Peru trip - 6th to 21st May 2006

Wed 7 Jun 2006 12:52
Title: Peru trip - 6th to 21st May 2006

In May I took a trip to Peru with my friend Kaz. As we only had two weeks we didn't try to see the whole country. Just a week in Cusco seeing Machi Picchu and the Inca sites and another week in the Peruvian jungle, relaxing and enjoying the rainforest. As the flights into Peru went via Lima we also spent a day there having a look around and shopping at the end.

After a fog-delayed flight out of Lima we headed into the Andes to Cusco, the centre of the Inca civilisation. At 3300m above sea level altitude sickness can be a problem, so we took the first couple of days to acclimatise and see the local sights.

Photos from Cusco and the Inca sites are stored here:

The Inca sites near Cusco are spectacular, probably the most amazing archeology that I've seen. The stonework is amazing, without mortar (just stone on stone), and earthquake resistant. The people used convex and concave shapes to increase the strength (rather than having flat surfaces between the bricks they rounded one outwards and the other inwards so they were cupped together), which meant the evil Spanish invaders couldn't dismantle them without gunpowder to blow them up. Ironically the Inca work is still strong whereas the Spanish buildings fall down with each earthquake.

Finally we set out on the two day Inka trail trek (rather than the 30km+ four day trek). This turned out to be the right decision as Kaz suffered with the altitude and wouldn't have survived the full four days (imho). But that didn’t diminish our enjoyment one bit. At the end of the first day we saw the amazing Winay Wayna, which was a great taste of what we'd see at Machi Picchu. Exquisite stone work and very asthetically pleasing as well.

Then we headed back down the mountain to follow the train track to Aguas Calientes as a mud slide had destroyed part of the path to Machi Picchu near the sun gate. This meant that everyone had to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes rather than taking the more traditional sun gate route. The next morning we went up to Machi Picchu early to find the entire site shrouded in a heavy mist. The mist gradually began to clear, slowly exposing more and more of the site, quite an amazing experience. By 11am it was completely clear, by which time we'd decided to head up to Wayna Picchu to see the view down over Machi Picchu (or rather I'd decided to go up there and Kaz reluctantly agreed to tag along). The path up was slippery and took a while to climb, but it was definitely worth it. The view over Machi Picchu was amazing and it helped to cement the immense size of the city. Further terraces and sites were built on Wayna Picchu as well, presumably for ceremonial and scientific purposes. It's believed that the Incas even used sites like Winay Wayna, with its many terraces covering a large range of altitude, as a research centre to find the best climate for growing different crops, as each terrace forms a micro-climate which changes from terrace to terrace!

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