To visit Machu Picchu is one of my greatest dreams and this time I am ready to fulfil it, because the previous times I always had difficulties, but this time nothing can stop this adventure in Cusco.
When I arrived in Cusco, the first thing that caught my attention was the beauty of its streets, it has beautiful architecture, its streets are cobbled, its walls are made of huge stones, I can't believe I am in the capital of the Inca empire.
It is not an exaggeration, it is really beautiful because everything you find here is really impressive, you could say that 500 years ago the Spaniards conquered these lands and imposed their Spanish culture, but in the end they could not eliminate it completely, what happened was to make a fusion of these two cultures and today you can see that.
As I mentioned, Cusco is considered the centre, the mother of the Inca civilisation and therefore still preserves its Inca constructions, you can see the diffusion of both Inca and Spanish cultures.
It is not only Machu Picchu as many people and even I thought, no, there are many Inca sites and natural attractions that you should visit.
In my case I organised 9 days of travel with the help of a tourist agency, where I will visit the city of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman, the salt mines of Maras, Moray, the Archaeological Park of Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu and the Mountain of Seven Colours, its streets, markets and everything I can visit while I am here. You should not waste every corner you are going to visit.
Now, you should know that Cusco has two seasons of climates, the first one is dry and goes from April to October, these are the months when it doesn't rain and has sunny, clear days, perfect for all kinds of trips without problems.
On the other hand, the rainy season starts in the month of November to March, there is presence of rains and sometimes it can make your trip difficult, to see Machu Picchu and to visit the other attractions. Although in this season the sites look more beautiful, as the green grass and flowers give a natural touch to each site.
It is up to you in which season you want to travel, another thing is that if you already have a fixed date to visit Cusco, Machu Picchu you must book your entrance ticket in advance because they are usually sold out weeks before, so I recommend you to book your entrance ticket to Machu Picchu, your train ticket and accommodation, those are the most important.
I am an adventurous travel lover, this time my destination takes me to one of the cities that is still alive, tells stories, shows us its culture through its archaeological remains, traditional dances, gastronomy and handicrafts.
This day I take my flight from my country to the city of Lima, the capital of Peru. We are picked up from the airport and we go to the hotel to rest, because it was a very tiring trip, the journey lasted several hours so I need a rest.
The next day we leave for the city of Cusco and we will have time to acclimatise because we are in a city above 3,000 mts even if we travel to the other sites we will climb to an altitude of more than 4,000 mts.
I wake up early and get ready to travel to Cusco, cradle of the Inca civilization, I always wanted to visit this place since I was a child, so I can finally get to know one of the most iconic constructions in South America.
This day I basically arrive in the city of Cusco and I get ready to rest in the hotel that I booked in advance with the help of a travel agency, at the end I will leave you the link of this agency.
Well, after resting we do a city tour around the city where we will know its attractions, but first we will have breakfast and this time we did it in our hotel. However, if you want to have a more traditional breakfast you have several options.
The first is to go to the San Pedro market, here you will find juices, chicken soup and broths and other foods, without going too far we go to the San Blas market which also offers juices, soups or broths; the vast majority of citizens go to these markets to eat their first breakfast.
Now, if you want something gourmet style jejejej, this is our second option and I say so because in the markets they usually increase you; and in the gourmet style restaurants they serve an exact amount, but it has exquisite flavour that fills you up, according to what I tell you choose which one you want to visit.
After breakfast, the travel agency is waiting for me to start my adventure through the majestic capital of the Inca Empire; well… we start our tour in the Plaza de Armas.
First of all, I want to tell you that I have heard a lot about this city and what caught my attention are its Inca constructions that are characterised by their architecture, style and more. I came with the emotion of knowing all its magic that it hides and shows at the same time and it surpassed all expectations.
To begin the tour, we start by walking around the Plaza de Armas, which is surrounded by colonial and Inca houses and churches.
