Saturday the 17th of May 2003 – Day 88 (Day 1 of the Inca Trail)

Saturday the 17th of May 2003 – Day 88 (Day 1 of the Inca Trail)
I got up at 6.50am to wait for my “Inca Trail” Bus. I was looking forward to the 4 day / 3 night 43km (27-mile) route which passes three formidable mountain passes, including the punishing “Dead Woman’s Pass,” to a maximum altitude of 4,200m (13,700 ft.). I had a small day pack and was renting the sleeping bag from the company for 1 US per day. They provided the tent and sleeping mat. I had a solid backpack, and comfortable, sturdy, broken-in hiking (magnum) boots. I also brought: flashlight, sunblock, poncho, tiger balm, baseball hat, micropur, sunglasses, spare batteries, camera, spare socks, spare T-shirt, jacket plus toilet stuff like lip balm, soap, quick drying towel, anti-septic ointment).

For the classic 4-day Inca Trail, the most common and economical service–pooled standard-class treks–range between $150 and $250 per person, including entrance fees ($50) and return by tourist (“Backpacker”) train ($25). I paid 135 US with South American Travel. Independent trekkers join a mixed group of travelers; groups tend to be between 12 and 16 people (maximum 20) with guaranteed daily departures. The cost includes a bus (or train) to Km 88 to begin the trek, an English-speaking guide, tents, mattresses, three daily meals, and porters that carry all common equipment. Tips for porters or guides are extra. Personal porters, to carry your backpacks and other personal items, can be hired for about $50 for the 4 days.

Inca road system

Among the many roads and trails constructed in South America, the Inca road systems in Peru are most extensive yet constructed on the South American continent. Traversing the Andes mountains and reaching heights of over 5 km (16,500 feet) above sea level, the trails connected the regions of the Inca empire from the northern provincial capital in Quito, Ecuador past the modern city of Santiago, Chile in the south. The Inca road system covered approximately 22,530 km (14,000 mi) and provided access to over three million km² of territory.

These trails were used by the Inca people as a means of relaying messages and transporting goods. The messages were carried via quipu, books, and oral methods. Messages could be carried by runners at a speed of 242 km (150 miles) per day. These would work in relay fashion much like the Pony Express of the 1860’s, in North America.

There were approximately 2,000 inns, or tambos, placed at even intervals along the 30,000 kilometers (18,640 miles) of Inca trails. The inns provided food, shelter and military supplies to the 300,000 bureaucrats who traveled the roads in this organized and civilized empire. There were corrals for llamas and stored provisions such as corn, lima beans, dried potatoes, and llama jerky. Along the roads, local villagers would plant fruit trees that were watered by irragation ditches. This enabled chasqui runners and other travelers to be refreshed while on their journeys. Rope bridges provided access across valleys with intricate steps carved up and down to the bridges.

Many of the trails converge on the center of the empire, the Inca capital city of Cusco. It was therefore easy for the Spanish conquistadors to locate the city. However, the Incas did not make use of the wheel as many western civilizations had. It was also not until the arrival of the Spanish in Peru that horses were used for transportation. Traversing the trails on horseback proved to be difficult and treacherous for the Spanish in their attempts to conquer the Inca Empire. Unaccustomed to the high altitude, weakened by the cold, and frequently ambushed by their enemies, many conquistadors lost their lives on the Inca trails.

I dropped my bag into my hotel reception and asked them to mind it until I returned on Tuesday. My bill was just 60 Soles for 5 nights accommodation. It is a quiet gaff. The bus was to arrive between 7.00 and 7.30am. I decided to pop next door for breakfast (chicken broth). I arrived back at the hotel at 7.30am. No bus, 7.50, 8.00, 8.10am .. no bus. I asked the guy from reception to ring the agency … no answer. Panic… The bus arrived around 8.20am. They said we would be walking by 11.00am. No chance. I met Faith (English) and Alex and Francis (a couple in their 40´s from Austrailia), the night before in the briefing for the trip. Nice journey to Ollantaytambo 97km (60 miles) NW of Cusco; 21km (13 miles) W of Urubamba

From Frommers
“A tongue twister of a town, this gentle, lovely little place at the northwestern end of the Sacred Valley is affectionately called Ollanta (oh-yahn-tah) by locals. Plenty of outsiders who can’t pronounce it fall in love with the town, too. The scenery around Ollantaytambo is some of the loveliest in the region. The snowcapped mountains that embrace the town frame a much narrower valley here than at Urubamba or Pisac, and both sides of the gorge are lined with Inca andenes, or agricultural terraces. Most extraordinary are the precipitous terraced ruins of a massive temple-fortress built by the Inca Pachac?tec. Below the ruins, Ollantaytambo’s old town is a splendid grid of streets lined with adobe brick walls, blooming bougainvillea, and perfect canals, still carrying rushing water down from the mountains.”

It was the start point for our walk. The craic was good and I enjoyed the nice scenery. We arrived there around 12.00 after alot of stops (peple buying ponchos, water etc), and had a nice lunch before the walk started at 14.00 hours. I bought a walking (bamboo) stick for 2 soles. Our group was finalized with two brothers from Tyrone. Damien who had been travelling for 8 months and his brother who had joined him from Ireland for the Inca Trail. He was due to fly home soon after we returned to Cuzco. Two other Brits and a USA citizen had pulled out due to sickness. Great, a nice small group of six. Many groups had up to 20 in there group. Make sure to check. To be picky you can ask the nationalities and ages of those in your group. Do you really want to trek with 20 Israelis or old folks.

Our destiantion Machu Picchu: 120km (74 miles) NW of Cusco
“The Incas hid Machu Picchu so high in the clouds that it escaped destruction by the empire-raiding Spaniards, who never found it. It is no longer lost, of course–and you can zip there by high-speed train and helicopter as well as trek there along a 2- or 4-day trail–but Machu Picchu retains its perhaps unequaled aura of mystery and magic. No longer overgrown with brush, as it was when it was discovered in 1911 by the Yale archaeologist and historian Hiram Bingham with the aid of a local farmer who knew of its existence, from below it is still totally hidden from view. The majestic setting the Incas chose for it remains unchanged: The ruins are nestled in towering Andes mountains and are frequently obscured by mist. When the early morning sun rises over the peaks and methodically illuminates the ruins row by row, Machu Picchu leaves visitors as awestruck as ever.”

Anyway, there seemed to be about another 20 groups of walkers. We were nearly last to finish our “al fresco” lunch which was nice and filling. It was time to get to know the people who wold be walking with for 4 days. I found them all great. We had our National park Tickets (50 US) stamped (they asked for my students card) and off we went on an easy 4 hour trek.

For decades, individuals trekked the Inca Trail on their own, but hundreds of thousands of visitors–as many as 75,000 a year–left behind so much detritus that not only was the experience compromised for most future trekkers, but the very environment was also placed at risk. All trekkers are now required to go accompanied by a guide and group.Only professionally qualified and licensed guides are allowed to lead groups on the Inca Trail. (The maximum size of each group is 16 tourists, and groups larger than 9 trekkers must hire an additional guide to accompany the group.) These changes have cut the number of trekkers on the trail in half (a maximum of 500 is allowed to begin the trail each day) and made reservations virtually essential in high season.

