel at home in this great land of theirs!
– Asad & Musbiha
We departed for Lima (Peru’s capital) from Chicago with a transit at Mexico City.
Below is our first view of Mexico City- we knew it is one of the largest cities on the planet, but we never had any idea that it was so HUGE!
The entire city of Mexico City is at an altitude of 7300+ ft! Beautiful snow capped mountains on the backdrop!
The entire city of Mexico City is at an altitude of 7300+ ft! Beautiful snow capped mountains on the backdrop!
After a few hours of transit through the capital of Mexico, we take off to go south of the equator!
After few hours, er arrived in Lima! Waiting to take off to the Imperial City of Cuzco!
Cuzco is situated at an elevation of 11,500+ ft from sea level, is situated high in the Andes mountains!
The entire city of Cuzco is surrounded by high peaks of the Andes!
We landed at Cuzco, but for the first two nights decide to stay at a slightly lower altitude city of Ollantaytambo- the body needs to gradually acclimatize to the high altitude!
So, on our way to Ollantaytambo—-
Fields of wild lavender on our way to the town of Ollantaytambo!
We were spellbound by the beauty of the nature :)
Potato and corn, two crops that are endemic to Peru that is now widely available all around the world! There are over 250 types of corn cultivated in Peru and over 3000 different types of potatoes used everyday!
Llamas and alpacas are the beasts of burden in the high altitude regions of the Andes!
An Andean girl showed us the process of using Alpaca wool to make their woolen clothes!! Andean women were weaving beautiful patterns using Alpaca wool!
A panoramic view at a stop in Chinchero, on our way to Ollantaytambo!
Chinchero! Elevation ~3700+ m (12300+ ft), talk about altitude sickness – the low density air at such high altitude causes the lungs and heart to work extra hard to maintain the oxygen level in the blood stream!
Beautiful hills and mountains were bursting with colors of various blooms- even though it was winter back in the US, here in the southern hemisphere it was summer in full swing!
Breathtaking views of the Andes!! looks like a moving painting!
Lush valleys filled with wild flowers with the majestic mountains in the backdrop!
Reached the town of Urubamba, a very peaceful city! It is at a relatively lower altitude than Cuzco!
At 9400+ ft altitude, the town of Urubamba is still quite high above the sea level!!
We saw Peruvian agriculture! Fields of crops in the Andean valleys!
After a well rested morning at our hotel in Ollantaytambo, we head out to explore the quaingt little town. The ruins of Ollantaytambo is at the backdrop!
The Ollantaytambo town square- with the majestic Andes surrounding the entire toqn!
The sun sets early in the mountains! We were catching the dying rays of the sun!
The very rapid waters of the Urubamba river! These waters will merge with the other tributary rivers and then form the mighty Amazon river system!
What we loved were the refreshing fruit juices they serve in Peru!
Nect morning we are Excited at the prospect of seeing a world wonder- The lost city of the Incas- Machu Picchu!! Peru Rail waiting to take us from the town of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo! There are no roads to Machu Picchu- railway is the only option!
We ride to lower elevation- and observe a distinct change in vegetation as we go towards Aguas Calientes!
Never have we seen such violent rivers! The Urubamba river flowing towards the Amazon Jungles!
From our train We see many marks left behind by the Incas- they were truly expert civil engineers! They prevented soil erosion by creating steps in the mountain sides and layering them with lime stones then followed by top soil so as to allow the rain water to percolate into the steps!
The bends of the Urubamba river!
We Catch a glimpse of the tail of our train as it emerges from a tunnel!
It seems there are 85 distict climate zones in Peru, this creates a wonderful biodiversity in this country!
We get off the train. The dancing waters of the Urubamba river is flowing down the mountains and off it goes to the Amazon!
A very picturesque little town indeed!
Entrance at the foot of the hill! Now we need to climb over 1300 ft to reach the citadel!!
The bus ride was hairraising at many of the turns!!
:) Machu Picchu!!
This is the only Inca city that was never found by the Spaniards who came to colonize South America! The city was closed to the general public and the knowledge of its location and existence was known only by the royalty and the nobolity of the Inca Empire!
We were literally walking through the clouds!
The fog shrouding the lost city imparts an eerie look to the whole monument!
