It was almost by accident that I found myself in Caral. Certainly it was a lucky turn of events that resulted in my visit. My flight to Lima in Peru had reached the stage where you start searching for anything to relieve the tedium. I’m not a fan of in-flight magazines. I was so lucky to have looked at the magazine on this flight. There was an interesting article about a site called Caral, the oldest settlement in the Americas. The picture of the pyramids on the site fascinated me.
The Sacred Valley is the name given to the valley close to Cusco, which is cut by the Urubamba river. The route along the valley is important because it leads to Aquas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu. This fertile valley was very important to the Inca to produce crops to feed the population in the capital of the Inca empire. It is still an important agricultural area today. The Sacred Valley is famous for the Inca ruins which are within the valley. The most important of these sites are found at Pisac and Ollyantaytambo.
I sat on the bus climbing out of Aguas Calientes and wondered what Machu Picchu would really be like. I tried not to get excited in case I was disappointed. I got off the bus and passed through the gates into the site. The view was breathtaking. Machu Picchu is the most photogenic site I have visited. I wanted to just stand and soak up the view so that I could take it away with me. I have seen many places, but I’ve not seen an ancient city to compare.
The Lares Trek is a route through the Andes which should not be overlooked when planning a visit to Machu Picchu. Although less famous than the classic Inca trail, it is an alternative which will appeal to many walkers. I’ve been tempted to visit Machu Picchu after seeing a documentary about the site some years ago. Like many other people I had heard of the Inca trail and thought it must be a great experience. In May 2016 British Airways resumed flying to the capital of Peru in Lima after a break of many years. They were offering half price flights and it seemed like a great opportunity to fly to Peru to visit Machu Picchu, so I booked a seat on the first flight.
You’ve decided to visit Machu Picchu, it’s been on your bucket list for a long time and visiting is going to be the trip of a lifetime. You’ve heard of many people walking the Inca trail so why not you. STOP! Walking the Inca Trail is not a walk in the park. Look at the photo of the stairs above, my local park is not paved like that. But the state of the surface is not the biggest problem, it’s the altitude.
Whatever you chose to do in Cusco, do it slowly! Cusco is at 11000 feet altitude and altitude sickness is a common problem. In fact I never felt well the whole time I was in Cusco. The ironic thing is that you don’t actually have to spend time in Cusco if your only aim is to go to Machu Picchu which is at 8000 feet and altitude sickness is rarely a problem. Cusco is a necessary stopping off point for those who need to acclimatise to the altitude for a few days, before trekking at even higher altitude. It is worth exploring Cusco while acclimatising, as you are in the capital of the Inca empire. Continue reading “Things to do in Cusco”