Alot of congestion on the trail as people were in competitive mood. I enjoyed the short walk. Our group stuck together. After crossing the R?o Urubamba (Vilcanota), the first gentle ascent of the trail looms to Inca ruins at Llaqtapata (also called Patallaqta, where Bingham and his team first camped on the way to Machu Picchu). The path then crosses the R?o Cusicacha, tracing the line of the river until it begins to climb, until it reaches the small village (the only one still inhabited along the trail) of Huayllabamba–a 2- to 3-hour climb. A pity, but we arrived at a campsite when it was dark and our guide had brought us to the wrong campsite. We had to trek down hill to another ne which as quite basic (no tolets). We bought a few beers (I also had a flaggon of rum) from a whole in the wall and had dinner. We went to bed when the gas light went out. The food and the company were good. With us were 2 guides called Michel and Mario. Michel had Ok to good English whle Mario had little. Also, there were 4 porters who brought and tansported our tents, food, cooking utilses etc) to each campsite. The two guides had there own tent but the porters shared. They carry a max of 25 kilos per day. I shared a tent with Faith. Total distance: 10-11km (6-7 miles).











Day One of the Inca Trail

Taken on the 15th of August 2004

Cuzco – Peru – Day One of the Inca Trail – The bridge at the very start of the trail just after check in

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Day One of the Inca Trail

Taken on the 15th of August 2004

Cuzco – Peru – Day One of the Inca Trail – Donkeys are handy here

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Day One of the Inca Trail

Taken on the 15th of August 2004

Cuzco – Peru – Day One of the Inca Trail – Inca ruins at Llaqtapata – also called Patallaqta

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Monday the 12th of May 2003 – Day 83 to Friday the 16th of May 2003 – Day 87

Monday the 12th of May 2003 – Day 83 to Friday the 16th of May 2003 – Day 87


Well, Im off on the Inca Tail tomorrow morning with South America Travel. The cost was 135 US (with fake students card). Prices range from 100 US to 280 US. I could have got it cheaper if I came back in a day later but….. Anyway the coca leafs and whiskey have been bought.

Just to finish things off for now. I like Cuzco. I enjoyed the walking and to a smaller extent discovering who the Inca were and what they did. It is very easy to stay in the gringo centre, but the city is like Prague. You can choose to drink and party your stay here away (which I did in Prague over two weeks, but have since redemmeded myself with that city), or get to know it.

I have yet to get to know Cuszo. I have only scratched the surface. Its a cliche, but everyday you discover something new. The city is full of back alleys, cobbled streets and lane ways, where people live. I have seen local shebeens (pubs), lads drinking wheat beet – and I have yet to interact fully here. I plan to stay for a few days while I come back and return again for:

Inti Raymi (Cusco): The Festival of the Sun, one of the greatest pageants in South America, celebrates the winter solstice and honors the Inca sun god with a bounty of colorful Andean parades, music, and dance. It takes over Cusco and transforms the Sacsayhuam?n ruins overlooking the city into a majestic stage.”

And more:

Corpus Christ – Cusco – 29th of June and maybe:

Virgen del Carmen (Paucartambo) on the 14th – 16th of July: The tiny, remote Andean colonial village of Paucartambo is about 4 hours from Cusco, but it hosts one of Peru’s wildest festivals. Its 3 days of dance, revelry, drinking, and outlandish, scary costumes pack in thousands who camp all over town (there’s almost nowhere to stay) and then wind up at the cemetery.











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – Girls on Film (2) Price was 1 S each for modeling.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – Riot Police. There have been protests that have closed roads and tourist attractions in the city for the past three days. Mainly protesting for better access to education. These have drawn tens of thousands of people to the cities streets. They are lively, loud affairs with chanting, banners, looundspeakers and fun. Not for transport though. They block streets for the whole day. I see water cannon on the streets today.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – Three crosses overlooking the city close to the Christ statue. One hours walk from the city centre.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – Parrot Boy – Just 1 sole for the pose. Real snotty nose.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – I know its just a donkey .. but he was all alone and didnt ask for a tip ……

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru -Just a 50 C tip (half of one sole). She didnt ask

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – Met them herding cows and sheep on a back road outside Cuszo. Had a guy on horseback as well.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken between the 12-05-2003 to the 16-05-2003

Cuzco – Peru – A Tourist watching tourists. Camera out.. a tip due .. modern tourism in action. These kids are everywhere. At all the sites. Cute, but If I saw a tourist in Cork, Ireland, giving money to a guy dressed in old garb carrying turf on a donkey, I would really laugh, saying “bloddy tourists”. I guess its the same here. Well, must try harder.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Friday the 16th of May 2003 – Day 86

Friday the 16th of May 2003 – Day 86
Was up at 8.30am to catch the same bus as yesterday to Pisac (2 s). The station is five minutes from my hostel. Instead of going all the way, got off after 10km. This was to visit 4 separate ruins (all covered by the tourist ticket).

(1) Tambomachay–On the road to Pisac (and a short, signposted walk off the main road), this site is also known as Los Banos del Inca (Inca Baths). Located near a spring just a short walk beyond Puca Pucara, the ruins consist of three tiers of stone platforms. Water still flows across a sophisticated system of aqueducts and canals in the small complex of terraces and a pool, but these were not baths as we know them–though ritualistic bathing may have taken place here–but most likely a place of water ceremonies and worship. The exquisite stonework indicates that the ba?os were used by high priests and nobility only. Spent 35 minutes here.











Cuzco – Peru – Tambomachay

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

This site is also known as Los Banos del Inca (Inca Baths).

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Tambomachay

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

This site is also known as Los Banos del Inca (Inca Baths).

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

(2) Walked about 10 minutes on the main road to Puca Pucara–A small fortress (the name means “red fort”) just off the main Cusco-Pisac road, this may have been some sort of storage facility or lodge, or perhaps a guard post on the road from Cusco to the villages of the Sacred Valley. It is probably the least impressive of the sites, though it has nice views of the surrounding countryside.











Cuzco – Peru – Puca Pucara

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

This may have been some sort of storage facility or lodge.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

(3) Took about 40 mintues )on a back road) to reach Sacsayhuaman–The greatest and nearest to Cusco of the ruins, Sacsayhuam?n, a steep 30-minute (or longer) walk from the center, reveals some of the Incas’ most extraordinary architecture and monumental stonework. Usually referred to as a garrison or fortress–because it was constructed with forbidding, castle-like walls–it was probably a religious temple, though most experts also believe it had military significance. The Inca emperor Pachac?tec began the site’s construction in the mid-15th century, though it took nearly 100 years and many thousands of men to complete it. Massive blocks of limestone and other types of stone were brought from as far as 32km (20 miles) away.

The ruins cover a huge area, but they constitute perhaps one-quarter of the original complex, which could easily house more than 10,000 men. Today, what survive are the astounding outer walls, constructed in a zigzag formation of three tiers. (In the puma-shaped layout of the Inca capital, Sacsayhuam?n was said to form the animal’s head, and the zigzag of the defense walls form the teeth.) Many of the base stones employed are almost unimaginably massive; some are 3.5m (12 ft.) tall, and one is said to weigh 300 tons. Like all Inca constructions, the stones fit together perfectly without aid of mortar. It’s easy to see how hard it would have been to attack these ramparts with 22 distinct zigzags; the design would automatically expose the flanks of an opponent.

Above the walls are the circular foundations of three towers that once stood here; they were used for storage of provisions and water. The complex suffered such extensive destruction that little is known about the actual purposes Saqsaywaman served. What is known is that it was the site of one of the bloodiest battles between the Spaniards and native Cusque?os. More than 2 years after the Spaniards had initially marched on Cusco and installed a puppet government, the anointed Inca (Manco Inca) led a seditious campaign that took back Saqsaywaman and nearly defeated the Spaniards in a siege of the Inca capital. Juan Pizarro and his vastly outnumbered but superior armed forces stormed Sacsayhuaman in a horrific battle in 1536 that left thousands dead. Legend speaks of their remains as carrion for giant condors in the open fields here. After the defeat of the Inca troops, and the definitive Spanish occupation of Cusco, the Spaniards made off with the more manageably sized stone blocks from Sacsayhuam?n to build houses and other structures in the city below.