What amazes us is how on earth did the Inca build such a beautiful city so high up in the mountains in such a short span of time (they ruled only for about a 100 years before the Spaniards completely destroyed them)
While visiting parts of machu Picchu – We took a pic at the temple of Inti (Sun) on the top and the temple of Pachamama (mother Earth) at the bottom with the three steps signifying the Inca trilogy of their cosmos!
None of these stones at Machu Picchu have mortars keeping them together- it is amazing how the lost city has stood for centuries without significant damage!
The various urban sectors of the lost city at Machupicchu!
Exotic gardens were maintained here in Machu Picchu!
The height at which the city was laid is simply dizzying to say the least!
The incas never learnt to use the wheel, so how they got such huge blocks of rocks in position is a mystery to us! (Hiram Bingham, the American archaeologist first discovered the city over a hundred years ago- He took many Incan artifacts from Peru back with him to Yale University, where many of them are still on display!)
Many of these steps were created to provide stability to the entire city- to prevent mudslides – the civil engineering technique by it self is mesmerizing! And One can hear the roars of the Urubamba river with the beginning of the Amazon rain forest in the valleys below!
Many of the steps were used for cultivation of the different crops – the differences in elevation allowed the Incas to experiment with crops growing in different climate zones!
Then we saw the educational center of Machu Picchu, some of the previleged unmarried children of the nobility were sent here in pursuit of knowledge!
The peak of another mountain Huayna Picchu shrouded with the passing clouds!
The Inca did not use time as we do, this was used more for determining the seasons of the year- notice it is made from a single piece of granite!
A wonderful view of the citadel – once again literally walking through the clouds!
We saw some wild llamas and alpacas !!
.The emperor used to come here all the way from Cuzco on his palanquin for relaxation.
The walls of the houses stand the test of time, the roofs that were made of wood and straw have all but disintegrated! The Incas sought refuge in this city once their imperial capital of Cuzco fell into the hands of the invading Spaniards! The incas had about 40 years to remove all their treasures slowly from Machu Picchu- they found absolutely no hope of evading the non quenching thirst of the Spaniards for Inca gold and silver- where they hid some of them is still a mystery!
The passing cloud reduces the visibility. The sights around are still simply breathtaking!
Steps to nowhere… or so it seems!
Somewhere at Machupicchu we see The temple of the Condor- The Inca mythology greatly reveres the condor, it is believed the Condor takes the soul of the departed to the heavens! It still looks like it is buried under the rocks but it isn’t.
This Spanish looked for this lost city very hard, but thankfully it was never found during the time of colonization!
This shot gives us a feel of the height of this place!
The path was narrow and the hike- treacherous to say the least!
There were times when the sheer altitude of the place made us think about returning! But we are grateful we didn’t!
The tiny image of Machu Picchu gives you an idea of how far and how high we had to hike to get to this place!
The winding roads visble that take us down to the foothills! We came all this way by foot! Completely drenched and exhausted, this was most likely one of the most exciting hikes we have ever taken!
The entire lost city visible from the Sun gate! They should have named it “The Hidden City”. Felt like we ere on the top of the world!
The sheer depth of the fall on the other side of the cliff is simply nauseating! As the clouds clear we get a beautiful view of the citadel! Look how far we hiked!! The mist and rain made the hike even more challenging.
Machu Picchu in its full glory! Trying our best to sketch this place in our memory!
What sheer height! What breathtaking views! Totally mesmerized!
While returning back, The citadel one last time!
Sunny morning in Ollantaytambo- all set to explore the imperial city of Cuzco!
Saying our good byes to our lovely inn keeper!
The scenery of the Sacred Valley of Peru! truly amazing! The mighty Andes forming the backbone of the continent of South America!! Wild flowers in their full bloom! Peruvians must be really proud to call this beautiful place home!!
The different plots form a beautiful tapestry! Green valleys and meadows of the Sacred Valley.
Welcome to the Imperial City of Cuzco!!!
Our hotel was a 400 year old villa of one of the Spanish nobilities! The Terra Andina Hotel.
The cobble stone streets of Cuzco….
The grand cathedrals and churches have been built on the destroyed temples and palaces of the Incas!
The court house of Cuzco!