Friends, as we know Cusco is considered as the navel of the world; in spite of having been invaded by the Spaniards this place was the capital of the Inca empire, many believe that the Inca capital was Machu Picchu for having been recognized as one of the 7 wonders of the world, but in reality the capital of the Inca empire was Cusco.
In the pre-Hispanic era it was founded by Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo who arrived here looking for the place that had been promised to them to be founded in the city, this by orders of the God Inti, father of Manco Capac.
The order was to place a golden rod in the ground, if this rod sank into the ground, the city of Cusco would be founded there and look now it is the most important Inca city that existed.
I was fascinated by so much beauty, because being there and seeing those immense colonial churches surrounding the square is like being in a dream, I continue walking around and I see what would be the Cathedral of Cusco founded and built between 1560 and 1660.
According to the guide, it was built over the palace of Wiracocha, even the stones were used to build this cathedral that were brought from Sacsayhuaman, it is really beautiful from the outside as well as inside, I would say that everything you can see is impressive.
Well I wanted to take some pictures, but unfortunately it is forbidden, but you can see a number of paintings, sculptures, murals and a variety of ancient treasures that are guarded by the staff of the Cathedral, the beauty of this cathedral is that it has a choir carved in cedar with plateresque styles.
In one of the external doors that they do not open, there is a stone huaca, where many people pay respect and leave their kintu (coca leaves), flowers and ask for protection, I could see that many of the villagers go to this huaca with respect.
In the same way there is a brown Christ known as the Lord of the Tremors, by the year 1950 there was one of the great earthquakes that Peru Cusco lived, this phenomenon had devastated with several and the people to calm all that suffering decided to take out the sculpture and by means of prayers curiously it stops moving everything; from that moment it is named as the Lord of the Tremors.
For this reason, the cathedral is one of the places that you cannot miss on your visit. It is characteristically made up of two towers and its main façade is in baroque style with some combinations of Gothic Renaissance and neoclassical styles.
The interior is impressive, as it has a variety of paintings that adorn the building, the altar is beautiful, now you must realise that the cathedral is not all that facade; there are three churches that are in the same area, the cathedral is in the middle, on the right side is the church of the Sagrada Familia and on the other side is the temple of the triumph.
In front of the cathedral there is another church called Compañía de Jesús, before being a church it was the house of the Inca Huayna Qapac, now it has a baroque style and was built by the Jesuit religious order. Inside it also displays paintings, sculptures, etc.
In the Plaza de Armas you can also see a fountain and above it is the sculpture of the Inca Manco Capaq in honour of the founder of this city. It has a beautiful park and the houses that surround the square conserve their colonial architecture with Inca remains.
After visiting the Plaza de Armas and its churches, we go to the San Pedro market, the oldest market in Cusco and the main market of the city, where you will find flavours, colours, smells and aromas.
In this market they sell everything from handicrafts, juices, food, meats, breads, breakfasts, dried and fresh fruits, flowers, herbal products and more. All the ladies are very friendly, and as far as I could see the dishes are well served.
As we walked towards San Blas we stopped in some streets and they explained to us that they were very narrow, as they were designed only for people to walk along with their llamas, alpacas and other animals. You can even see that they are paved with cobblestones and have curious names.
The streets have Quechua names such as Hatun Rumiyoc, K'aqlachapata, Qanchipata, Choquechaka among others that you can find on foot, curiously these streets have their own history.
This is the end of our visit to the city. Afterwards we will visit the archaeological centre Qoricancha, but before that you should know that to enter these tourist attractions you have to buy your Cusco Tourist Ticket which costs 70 soles (Partial Tourist Ticket) or 130 soles (Integral Tourist Ticket).
The Qoricancha or Temple of the Sun was one of the most important during the Inca Empire, and tribute was paid to the gods that were found here, such as the Sun God or the moon. According to the chronicler Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, this religious centre is in harmony with what is still standing today.
You can see a colonial construction, with pictures and paintings on the walls, when you enter you will notice that on the ceiling there are also religious paintings; there is an exhibition of the different types of stone that were used to build the Qoricancha, the stones are fine and very straight, you can see the presence of the windows in the form of niches.