Cuzco – Peru – Sacsayhuaman (aka Saqsaywaman)

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

Sacsayhuamán (aka Saqsaywaman) are walls near the old city of Cuzco. Some believe the walls were a form of fortification. While others believe it was only used to form the head of the Puma that Sacsayhuamán along with Cuzco form when seen from above. Like all Inca stonework there is still mystery surrounding how they were constructed.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Sacsayhuaman (aka Saqsaywaman)

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

Today, the annual Inca festival celebrating the winter solstice and new year, Inti Raymi, is held near Sacsyhuamán on June 24th.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Sacsayhuaman (aka Saqsaywaman)

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

In Inca mythology, Inti was the sun god and the god of rainbows, as well the patron deity of Tahuantinsuyu and father of the first Inca emperor, Manco Capac, and his brothers and sisters Mama Oello, Kon and Pachacamac by his wife, Mama Quilla. He was a son of Viracocha and Mama Cocha.

Inti was represented as a golden disc with a human face. He was also known as Apu Punchau, which means “head of the day”. The ruling Inca was considered to be the living representation of Inti. The festival of Inti-Raimi, still celebrated in contemporary Peru, honors this sun god.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

(4) Walked about 10 minutes uphill to get to Q’enko–The road from Sacsayhuaman leads past fields, where, on weekends, Cusqueos play soccer and have cookouts, to the temple and amphitheater of Q’enko (kehn-koh), a distance of about a kilometer (half a mile). The ruins are due east of the giant white statue of Christ crowning the hill next to Sacsayhuaman; follow the main road, and you’ll see signs for Q’enko, which appears on the right. A great limestone outcrop was hollowed out by the Incas and, in the void, they constructed a cave-like altar. (Some have claimed the smooth stone table inside was used for animal sacrifices.) Visitors can duck down into the caves and tunnels beneath the rock. You can also climb on the rock and see the many channels cut into the rock, where it is thought that either chicha or, more salaciously, sacrificial blood coursed during ceremonies. Q’enko may very well have been a site of ritual ceremonies performed in fertility rites and solstice and equinox celebrations.











Cuzco – Peru – Q’enko

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Walked back to town via Almirante. Head towards the Plaza de Armas. On the way down I visited the Inka Museum. The entrance fee was 5 S.

Museo Inka – Housed in the impressive Admirals Palace, this museum contains artifacts designed to trace Peruvian history from pre-Inca civilizations and Inca culture, including the impact of the Conquest and colonial times on the native cultures. On view are ceramics, textiles, jewelry, mummies, architectural models, and an interesting collection–reputed to be the world’s largest–of Inca drinking vessels (qeros) carved out of wood, many meticulously painted. The museum is a good introduction to Inca culture, and there are explanations in English. The palace itself is one of Cusco’s finest colonial mansions, with a superbly ornate portal indicating the importance of its owner; the house was built on top of yet another Inca palace at the beginning of the 17th century. In the courtyard is a studio of women weaving traditional textiles.











Cuzco – Peru – Outside the Inca Museum

Taken on the 16th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I also visited the Museo Historico Regional which wasn not that exciting. Missable!
Museo Historico Regional – The colonial home of Garcilaso de la Vega, a prominent historian of the Incas and colonial Cusco, is the appropriate setting for this museum, which presents a survey of Peruvian history from pre-Inca civilizations to the Inca and colonial periods. If you don’t plan on visiting the bigger and better museums in Lima, this will serve as a good enough historical and archaeological overview of cultures such as the Chav?n, Chancay, Moche, and Nasca. In addition to ceramics, textiles, and mummies, there’s Cusco School art and colonial-era furniture. The museum isn’t well labeled, though, so for some visitors, the handsomely rebuilt colonial mansion built around a pretty courtyard may ultimately prove more interesting.

Thursday the 15th of May 2003 – Day 86

Thursday the 15th of May 2003 – Day 86
Had the mother of all hangovers. Never mix Pisco Sours ( 2 ounces Pisco, 1 ounce Lime Juice , 1/4 ounce Simple Syrup, 1/2 Egg White, 1 dash Angostura Bitters). The brandy called pisco – the pith of the Pisco Sour – is originally from Peru – a powerful, tart libation. Got up at 11.00am.

Had enquired how to get to Pisac the day before. It is a town 32km (20 miles) NE of Cusco. Got a taxi to the bus station (which only serves 1 route) and bought a ticket for 2 S (bargain).

Pisac is a pretty, Andean village picturesquely situated at the eastern end of the valley. Though Pisac seems to be known principally for its Sunday artisans’ market, a crowded and touristy but thoroughly enjoyable affair, it should be more widely recognized and visited for its splendid Inca ruins, which rival Machu Picchu. Perched high on a cliff is the largest fortress complex built by the Incas. The commanding distant views over a luxuriously long valley of green patchwork fields, from atop a mountain spur reached by a strenuous hike, are worthy of cliché: They are, quite literally, breathtaking.

The Pisac ruins are some of the finest, and largest, in the entire valley. Despite the excellent condition of many of the structures, little is conclusively known about the site’s actual purpose. It appears to have been part city, part ceremonial center, and part military complex. It may have been a royal estate of the Inca emperor (Pachac?tec). It was certainly a religious temple, and though reinforced with the ramparts of a massive citadel, the Incas never retreated here to defend their empire against the Spaniards (and Pisac was not, like Machu Picchu, unknown to Spanish forces).

The best but most time-consuming way to see the ruins is to climb the hillside, following an extraordinary path that is itself a slice of local life. This is what I did. Trudging along steep mountain paths is still the way most Quechua descendants from remote villages get around these parts; many people you see at the Pisac market will have walked a couple of hours or more through the mountains to get there. To get to the ruins on foot (about 5km/3 miles, or 90 min.), you’ll need to be pretty fit and/or willing to take it very slowly. Begin the ascent at the back of Pisac’s main square, to the left of the church. The path bends to the right through agricultural terraces. There appear to be several competing paths; all of them lead up the mountain to the ruins.

“From a semicircular terrace and fortified section at the top, called the Quorihuayrachina, the views south and west, of the gorge and valley below and agricultural terraces creeping up the mountain slopes, are stunning. Deeper into the nucleus, the delicately cut stones are some of the best found at any Inca site. The most important component of the complex, on a plateau on the upper section of the ruins, is the Templo del Sol (Temple of the Sun), one of the Incas’ most impressive examples of masonry. The temple was an astronomical observatory. The Intihuatana, the so-called “hitching post of the sun,” resembles a sundial but in fact was an instrument that helped the Incas to determine the arrival of important growing seasons rather than to tell the time of day. Sadly, this section is now closed to the public, due to vandals who destroyed part of it a few years ago. Nearby (just paces to the west) is another temple, thought to be the Templo de la Luna (Temple of the Moon), and beyond that is a ritual bathing complex, fed by water canals. Continuing north from this section, you can either ascend a staircase path uphill, which forks, or pass along the eastern (right-hand) edge of the cliff. If you do the latter, you’ll arrive at a tunnel, which leads to a summit lookout at 3,400m (11,200 ft.). A series of paths leads from here to defensive ramparts (K’alla Q’asa), a ruins sector called Qanchisracay, and the area where taxis wait to take passengers back to Pisac.”











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Pisac Trek

Taken on the 15th of May 2003

I was invited to a town festival when I approached the town after the walk. the whole town was involved (and all the cattle too) in order to make a blessing for the wheat harvest. Town Festival

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

In the hillside across the Quitamayo gorge, at the backside (north end) of the ruins, are hundreds of dugout holes where huaqueros (grave robbers) have ransacked a cemetery that was among the largest known Inca burial sites.