Grounds of Korikancha, the imperial temple of the sun, today is the site of the Dominican order- it still remains as a monastery!
Then we tried out local ice creams- Lucuma and cherimoya (atafol) flavour!!
We visited then The Plaze del Armas of Cuzco- with the Cuzco cathedral in the backdrop! It is filled with many gilded Christian treasures! Unfortunately no pictures allowed inside!
The Inca foundation in Cuzco- notice the stone works of the Incas, their foundations were so strong that the Spaniards built their structures using their same foundation!
We visited an ancient Inca palace unearthed, its foundations still visible!
The lovely courtyard at the monastery! About 500 years ago, this used to be the temple of the sun exclusively used by the Inca emperor and the nobility, today it is a monastery with distinctive Spanish architecture! The monastery is still used by the monks of the Dominican order, only half of it is open to the visitors.
Legend has it that = this courtyard was filled with life size statues of men and animals in solid gold and silver all paying tribute to the sun- today nothing remains! The Spaniards stole everything, they melt the gold to make coins and send them back to Spain to stuff their royal coffers. Many of the Spanish Armada still lie at the bottom of the Carribbean carrying ill gotten gold of the Incas!
Then we went to visit the grand temple of the sun, a pilgrimage spot for the people from all over the empire, it was used by the general people!
The temple known as Saqsaywaman was one of the religious center of an empire of over 16 million inhabitants! The large rocks of Saqsawaman were put in place without any iron tools! The vast expanse of the temple gives you an idea of how many people it accomodated during peak religious occasions of the solstice.
Inca ruins at the outskirt of Cuzco!
Then we went to the temple of the water. The Spaniards destroyed as much of the old religion as possible, today only three streams of the temple still flow continuously channeling the spring water of the mountains. We enjoyed here the last rays of the sun at the temple of water which is located at an altitude of 12,300+ ft!!
Of what is left of the temple of water!
Wild flowers at the temple.
Then we went to visit the old Inca red fort of PukaPukara. We got Lovely mountainside views constantly.
Enjoyed the last rays of sun at the red fort of Pukapukara.
Next day we head to the last leg of our tour flying to the city of kings, the capital of Peru, Lima. The city of Lima is one of the only two capital cities that is situated in a desert! The other is Cairo.
Flying high over the Andes.
In Lima we went to visit The beach in Lima, Larcomar area. Saw the South Pacific for the first time. The city of Lima is located several hundred feet above the sea!
A panoramic view of the beach at Larcomar, with the setting sun in view.
We have never seen a beach of polished stones. The mighty pacific has beaten the rocks and formed a beach full of smooth stones …. not sand!
Sunset at Lima and The unending waves of the South Pacific….
Then we went to visit the Lima Fountain park! Mesmerizing to say the least. The most interesting water show I have ever seen, the images are relayed on the fountain! We enjoyed A burst of colours at the water fountain!
We walked through inside a water tunnel…
Took pictures at the Magic Water Circuit in Lima!
The grand fountain of the Peruvian capital, at the Magic Water Circuit, Lima.
Next day we visited Huaca Pucllana. Peru is home to many ancient civilization, Huaca Pucllana,the grand pyramid in the heart of Lima was built by the Lima Civilization! I did not know much about them until this trip.
Unlike the Incas, the Limas revered the Ocean- that explains it as it is closer to the ocean! Unlike the Incas, they used ‘book shelf’ style terra cotta architecture to build massive pyramids to pay homage to the ocean. This place truly felt like the desert, the heat, the sand and a pyramid (albeit not an Egyptian one) reminded us of the environment!
Our guide explained to us the rituals of the Lima culture. The Limas lived nearly 700 years before the Incas.
The Limas were conquered by the Waris who used the terrace of the pyramid for thier burrials.
Millions of terra cotta slabs were used to build this gigantic pyramid- a major departure from the Inca architecture of using giant polished rocks. The city of Lima is visible right at the boundary of the monument of Huaca Pucliana.
Giving you an extent of the site. The desert heat has preserved the structure!
Everywhere in Peru, we see historical gems such as this one- a very rich culture indeed.
One of the major sacrifices by the Lima people were sharks! Shark meat were often eaten during religious occasions.
Then we visited the national museum in Lima.
A pure gold dress and funerary mask at the national museum!!