The curious thing is that through the trapezoidal window you can see the perfect symmetry between them, now the construction of its walls are anti-seismic which limits the construction of taller buildings.
We continued advancing and we arrived at a mural where they show us an astronomical observatory, places of rituals, this would be known as the secret system that expanded from Qoricancha to the rest of the empire, I was amazed by so much wonder.
Further on we see a plaque showing the Andean cosmic vision that the ancestors had, then there is the sacred garden where special offerings were made and stored in these gardens.
Afterwards, we go to Sacsayhuaman, Q'enqo, Puka Pukara, Tambomachay, archaeological remains of great importance in the Inca period. First we stop at Sacsayhuaman, we show our entrance tickets (you must buy them in advance, in my case the tourist agency took care of it) and we go to the great Inca fortress with its great stone walls.
Our guide told us that only 45% of its construction can be observed, the site has some of them weighing up to 125 tons, the surprising thing is that its constructions are made of large blocks of stone that reach up to 9 meters high and you should know that one of the biggest festivals of the Tahuantinsuyo takes place here.
Yes, we are talking about the Inti Raymi or Festival of the Sun, a festival that takes place every June 24th on this date they worship the Sun God, a festivity that is passed down from generation to generation.
In the distance we see the statue of White Christ where we will go, and at the place we saw that they were selling corn with cheese, fruit, water and so we took the opportunity to buy something to keep our energy up.
Once on the bus, we went to the next point and visited Q'enqo where there is a square and on its walls there are trapezoidal windows where the mummies and important deities were placed. A magical place with underground labyrinths on stone, as it is considered a religious centre.
Then we go to Tambomachay which is a few metres beyond Q'enqo, in this archaeological centre they worshipped water and it was the Inca's resting place, as there was the Inca's bath.
We were also told that from Tambomachay you can also get to Machu Picchu, because the Inca Trail passes through there, from there we go to Puka Pukara, this was a military centre, you can see that its soil is red, hence the name "Red Fortress".
Finished this visit we return to the city of Cusco in private transport and we are dropped off at our hotels or as close as possible; we return earlier. And in the afternoon as we finished our tour we have time to visit more streets of Cusco, we went for a little walk around the Plaza de Armas, take some pictures and then to rest, because the next day we will have a little long walk.
It is already dawn and this is a very beautiful day, I get ready to go to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the next day comes the best of all, I will visit Machu Picchu, I am waiting a lot, but there is only 1 more day to go and I will be there, I am more than excited.
We leave the city at about 8:30 in the morning and pass through several villages such as Poroy, Anta, Izcuchaca and arrive in Chinchero; here we make a short stop and go up to the ruins of Chinchero, the guide tells us that over time the original name of this place was lost and by tradition today this place is known as "the city of the Rainbow" we visit the colonial church, its Inca constructions, its terraces and more.
There were also some ladies in typical Chinchero costumes selling handmade products such as ponchos, shawls, hats, etc. made of alpaca and llama wool. From there we continue our journey to Ollantaytambo.
We make a stop in Pisac, when we arrive at the entrance alone there are several stalls selling clothes, souvenirs, key rings, and more. This day we see several tourists getting off the tourist buses and going in groups to the entrance gate, it looks like a pilgrimage, just like us.
For a while I got lost from the group, but I found them hahaha…once inside I see all that immensity, those agricultural production platforms, I think it is the most impressive thing I saw; it is much bigger than Moray.
I can't believe my dear friends that the Spaniards came here to conquer the territory and took all the riches. You can see that the holes in the walls are plundered, the guide told me that these were tombs, as the Incas used to take all their belongings with them because they believed in life after death.
Then as a result, the Spaniards looted all the tombs and took precious stones like gold and all the things they were buried with. I forgot that I am on a tight schedule to see all of Pisac, as we will then go to Ollantaytambo.
In the upper part of Pisac there are some houses, as we are told that the Incas, priests, nobility and even the pre-Inca settlers possibly lived there.