The ruins are open daily from 7am to 5:30pm; admission is by Cusco’s boleto turistico. Note that to explore the ruins thoroughly by foot, including the climb from Pisac, you’ll need at least 4 hours. I also walked back to the town. Good Training for the Inca Trail. This was the best day I had for ages. Started bad but with the great scenery, the ruins, the westher, it was brilliant. I was alone 90% of the time on the trails. Mnay of them were tiny with sheer drops. It was great to be alone with no tourists or gringoes. When I got to a certain point, I remember thinking “this is why I came to South America”. Everything was OK with the world. I was happy as anyone walking down to catch a bus (around 5.00pm). When i got to the village, a festival was going on. I was the only gringo about, and out came the camera. The locals were nodding me on to follow the procession of working bulls to the church. The bulls and the men driving them were well decorated. Anyway at the church was a garden with wheat. The festival continued and all were offered natural wheat beer. i was offered and duely accepted. Quite nice but not hygenic.

Got the 6.00pm bus back and arrived at 6.40pm. Cost was 2 S. Bus was packed and drivers have a habit of leaving their lights out. Anyway took a 2 S taxi to the crowd I am doing the Inca Trail with to check what things I need and when i will be collected. Met Sarah, Peter and Alex for dinner. Had an early midnight sleep.

Wednesday the 14th of May 2003 – Day 85

Wednesday the 14th of May 2003 – Day 85

Got up early to do the museums and cathedrals of Cuszo. You can buy a Cuszo visitor ticket for 10 US (or 5 US if you have a students card and are under 25). It lasts 10 days. You cannot get into some churches and museums without it. The boleto allows admission to the following sights:

– La Catedral
– Museo de Arte Religioso
– Iglesia de San Blas
– Municipal Palace Museum (in the Palacio Municipal, Santa Teresa s/n tel. 084/223-511)
– Museo Arqueol?gico del Qoricancha
– Museo Hist?rico Regional
– Convento y Museo de Santa Catalina

The Inca ruins of Sacsayhuam?n, Q’enko, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay, Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, Pikillacta, and Tip?n.

I had to sure to carry the ticket with me when planning to make visits, as guards will demand to see it so that they can punch a hole alongside the corresponding picture.

First Place I visited is not part of the ticket and the cost is 6 S. It is called Qoricancha-Templo del Sol & Santo Domingo

“Qoricancha and Santo Domingo together form perhaps the most vivid illustration in Cusco of Andean culture’s collision with Western Europe. Like the Great Mosque in Cordoba, Spain–where Christians dared to build a massive church within the perfect Muslim shrine–the temple of one culture sits atop and encloses the other. The extraordinarily crafted Temple of the Sun was the most sumptuous temple in the Inca Empire and the apogee of the Incas’ naturalistic belief system. Some 4,000 of the highest-ranking priests and their attendants were housed here. Dedicated to worship of the sun, it was apparently a glittering palace straight out of El Dorado legend: Qoricancha means “golden courtyard” in Quechua, and in addition to hundreds of gold panels lining its walls, there were life-size gold figures, solid-gold altars, and a huge golden sun disc. The sun disc reflected the sun and bathed the temple in light. During the summer solstice, the sun still shines directly into a niche where only the Inca chieftain was permitted to sit. Other temples and shrines existed for the worship of lesser natural gods: the moon, Venus, thunder, lightning, and rainbows. Qoricancha was the main astronomical observatory for the Incas.

After the Spaniards ransacked the temple and emptied it of gold (which they melted down, of course), the exquisite polished stone walls were employed as the foundations of the Convent of Santo Domingo, constructed in the 17th century. The baroque church pales next to the fine stonemasonry of the Incas–and that’s to say nothing about the original glory of the Sun Temple. Today, all that remains is Inca stonework. Thankfully, a large section of the cloister has been removed, revealing four original chambers of the temple, all smoothly tapered examples of Inca trapezoidal architecture. Stand on the small platform in the first chamber and see the perfect symmetry of openings in the stone chambers. A series of Inca stones displayed reveals the fascinating concept of male and female blocks, and how they fit together. The 6m (20-ft.) curved wall beneath the west end of the church, visible from the street, remains undamaged by repeated earthquakes and is perhaps the greatest example of Inca stonework. The curvature and fit of the massive stones is astounding.

After the Spaniards had taken Cusco, Francisco Pizarro’s brother Juan was given the eviscerated Temple of the Sun. He died soon after, though, at the battle at Sacsayhuam?n, and he left the temple to the Dominicans, in whose hands it remains.”











Cuzco – Peru – Temple of the Sun

Taken on the 14th of May 2003

The extraordinarily crafted Temple of the Sun was the most sumptuous temple in the Inca Empire and the apogee of the Incas’ naturalistic belief system. Some 4,000 of the highest-ranking priests and their attendants were housed here. Dedicated to worship of the sun, it was apparently a glittering palace straight out of El Dorado legend: Qoricancha means “golden courtyard” in Quechua, and in addition to hundreds of gold panels lining its walls, there were life-size gold figures, solid-gold altars, and a huge golden sun disc. The sun disc reflected the sun and bathed the temple in light. During the summer solstice, the sun still shines directly into a niche where only the Inca chieftain was permitted to sit. Other temples and shrines existed for the worship of lesser natural gods: the moon, Venus, thunder, lightning, and rainbows. Qoricancha was the main astronomical observatory for the Incas.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru – Temple of the Sun

Taken on the 14th of May 2003

After the Spaniards ransacked the temple and emptied it of gold (which they melted down, of course), the exquisite polished stone walls were employed as the foundations of the Convent of Santo Domingo, constructed in the 17th century.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I then went to see the following:
(1) Iglesia de San Blas, said to be the oldest parish church in Cusco (admission is by boleto tur?stico). Though a simple adobe structure, it contains a marvelously carved, Churrigueresque cedar pulpit. Some have gone as far as proclaiming it the finest example of woodcarving in the world; carved from a single tree trunk, it is certainly great. Spent about 20 minutes there. Ok, not unmissable but nice walk up there and very nice neighborhood. On the way back down to the city centre I went to:

(2) Museo de Arte Religioso (Palacio Arzobispal) – One of Cuszo fameous streets, Hatunrumliyoc, a pedestrian alleyway lined with magnificent Inca stonemasonry, the Museum of Religious Art is housed in a handsome colonial palace that previously belonged to the Archbishop of Cusco (and before that, it was the site of the palace of Inca Roca and then the home of a Spanish marquis). Inside is a nice collection of colonial religious paintings, notable for the historical detail they convey. Spent 1 hour here.

(3) Museo Arqueolgico del Qoricancha – In three small rooms, this underground museum, across the garden from the Temple of the Sun and Santo Domingo, presents a decent collection of ceramics, metalwork, and textile weavings of Inca and pre-Inca civilizations, as well as a host of other archaeological finds. The museum pales in comparison to Qoricancha and the Museo Inka, however. Allow about a half hour, tops.
(4) Convento y Museo de Santa Catalina – A small convent a couple of blocks west of the Plaza de Armas, Santa Catalina was built between 1601 and 1610 on top of the Acllawasi, where the Inca emperor sequestered his chosen Virgins of the Sun. The convent contains a museum of colonial and religious art. The collection includes an excellent collection of Escuela Cusque?a paintings, featuring some of the greatest works of Amerindian art–a combination of indigenous and typically Spanish styles–in Cusco. The collection includes four paintings of the Lord of the Earthquakes (El Se?or de los Temblores) painted by Amerindians. The interior of the monastery is quite beautiful, with painted arches and an interesting chapel with baroque frescoes of Inca vegetation. Other items of interest include very macabre statues of Jesus and an extraordinary trunk that, when opened, displays the life of Christ in 3-D figurines. (It was employed by the Catholic Church’s “traveling salesmen,” who were used to convert the natives in far-flung regions of Peru). The main altar of the convent church is tucked behind steel bars.











