South America - Day 11
By Max Seebohm
Categories: south america
Our overnight stay was short lived as it was an early breakfast this morning and then back to the airport to climb back onboard yet another flight to Cusco on our way to Machu Picchu. As per usual our tour guide was waiting for us as we went through the normal airport procedure at Cusco. Once we were loaded up we were on our way to check out the city and beyond. Our new tour guide was a real character and had all our group laughing pretty much straight away as we had a full commentary on everything as we drove along. We had a brief look at the city because in a few days we were coming back.
As we headed up into the mountains the scenery started to unfold in front of us and our guide started explaining to us about the very high altitude. Cusco is 3,400 metres above sea level and the air is much thinner here and the high altitude could possibly affect people’s breathing or they could become lightheaded and the things you could do to help if it was affecting you. We saw a few people on oxygen at our hotel as they couldn’t cope with the high altitude.
We made our way through the mountains stopping at a place that had all sorts of llamas, alpacas and many other animals of that variety and believe it or not there was a gift shop there which displayed all the ways that they use the wool and all the things they use it for. Then we went to a town a bit further on and stopped at a local market for 45 minutes, most people had a buy up, most things were good value and great quality. When everyone was on board we moved on to our lunch stop at a restaurant along the way, you might call it a late lunch as it was nearly 4.00pm, they don’t mind late lunches and late dinners over here. At lunch there was a huge variety of food to choose from and most tried a bit of everything.
Moving on through the Sacred Valley we saw all sorts of things. We saw people standing out on the road holding up on a stick with something on it, we found out they were cooked guinea pigs on a stick and they were classed as a delicacy over here. Passers by were buying them! Everyone turned their noses up to that but our guide’s answer to that was its no worse than eating rabbits and most of us are guilty of that! Apparently they keep them in the kitchen and feed them all the kitchen scraps to fatten them up - I don’t know about that!
When we arrived at Ollantaytambo to climb the steps to the Sun Temple it started raining and out of nowhere there were people selling ponchos by the hundreds, there were people everywhere selling their wares! Four of our group didn’t do the climb because of the rain but everyone else did it and got right to the top. It was a tough climb, but to get to the top and see how the Incas built the temples out of huge rocks and fitted them all together with such precision. It would make a tradesman of today wonder how this was possible. It was a good feeling to get to the top and the view from up there was amazing!
It wasn’t only the size of the stones but how they all came from a mountain from away so getting them there would have been a huge challenge as well to get them down one mountain, across the raging river and back up the other side, but we are talking, 500 plus years ago. After we had savoured the view and taken a zillion photos we started making our way down which nearly took as long.
Once back on our bus we were headed for our hotel for the night, once settled into our hotel it was time for dinner. The dining room was very upmarket and we had a beautiful meal a couple of drinks before heading off to bed after a very busy tiring day.