Our next stop is in Ollantaytambo, after travelling along the road we arrive to this Inca city, I will keep saying wow…wow…well see those terraces, impressive steps, climb the steps all the way up.
Before entering you must show your identity card and your tourist ticket to enter following the previous story, we have to go up and it's good because it will bring down everything I asked you.
When I went there there were several tourists going up and down, it was impressive and the sun was strong, so I'm sure that by tomorrow my face will be red….jajaja that's why we must protect ourselves with sunscreen. I recommend you to use your sunscreen, water, hat and a well charged camera.
You can see that the walls are of great size, they must measure a metre 80 or a little more, I don't know if they all have that measurement, but I'm moving forward, it's high and as we go up I see that the walls still have those measurements that I gave you before.
Several people come to this village to go to Machu Picchu, well we are already at the top and it is incredible how they brought all those rocks from the other mountain, I can't believe they have superhuman strength.
The stones are perfectly joined together, and they have a different style, because the wind blows a lot up here. The stones weigh tons, but everything is magnificent. From here you can see the low gate, the village, its greenish plantations that give it a beautiful touch.
I found something curious, that if you see it from above (drone) it has the shape of a llama, right now I am standing on the head of the llama, now they say that also the streets of the town of Ollantaytambo look like a corn, the same happens with the city of Cusco that looked like a puma.
I only saw it in photos and I said this can't be that big, it's gigantic; I think that of all the archaeological sites we saw, this and Moray were the places I loved the most.
After our tour, we go to the train station to take the tourist train and go to the town of Machu Picchu or Aguas Calientes. You should keep in mind that when you have a train ticket at a certain time you should be there 1 hour or 30 minutes before, in case there is any irregularity or problem you have time to solve it.
Tonight we stay in the village of Machu Picchu to rest and have a good swim. Ready to visit the great wonder of the world, I can't wait to go up there, my heart is pounding with joy.
This is the day I have been waiting for a long time …I am nervous, anxious, anxious to finally fulfil a dream I have been waiting for a long time. I woke up very early and got everything ready to get to Machu Picchu.
Well, I only took water, snacks, a well charged camera, a cap, my documents, the tickets to enter the Inca city and all the energy.
I had breakfast and I am ready to go up, in my case the hotel gave me my breakfast so I didn't go outside, but in case you want to eat something like a broth or some food you can go to the village market, their food is tasty and there are varieties.
As I went with an agency, they helped us to buy the bus ticket to go up Machu Picchu, we only bought uphill because we wanted to walk down and see all the scenery.
Be careful, to go on the bus you have to be there half an hour before because there is a queue to get on, but don't worry, you will get there; the people in charge of the buses come checking the departure time and if you are at the back and it's your turn to leave, you go in front to get on the bus.
I am already on the bus and excited to get to Machu Picchu, from the village to the archaeological site it takes half an hour to get to the top, the nice thing about this trip is that I had never seen such big mountains and I was really surprised.
Anyway, the road has a beautiful view, the good news is that we have already arrived at the entrance gate and I can't tell you how excited I am, I have wanted to visit this place for a long time.
As expected there are many people who come to see one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, an Inca city that has been preserved for more than 600 years.
It is quite crowded, but you have space to see the surrounding mountains and gain that greenish, mountainous view, and listen to the sound of the wind, the birds and the bustle of visitors.
I climbed the first stairs and went to the bottom to get to the classical part, everything was impressive, as I saw buildings made of stone on the mountains with a very advanced engineering that hardly many people can replicate nowadays with all the technology we have.
It is actually incredible that the Incas achieved all this, everything was perfect and again you can see that each room had trapezoidal windows, according to historians they placed their deities or important characters there. There was also a small group of llamas that help the photography.
It is fantastic to see this mega construction, just to see how they built on the top of the mountain, to have that perfection in the carving of the stones and the good thing is that here you do not see any Spanish construction that has influenced, the whole monument that you see is 100% Inca.