Cuzco – Peru – Convento y Museo de Santa Catalina

Taken on the 14th of May 2003

Santa Catalina was built between 1601 and 1610 on top of the Acllawasi, where the Inca emperor sequestered his chosen Virgins of the Sun. The convent contains a museum of colonial and religious art. The collection includes an excellent collection of Escuela Cusque?a paintings, featuring some of the greatest works of Amerindian art–a combination of indigenous and typically Spanish styles

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

(5) La Catedral – Built on the site of the palace of the Inca Viracocha, Cusco’s cathedral is a beautiful religious and artistic monument, but until 2005, it will be undergoing massive restoration, and much of it is under wraps. The central nave looks like a construction site, entirely supported by wooden beams. Completed in 1669 in the Renaissance style, the cathedral possesses some 400 canvasses of the distinguished Escuela Cusque?a that were painted from the 16th to 18th centuries. There are also amazing woodcarvings, including the spectacular cedar choir stalls. The main altar–which weighs more than 401 kilograms (882 lb.) and is fashioned from silver mined in Potosi, Bolivia–features the patron saint of Cusco. To the right of the altar is a particularly Peruvian painting of the Last Supper, with the apostles drinking chicha (fermented maize beer) and eating cuy. The Capilla del Triunfo (the first Christian church in Cusco) is next door, to the right of the main church. It holds a painting by Alonso Cortés de Monroy of the devastating earthquake of 1650 and an altar adorned by the locally famous “El Negrito” (aka “El Se?or de los Temblores,” or Lord of the Earthquakes), a brown-skinned figure of Christ on the cross that was paraded around the city by frightened residents during the 1650 earthquake (which, miracle or not, ceased shortly thereafter). No photos allowed.











Cuzco – Peru – Catherdral

Taken on the 14th of May 2003

Built on the site of the palace of the Inca Viracocha, Cusco’s cathedral is a beautiful religious and artistic monument. Nice shot of the moon as well.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Finished my museum and church visiting at 5.30pm. Met Sarah on the street and we went to dinner in a post back packers gaff with nice music and good food. Had Asian chicken for 15 Soles. Promised to met her and Peter at 11.00 in Mama Africas. After that checked out a few agencies who offer the Inca Trail (4 days / 3 nights). Prices differ from 140 US to 280 US.

Met the two lads (Peter and Sarah), and didnt really enjoy Mama Africas. Cuszo is a party town with party pubs. Place was like Tralee during Eose week. Lots of young gringoes getting drunk, drinking Pisco Sours, dancing to chezzy pop. There are about a dozen places like this within metres of the city centre. Watch it folks. Two people fainted beside me. Drinking at altitude is hard. I had to take one lad out after he fainted. No waking him and was a very stuffy atmosphere. He recovered outside. I think people thought I was a bouncer. People were separating in front of me after that. Had a drink in the Irish Pub next door called O Flatertys. Owned by a Carlow man, whom I had a chat with. Went to spoon disco after. Stayed 20 minutes and went home at 2.30pm.

Tuesday the 13th of May 2003 – Day 84

Tuesday the 13th of May 2003 – Day 84

Two nights with no sleep. No contest. I slept until 13.00 hours. After waking, I wandered around the town for a few hours. I met Peter, Sarah and Alex. They were going to see a free movie in a Pub (Mama Africas), so i joined them. Had a beer and watched Chicago – Didnt really enjoy it. For fans only. After that had another beer and went home wandering the streets.

Spectacularly cradled by the bold southeastern Andes mountains that were so fundamental to the Inca belief system, Cusco sits at a daunting altitude of 3,400m (11,000 ft.). The air is noticeably thinner here than in almost any city in South America, and the city, best explored on foot, demands arduous hiking up precipitous stone steps, leaving even the fittest of travelers gasping for breath.

Stately and historic, with stone streets and building foundations laid by the Incas more than 5 centuries ago, the town is also remarkably dynamic, enlivened by throngs of travelers who have transformed the historic center around the Plaza de Armas into a mecca of sorts for South American adventurers.

Cusco looks and feels like the very definition of an Andean capital. It’s a fascinating blend of pre-Columbian and colonial history and contemporary mestizo culture. The Incas made Q’osqo (meaning “navel of the world” in Quechua) the political, military, and cultural center of their empire, which stretched up and down the Andes, from Ecuador through Bolivia and all the way to Chile. Cusco was the empire’s holy city, and it was also ground zero of the legendary Inca network of roads connecting all points in the empire.

The heart of the historic center has suffered relatively few modern intrusions, and despite the staggering number of souvenir shops, travel agencies, hotels, and restaurants overflowing with visitors, it doesn’t take an impossibly fertile imagination to conjure the magnificent capital of the 16th century.

The stately Plaza de Armas, lined by arcades and carved wooden balconies and framed by the Andes, is the focal point of Cusco. After Machu Picchu, it is one of the most familiar sights in Peru. The plaza–which was twice its present size in Inca days–has two of Cusco’s foremost churches and the remains of original Inca walls on the northwest side of the square, thought to be the foundation of the Inca Pachacútec’s palace. Lots of touts (kids selling cigis, postcards, crap) will annoy you. Never 2 minutes you get approached. Also many guys trying to get you into a restaurant or pub.











Cuzco – Peru

Taken on the 13th of May 2003

La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Cuzco – The king is dead.. long live …. the statue on the main Avenue Sol. Cuzco or Cusco (Quechua Qosqo, population 300,000), is a city in southeastern Peru in the Huatanay Valley of the Andes mountain range. It is the capital of the department of Cusco.

Cuzco is a high altitude city (~3400 meters/11,024 feet above sea level) of moderate size. Its name means “navel”, in the Quechua language. It was the capital and cultural center of Tahuantinsuyu, or Inca Empire. One legend states that in the 11th or 12th century Manco Capac founded Cusco. The granite walls of the Inca Palace are still standing, as are those of monuments like the Korikancha, or Sun Temple. Other great sites are the citadel of Machu Picchu and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken on the 13th of May 2003

Peru – Cuzco – Girls on Film. Posed for 2 S. They annoyed the crap out of me until I took a photo. Cute kids though. After the fall of the Empire in the 16th century (1532) to the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Spanish colonists invaded the city. Many buildings after that are of Spanish influence with a mix of Indian architecture, including the Santa Clara, and San Blas. Often, Spanish buildings are juxtaposed atop the massive stone walls built by the Inca.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken on the 13th of May 2003

Peru – Cuzco – Plaza Fountain

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken on the 13th of May 2003

Peru – Cuzco – same Plaza Fountain but at dusk with Orange Sky and a bird about to fly off.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











Cuzco – Peru

Taken on the 13th of May 2003

Peru – Cuzco – Overview of town. You an se the main square to the ledt of the picture.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Monday the 12th of May 2003 – Day 83

Monday the 12th of May 2003 – Day 83

As mentioned in the ealier post, I was far from been sober (but in great form) when I arrived at the bus staion at 7.45am. I met two Peace Corp Wokers there called Alex and Sarah. It is an ORG that help promotes a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served. Hmm, Ok, bu there are nice people. Idelaists. Sarah had her bag with 500 US stolen from the strps of the bus ternmuinal the day before, so watch it. ( I found out later that this is the thirs time – one a bag slasher on a bus andother the old vimit scam). Anyway the bus to cusco direct (130 B) was cancelled because of trouble in one of the towns we had to pass. Damn, it was wait another day or get the cheaper 90 B bus, and I knew what that meant – Israelis.