The constructions that were built were made believing in the stars such as the Sun and the Moon and other elements, as the position of these constructions was in the direction of the Sun God.
Now, from the Guardian's House you can see the two mountains that surround this Inca village, the Huayna Picchu Mountains and Machu Picchu itself, to climb them you must buy a specific circuit.
After having travelled for 2 hours we had to return to the village on foot, and I'm not going to lie to you the descent was tedious, during the journey the landscape was very beautiful, all green with huge trees, the leaves were enormous… in short everything was beautiful.
However, I got to the lower part tired, you have to have good physical endurance, as your legs will be the ones that will support you during the descent. The good thing is that we arrived safely and continued until we reached the village.
We had time in the village and went to the Aguas Calientes pools for a dip and then to the train station to return to Cusco and rest, because the next day we are going to another magical place.
On the fifth day we get up earlier, struggling with sleep, but with the best desire to climb the summit, I head to the meeting point where I will meet the rest of the group.
The journey takes about 3 hours to get there, but we stop in the village for breakfast and continue our journey.
In this case our breakfast was a mate de muña, fruit salad and a good chicken broth. We have finished and we continue our journey, in this case it will take us at least 1 hour to get there, once we are there we start walking.
Beforehand, you should plan for a few things such as: alcohol or flowery water, a support stick for the trekking, as the hike is long up to a certain point and from there begins an ascent to reach the mountain.
I will tell you that just to get to the top took me about 40 minutes or a little more because I could not stand the altitude, as we were at more than 5000 meters altitude, imagine being at that altitude from yesterday to today, it is really strong.
I felt a little dizzy, but I had to smell the flowery water to get over it, and I had to climb slowly, resting at each stop until I got to the top, so make sure you breathe through your nose and stay strong.
It's not long to the top of the mountain, and if you feel that your head hurts I recommend you to do this exercise as I do, take a deep breath and exhale or breathe out and do it frequently and you will feel a bit of relief.
We arrived at the 7 Colours Mountain, I am happy, because this place has a beautiful view, you can see the diversity of colours, the snow-capped mountains, the people that arrive at the snow-capped mountain. It was quite an odyssey to get to the top, but it was really worth it, some very quiet alpacas were waiting for us, with whom I took photos.
We admired the natural wonder for a long time, then we tasted the alpaca chicharrón that a local woman was selling, the dish was alpaca meat together with its native boiled potato.
After a while we had to return along the same road we had climbed, but this time we had to go downhill. At the beginning it was difficult, but after that everything went smoothly, of course everyone went at their own pace.
We arrive where the car was and return to Cusco to rest and continue exploring Cusco, we stop for lunch and then return to the city of Cusco.
Today we will not travel so far, this time we are going for some short attractions that can be done in one day, I will quickly describe each place I was able to visit. First of all, I got up early, got ready and together with some friends we went to have a good breakfast at the San Pedro market.
I had been told to eat a good caldo de cabeza, as it recharges you with energy and strength to walk during the day, I'll be honest I don't like it personally, it depends on each taste.
Then I ordered a fried trout, accompanied by rice, fried potato and salad, I won't deny that I liked it, there were so many dishes to choose from in the San Pedro market, that I wanted to eat everything.
After breakfast we went to a place that attracted our attention, known as the Abode of Gods or Apukunaq Tianan, an attraction that was created recently.
You can see sculptures such as the puma, the exit of the Pachamama, the Andean man, the three-dimensional door, the doorway of the sun, there is a viewpoint that overlooks the city of Cusco and other sculptures that adorn the place. You can also make the trip by ATV to this attraction.
To get there you can hire a tour or take the public service Expreso Santiago to the end of this company and from there you must take a collective taxi and it will leave you at the door of this attraction.
After having visited the Abode of Gods, we went back to the city to continue visiting more places like the Borreguitos street, Sapantiana, the viewpoint of San Cristobal; after that we went to a restaurant where they sold píqueos and some drinks, we stayed to try some drinks and then we went to rest to continue with our trip.
A few days before the end of our tour of Cusco, we leave early for the salt mines of Maras and Moray, in this case we go in the agency's car that takes us to these two tourist attractions.
We arrive at the Salineras de Maras, an enormous salt production centre, at least there are more than 3000 thousand wells of 10 to 15 centimetres in height and those who work this salt in the dry season. We are told that at least each inhabitant is the owner of one, two or more wells, but everything is between the villagers of this village and is inherited from generation to generation.
You can see that people carry salt in a bag, another thing is that I see that they are steps and it is difficult for me to climb steps without anything, so imagine seeing these people with these bags of salt can climb.
It seems to me that in previous years it was possible to enter, but now you can only see them from the top, after having appreciated all that magic we are ready to leave, but before getting on the bus we go to see a craft shop.
The truth is that the clothes were expensive for me, so I couldn't buy them, but they were nice, I bought some small bags of grains for my way, we also see a variety of chocolates and other souvenirs.
Now we go to Moray, another archaeological ruin that functioned as an Inca laboratory where many plants, various types of vegetables, were cultivated. I see it and wow… it is impressive that this really existed.
I continue to be amazed, it is incredible that this place exists and it must be wonderful to see it from above, I honestly can't compare it to anything else, on top of that the mountains give it a different touch.
We are told that it is sown in the rainy season and in the dry season there is no production, so I understand that the Incas devised all this to generate a microclimate so that they could produce the products they planted in those planting seasons.
Definitely, it is amazing everything that can be seen, how they could form all this hundreds of years ago, on top of the shape, the symmetry that it has in the form of a circle is perfect, even the curves are well perfected and there are some floating stairs that give me to understand that they went up and down here, on top of that, in a depression, quite a feat.
We stop for lunch, as it is already late and I am too hungry. We arrive at a giant restaurant and you can tell that it works with several agencies, I say so because it had several tables, the food is a buffet where you can serve yourself the promotions you want.
I served myself a portion of quinoa graneada, noodle salad, green noodles and his prey, now to eat because I didn't have breakfast, so you can understand how hungry I was… now friends with a full belly and a happy heart as they say, we continue the journey.
After lunch we are getting ready to return to the city of Cusco, to arrive in the city of Lima. I am very sad because my days here are over, I don't want to leave, but unfortunately my holidays end here.
In part I leave happy because I had the joy of knowing Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, the city of Cusco and its other attractions; I am left with the desire to continue to know this beautiful culture, a city that still keeps its culture alive, however I promise to return.
My last day in Peru, we leave very early for the airport to board the domestic flight from Cusco to Lima.
We settled in our hotel, had breakfast and got ready to enjoy the last tour by the tourist agency Tierra de los Andes, the guide who assisted us was very good, with a lot of experience and charisma.
Today we are going to visit some colonial places in Lima, we are going to the Historic Centre of Lima to visit the Plaza de Armas, the Main Cathedral of Lima and the Torre Tagle Palace.
They are characterised by their baroque style, for example the Cathedral has a baroque style and inside this construction are the remains of the Spanish conqueror Francisco Pizarro.
Next to it you will find the Palacio Arzobispal, which has a baroque architecture and its balconies characterise its infrastructure, which is purely colonial and keeps a lot of history.
Then we will see the Palace of Government of Peru, this is an important construction, because this is where the president of Peru governs and resides, it also receives the name of Casa de Pizarro, because the conquistador also resided here.
He tells us many stories through his library which holds incunabula texts handwritten on very fine leather. Finally, the interior of the house is very impressive.
Then we go to the Torre Tagle Palace, here the chancellery works, it is said that it is one of the best representations, it has a baroque style, it has two steps, double courtyard, galleries and its beautiful balconies are flown in a way.
After touring the tourist sites in the centre of Lima, we have lunch and then we go to rest, because the next day we are going back to our country.
Again, it was a beautiful experience, I take with me the best things of Peru, its people, food, attractions and new friends, I promise to come back very soon and enjoy new attractions.