I got a refund and bought the 90 B ticket which meant stopovers in Copacabana, Puno and god knows where else. As expected there were the three of us and 20 Israelis who were as loud as possible. Very little sleep got on the first stint to Copacabana. Passed Lake Titicaca mist of the first three hours. At 3820m (12,530ft), is the highest navigable lake in the world. At over 170km (105mi) long, it is also the largest lake in South America. Its altitude means the air is unusually clear and the azure waters particularly striking. Lake Titicaca has long been considered a sacred place among indigenous Andean peoples. The people who live in and around the lake consider themselves descendants of Mama Qota, or Sacred Mother, and they believe that powerful spirits live in the lake’s depths. According to Andean legend, Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of civilization. Viracocha, the creator deity, lightened a dark world by having the sun, moon, and stars rise from the lake to occupy their places in the sky.

The ride to Copacababa takes 3 hours, including a 3-minute ferry ride (1.50Bs) across the Straits of Tiquina. Here, you must disembark from the bus and take a ferry across to the other side. The bus is carried over on a separate boat. Anyway we arrived at Copacabana at 12.00 and were allowed an hour there. Copacabana was an important religious site way before the Spanish realized that the world was round. Lake Titicaca is believed to be the birthplace of the Incas, and for many years, this city was one of the holiest of the Inca Empire. These days, pilgrims come from far and wide to visit the Cathedral of Copacabana to pay homage to the Virgin of Copacabana (also known as the Queen of Bolivia and the Virgin of Candelaria), who has supposedly bestowed many miracles upon her true believers. She is the most venerated virgin in all of Bolivia.

Had time so grabbed a bite to eat. Feeling bad, but met two kiwis I met in potosi and an english couple Ive met about 3 times. No time for small talk.. changed buses and off we went. Met a guy called Peter ( a Canadian on board) and five Irish girls on a trip. They were from Dublin. As I wasn’t feeling like talking … I didn’t enquire much. Passed immigration with a small problem. No tourist Ive met had been given a green entry form. there was a charge of 5 US or 35B. An Irish girl was in front of me with 10 US. They would not give change. She paid for me as well, and wouldnt hear of me paying her back. Ah well.











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Lake Titicaca

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

Lake Titicaca (Spanish: Lago Titicaca) is South America’s largest lake and, at 3821 m above sea level, the highest commercially navigable lake in the world.

Titicaca has a surface area of approximately 8300 square kilometres. Located in the Altiplano high in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia, it has an average depth of between 140 and 180 m, and a maximum depth of 280 m.

More than 25 rivers empty into Titicaca, and the lake has 41 islands – some of which are densely populated.

Titicaca is notable for a population of people who live on the Uros, nine artificial islands made of floating reeds. These islands have become a major tourist attraction for Peru, drawing excursions from the lakeside city of Puno. Another island, Taquile, is another tourist attraction featuring a different indigenous community. The Taquile locals are known for their handwoven textile products, which are some of the highest quality handicrafts in Peru.

Map of Lake TiticacaTiticaca is fed by rainfall and meltwater from glaciers on the sierras that abut the Altiplano. It is drained by the Desaguadero River, which flows south through Bolivia to Lake Poopó; however, this effluent accounts for less than five per cent of the water loss, the rest being accounted for by evaporation as a result of the strong winds and intense sunlight at this altitude.

The origin of the name Titicaca is unknown; it has been translated as “Rock of the Puma”, combining words from the local languages Quechua and Aymara, and as “Crag of Lead”. Locally, the lake goes by several names.

Because the southeast quarter of the lake is separated from the main body by the Strait of Tiquina, the Bolivians call this smaller part Lago Huinaymarca and the larger part Lago Chucuito. In Peru, these smaller and larger parts are referred to as Lago Pequeño and Lago Grande, respectively.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Lake Titicaca

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

Our bus on the move. The boat took our bus throught the Strait of Tiquina. This is the passage that connects the larger and smaller parts of Lake Titicaca in Bolivia. It was a simple a 3-minute ferry ride (1.50Bs) across the Straits. Here, you must disembark from the bus and take a ferry across to the other side. The bus is carried over on a separate boat.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Copacabana Church

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

The Cathedral of Copacabana–In 1580, the Virgin of Copacabana appeared in a dream to Tito Yupanqui. He was so taken by this vision that he set out to Potos? (then one of the most important art centers in the world) to learn to sculpt. With his new skill, he hand-carved the Virgin from the wood of a maguey cactus. He then carried her by foot from Potosi to Copacabana (a journey of more than 400 miles), where she was placed in an adobe chapel in 1583. Immediately afterwards, the crops of those who doubted her power were mysteriously destroyed. The Spanish, smitten with the Virgin, completed this Moorish-style cathedral for her in 1617. The Virgin stands in a majestic mechanical altar. On weekends, the priests rotate the Virgin so that she faces the main chapel; on weekdays, when there are fewer pilgrims here, they spin her around so that she looks over a smaller chapel on the other side. The silver ship at the bottom of the altar represents the moon, while the gold statue above the Virgin’s head is believed to symbolize the power of the sun. Believers have bestowed millions of dollars worth of gifts upon the Virgin. In 1879, the government of Bolivia sold some of her jewelry to finance the War of the Pacific against Chile. The cathedral is open daily from 11am to noon and from 2 to 6pm; admission is free.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Lake Shore

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Got to Puno around 5.00pm. Our bus to cuszo was at 8.00pm. Three tours to kill. Lots of touts offering trips to “Floating islands”. Took a trip which cost 15 Soles with an English speaking guide. This included transport to the docks, visit to two islands and transport back.

From frommers.

“As improbable as it sounds, the Uros Indians of Lake Titicaca live on floating “islands” made by hand from totora reeds that grow in abundance in the shallow waters of the lake. This unique practice has endured since the time of the Incas, and today, there are some 45 floating islands in the Bay of Puno. The islands first came into contact with the modern world in the mid-1960s, and their inhabitants now live mostly off tourism.

Many visitors faced with this strange sight conclude that the Uros can’t possibly still live on the islands, that it must be a show created for their benefit. True, they can seem to be little more than floating souvenir stands; the communities idly await the arrival of tourist boats and then seek to sell handmade textiles and reed-crafted items while the gringos walk gingerly about the springy islands–truly an odd sensation–photographing houses and children. Yet the islands and their people are not just a show. A couple hundred Uros Indians continue to live year-round on the islands, even if they venture to Puno for commercial transactions. The largest island, Huacavacani, has not only homes but also a floating Seventh-Day Adventist church, a candidate for one of the more bizarre scenes you’re likely to find in Peru. Others have schools, a post office, and souvenir shops. Only a few islands are actually set up to receive tourists. The vast majority of the Uros people live in continual isolation and peace, away from camera lenses.

The Uros, who fled to the middle of the lake to escape conflicts with the Collas and Incas, long ago began intermarrying with the Aymara Indians, and many have now converted to Catholicism. Fishers and birders, the Uros live grouped by family sectors, and entire families live in one-room tent-like thatched huts constructed on the shifting reed island that floats beneath. They build modest houses and gondolas with fanciful animal-head bows out of the reeds, and they continually replenish the fast-rotting mats that form their fragile islands. Visitors might be surprised, to say the least, to find some huts outfitted with televisions powered by solar panels (which were donated by the Fujimori administration after a presidential visit to the islands). “











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Floating Island

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

We got to Puno and decideded to get to the Floating Islands. Population 80,000, located on Lake Titicaca, the worlds highest navigable lake, at 12,421 feet. Puno is surrounded by 41 floating islands, and to this day Uros still depend on the lake for their survival. As improbable as it sounds, the Uros Indians of Lake Titicaca live on floating “islands” made by hand from totora reeds that grow in abundance in the shallow waters of the lake. This unique practice has endured since the time of the Incas, and today, there are some 45 floating islands in the Bay of Puno. The islands first came into contact with the modern world in the mid-1960s, and their inhabitants now live mostly off tourism.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia to Cuzco – Peru – Floating Island

Taken on the 12th of May 2003

To be honest, this strange sight they can seem to be little more than floating souvenir stands

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

I had a nice time, except for one annoying Israeli who had been on the same trip as me since the start. loud, obnoxious. He was impossible to speak.. even thought he spoke loudly to himself all the time.

After we got back from the trip (6.30pm), Sarah, Alex and Peter, and I decided to catch a taxi into town (2 S) to get a bite to eat. Went to a nice restaurant on he pedestrian mall. Had ravioli with chicken sauce (17 S) which was nice. Got a taxi back. Seemed like a nice town, but cant judge because of lack of time. Decided to take up the bus company offer of 2 nights accommodation in Cuzco for 5 us. This was because we would be arriving at 3.00am at night. This was a good deal.

The bus was ready, a very comfortable semi cama where you could stretch out. I got the front upstairs seat and wasn’t sleepy even thought I hadn’t slept the night before. It was a cold bumpy ride and I didn’t get much sleep. We arrived at 5.00m (later than expected) and as part of the accommodation deal got free transport to the hostel. OK private room, with shared bath about 8 minutes walk from the town centre.

Saturday the 10th of May 2003 – Day 81 to Sunday the 11th of May 2003 – Day 82

Saturday the 10th of May 2003 – Day 81

Arrived back at the hostel at 7.30am. Slept until 13.00pm. Nothing done today except I took a micro (1.50 B) to the bus station and enquired about getting away. Booked a bus (15 hour journey) to Cuszo (peru) for Monday with LITORAL. Brekfast and dinner included. Cost 130 B. Direct line. Departs 8.00ama nd arrives at 17.00 hours. Went back to the hostel after lunch and slept for a few hours. Met Trish and Andrew (a Kwiwi) at 9.00pm for a few drinks. Had preapared to travel to Sorato for a day trip (4 hours each way) but after staying talking until 2.30am, decided to pospone until I returned to La Paz.

Sunday the 11th of May 2003 – Day 82

Haveing decided not to travel to Sorato today, I could afford to sleep in. Probably the first time since I began my trip. Stayed in bed until 13.00pm and enjoyed doing nothing for once. Walked around and enjoyed the nice weater. Bands were playing in different parks and everyone was taking it easy. The following are some unpuvblished photos I took during my 9 night stay in la Paz. The cost of my accommodation (Torino Hotel) was 225 B (26 EURO for nine nights !!!!!). NOTE: there is a post note to La Paz at the end of this post.











La Paz -Bolivia

Taken between the 03-05-2003 to the 11-05-2003

La Paz – Bolivia – unpublished photos – Murilli Square

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz -Bolivia

Taken between the 03-05-2003 to the 11-05-2003

La Paz – Bolivia – unpublished photos – Cemetry

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz -Bolivia

Taken between the 03-05-2003 to the 11-05-2003

La Paz – Bolivia – unpublished photos – Monument beside San Francisco Square which is the main meeting point in the city.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz -Bolivia

Taken between the 03-05-2003 to the 11-05-2003

La Paz – Bolivia – unpublished photos – La Paz Seen from El Alto A bit smoggy but fab!

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz -Bolivia

Taken between the 03-05-2003 to the 11-05-2003

La Paz – Bolivia – unpublished photos – La Paz Seen from El Alto A bit smoggy but fab!

Click on the picture to see it in its original size

Well, I thought that my next post would be from Peru, but with haste there is a post note. Trish´s sisters and friends were back from their jungle trip. Great value at $25 per day (swimming with pink dolpins anyone). Anyway I met up with Gwyn and Trish. Rob went to bed early after his Gravity Assisted Mountain biking trip. Met at the Salar Pub near the black market. A french guy called Damien workes behind the bar, and knows us quite well by now. Andew, the LA based Kwiwi was also there. Stayed there until about 2.00am (I forget) and went to La Luna. BTW, must read a book reccommended by Gwyn called Damage Done by Warren Fellows. It is reprinted as 4000 Days: My Life & Survival in a Bangkok Prison. Anyway, we stayed there until about 5.30am. Nice group there, amongst them a girl called Shirley O Brien from Shanagolden, in West Limerick. We retired to another pub on the round-a-about at the Plaza del estudiate. Had a few drinks and went home to get my bags, as my bus from leaving at 8.00am. As can be imagained, I wasnt in a great state, and quickly grabbed my bags and got a micro to the bus station (1.50 B). To be continued.

As another postnote, it was great meeting Rob (whom I may meet up again in this great continent) and Gwyn and Trish. La Paz was great and I will be back in a month or two . Hope to meet up with Gwyn and Trish in Ireland. Email me some time.

Friday the 9th of May 2003 – Day 80

Friday the 9th of May 2003 – Day 80

Got up at 8.30am. Promised I would wake trish to see Tiwanaku if she wanted to go. Got off tour buses etc. You can get there for 10 US through many agencies. Micro is just 1 US. Take your pick. Had breakfast and took off with Trish for the cemetery. Tiwanaku is located 1 1/2 hours outside of La Paz. Took a !b micro there. Trans Tours Tiwanaku, Calle José Aliaga, operates buses that stop at Tiwanaku. The buses leave from the Cementerio District every half hour from 8am to 4:30pm. The ride costs 7B. The ride left 2 minutes after we got there and took us throught El Alto, which has great views of La Paz. Apart from thw 2 of us, the bus was full of locals.

From Frommers.

A visit to Tiwanaku will take you back in time to an impressive city built by an extremely technologically advanced pre-Inca society. The Tiwanaku culture is believed to have lasted for 28 centuries from 1600 B.C. to A.D. 1200. In this time, they created some of the most impressive stone monoliths in the world, developed a sophisticated irrigation system, and gained an advanced understanding of astronomy and the workings of the sun. Their territory spread from northern Argentina and Chile through Bolivia to the south of Peru. These people never came into contact with the Incas. By the time the Incas made it to Peru, a 100-year drought had ravaged the Titicaca area. The Tiwanaku people had long ago left the region in small groups and moved to different areas in the altiplano or valleys.

The cost was 25 B buut you can sneek in it you want by walking around the fence. You can also buy an English Guide to the site for 20B if you miss a tour operator expereince.

When you visit Tiwanaku, you will first stop in at the museum, where you can observe firsthand the magnificence of the ceramics, monoliths, and figurines found at the site. The museum is only 8 months old. The exhibits will help you understand a bit of the history of this culture. There is a second museum which is more conventional with exhibites outlining times and movement of teh people.

Armed with your new knowledge, you can then head out to the site itself, where you’ll often have to use your imagination. The Incas and the Spaniards destroyed the site while searching for gold and silver. Highlights of the site include the * Semi-Underground Temple, which is decorated with stones carved in the shape of different heads from around the world; the * Kalassaya, the main temple area of the site and believed to be dedicated to the sun; and the Akapana (pyramid), believed to be an observatory and a temple to worship the sky.

I enjoyed the site (I have not been to Peru yet), and was impressed by the people who built the city. We stayed until 3.00pm and walked into town to catch a micro back. All the kids were very curious as to where we were from and why we were here. Nice church there. Took a micro back anf arrived backa t 4.30pm. Walked back to hostel with Trish after getting lunch (6 B) and buying a Boca Juniors (fake) jersey for 30 B.

Rob, I and Trish went out at 9.30am. Grabbed a bite to eat and then to “la Luna Pub”. OK, place close to the hostel. Mostly gringoes with OK atmosphere. We then went to another pub close to the blck market. Stayefd there until 1.00am and went onto “Bizarre Disco”. It was 25 B in with one free drink. Good club that went onto 5.00am. At that stage we had met a few others and went onto another pub for 1 drink. Got back at 7.30am.











Paz – Bolivia – Tiwanaku

Taken on the 9th of May 2003

Tiwanaku (old spelling: Tiahuanaco) is an important Pre-Columbian archeological site in Bolivia. The ruins of the ancient city are on the eastern shore of Lake Titicaca, about 72 km (44 miles) west of La Paz, Bolivia. Some have hypothesized that its modern name is a corruption of the Aymara term “taypikala”, meaning “stone in the center”. However, the name used by the people of Tiwanaku to refer to it is unknown. The inhabitants of Tiwanaku had no written language.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia – Tiwanaku

Taken on the 9th of May 2003

The site of Tiwanaku was founded about 200 BC, as a small village, and it grew to urban proportions between 300 AD and 500 AD, becoming an important regional power in the southern Andes. At its maximum extent, the city covered approximately 6 square kilometers, and had as many as 40,000 inhabitants. Its unique pottery style is found in vast areas covering modern Bolivia, Peru and northen Chile and Argentina. It is difficult to tell, however, whether these areas where part of an empire in the political sense or simply under cultural and commercial influence. Tiwanau collapsed around 1100 AD. The city was abandoned, and its characteristic art style vanished.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia – Tiwanaku

Taken on the 9th of May 2003

The Tiwanaku art style is distinctive, and, together with the related Huari style, defines the Middle Horizon of Andean prehistory. Both of these styles seem to have derived from that of the earlier Pukara culture, centered at the site of Pukara in the northern Titicaca Basin.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia – Tiwanaku

Taken on the 9th of May 2003

Much of the architecture of the site is in a poor state of preservation, having been subjected to looting and amateur excavations attempting to locate valuables since shortly after Tiwanaku’s fall. This destruction continued during 19th century and the early 20th century, and has included quarrying stone for railroad construction and target practice by military personnel. Today Tiwanaku is a UNESCO world heritage site, and is administered by the Bolivian government.

Click on the picture to see it in its original size











La Paz – Bolivia – Tiwanaku

Taken on the 9th of May 2003

  • UNESCO description

  • Tiahuanaco on emuseum.mnsu.edu

  • Tiahuanaco, City

    and Empire

  • Tiwanaku, Environmental Factors in the Rise and Fall of an Agrarian State.

    Click on the picture to see it in its original size

  • Wednesday the 7th of May 2003 – Day 78 to Thursday the 8th of May 2003 – Day 79


    Wednesday the 7th of May 2003 – Day 78

    Got up at 8.30am and had a shower. Went down town and had a market breakfast. Walking to the Catholic Plaze to check out the city tour bus (details from all tourists offices). Cost is 6 US. They were leaving at 10.30am not on a city tour but the moon valley (Valle de la Luna). I was also going there but decided it would be far cheaper by micro (.35 US vs 6 US). No contest. Went back up to Plaza Estudiante and waited to see a van with a Mallasa or Zoo destination. Micro 11 or mini bus 231 or 273. Cost was 2.70. Sat beside a Bolivian man (born Germany) who spoke German and had worked in the US. Hmmm. Nice guy in his 70s/80s and said to mind myself. Took about 25 minutes to get there. Interesting rock formations. It’s been rumored that this Star Wars-like landscape was called Valle de las Animas (Valley of the Spirits) until Neil Armstrong came here on his world tour after visiting the moon. He told the Bolivians that this valley reminded him of the moon, and voilà–we now have Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). The terrain is so dry that only cacti grow here. There’s not much to do here other than jump from rock to rock and wander on some narrow paths. You can make a donation if you want. You wont miss anything )(see my pictures) if you miss this. I was the only person there. Do not bother paying for a tour.

    I walked about 2 km through Mallasa town to get t to the Zoo. Entrance was only 3B. Sparse, empty but some great animals. Get there for 10am to see the feeding time. There are Pumas, Jaguars, bears, condors, monkeys, rabbits. I spent about 2 hours here. Animals you may never see any place in America or Europe.

    I then walked back to moon valley and onto “El Cactario”- basically a cactus farm. OK, Ok, not at all interesting but interesting to see all the women hard at work there trying to catch small lizards. Waved a bus down on the road (2.50 ) and made my way back into town.

    Went to there market and bought a pair of “Wrangler” jeans for 60 B. nice. Had a little food and went to the net cafe to write up the blog. There were phones in the Cafe so I rang my cousin George in the prison. I asked whoever answered on th phone to get Georgie. he was watching a football match between two prison sides. Said he got permission for me to visit and said to bring some pens and arrive at 10.00am. Fine, I asked whether Rob could come. he said fine, no problems. OK.











    La Paz – Bolivia – Moon valley

    Taken on the 7th of May 2004

    Paz – Bolivia – Moon Valley

    Click on the picture to see it in its original size











    La Paz – Bolivia – The Zoo

    Taken on the 7th of May 2004

    Paz – Bolivia – The Zoo

    Click on the picture to see it in its original size











    La Paz – Bolivia – The Zoo

    Taken on the 7th of May 2004

    La Paz – Bolivia – The Zoo – Some ladies working outside the Zoo

    Click on the picture to see it in its original size











    La Paz – Bolivia

    Taken on the 7th of May 2004

    La Paz – Bolivia – Cactus World News

    Click on the picture to see it in its original size

    Thursday the 8th of May 2003 – Day 79

    Got up at 9.00am and had breakfast with Rob. Walked to San Pedro prison but waited a while. Went to the door at 10.30am and told them we were here to visit George. A prisoner was dispatched and George arrived. He had the papers signed by the govenor. We had to wait 1 hour (for no particular reason) to get in. George was waitinga nd we were waiting. It seems 2 Germans were inside and had paid off the boss man at the entrance. We could not get in until they came out. At 11.30am they came out and we went in. George brought us up to his penthouse apartment. It had three rooms – a library, balcony (with kitchen), living quarters. It cost him in the region of 800 US. He had a great view of one of the four prison courtyards. After making coffee we spoke for a while about him and the prison. At around 12.15 we went down for lunch at the prison restaurant. The prison food is extremely bad, so most buy their lunch. Had a great rice and chicken dinner for 6 B. After lunch he showed us around the prison, the side streets (where you can get stabbed at night for 5 B from the crack addicts), to the football field. After that we went back up to his apartment. He was a strange and interesting guy. Born in Canada, he is without nationality, family or friends. He has a philosophy of life which starts with 2001: A Space Odyssey and ends with following the tree of knowledge (by finding the said films monoliths). He said he has found many pieces and wants to return to Canada to find another piece. He was a very intelligent guy and had some interesting things to say. Cost was 50 B to the guards erc and 50 B to George. We stayed there listening to this until 4.30pm, by which time we had enough. He asked us to visit again. We got back to the hostel at 17.00 and went to the market. Too late to do anything meaningful today.

    Trish, the girl we were drinking with earlier in the week reappeared. Her sisters and friends had left, but she had decided to stay for a few days. She had been at the prison also. She had used a South African guy called James (cost 140 B). Rob, Trish and I went for a few drinks. Met Urs from Switzerland who i met in Salta, Potosia nd Sucre (small world). Found an excellent RTW site HERE . Check it out.