A journey to Cuzco and Machu Picchu
Cuzco, Cusco, Qusqu or Qosqo – what is correct, nobody knows apparently one can use all names. That’s probably because the Incas didn’t know any script.
We flew from Santiago de Chile via Lima, since 2018 there are even direct flights. But Lima is always worth a visit, especially culinary. Astrid y Gaston is still at the top of the gastronomic list.
The next day the spectacular flight to Cuzco (Cusco) or better said the spectacular landing in this narrow Andes valley. The alleys to our accommodation are even narrower, even with a small taxi the quarter San Blas is not so easy to reach. In the evening we meet with Jorge Luis of the local agency and discuss our stay. The first days we begin slowly to get used to the height of 3400 m. In the chocolate museum we make our own chocolate, the next day we can pick it up and try it. Surprisingly it was really tasty. As always we searched for good books about fauna and flora and found them right opposite of the Qoricancha in the Libreria Cusco Jerusalen. We visited the somewhat dusty Museo de Inka with a guided tour. The newer Museo Machu Picchu however has a modern exhibition about the discovery by Hiram Bingham to offer and surprised us quite positively.
Excursions and sightseeing of Cuzco
A classic sightseeing day was of course not to be missed either. With guide and bus we explored the city and its surroundings:
- We started with the cathedral, which was built on the foundations of an Inca temple.
- In the church of San Blás we admired the pulpit, the most beautiful wood carving of Cusco.
- The sun temple Coricancha is located in the Dominican church and captivates by the finest masonry.
- The famous stone with the 12 corners in the Calle Hatunrumiyoc is often passed anyway.
- The most important ruin near Cusco is Sacsayhuamán, three kilometres outside the city with a great view of the sea of houses from the Cristo Blanco. Sacsayhuamán is also within walking distance.
- The ruins of Tambomachay were dedicated to water.
- The large worked rock of Qénko probably impresses mummies in honour. Tambomachay and Qénko lie outside the city.
Already quite well adapted to the height we first sat down on the bike. At least we thought we were already well acclimatized. But the 400 height meters, passing Sacsayhuamán up to the pass Abra Qorao, taught us better. We were really happy to have arrived in Pisac. Pisac is a little more than 30 km away from Cusco, beautifully situated in the Sacred Valley of the Inca at Rio Urubamba. A long stone staircase leads up here to the ruins, in the middle of which is the stone to which the sun was tied, the Intihuatana. In the whole Valle Sagrado there are great hotels, it is worth staying for several days and visiting other places from here. Above all the salt mining site Maras with innumerable many salt basins which cover the whole slope in terraces. For those interested in culture there is of course the ruin of Ollantaytambo. Here, at the latest, one has to get on the train in order to reach Aguas Calientes. The place has developed a lot in the last years. Early in the morning the first buses start up to Machu Picchu.
Hikes and trekking to Machu Picchu
Alternatively, one can also reach the probably most beautifully situated Inca site of South America on foot. Traditionally with long reservation the Inca Trek leads in 5 days to Machu Picchu. The crowning finale is the sunrise from the sun gate, of course with a view of the ruins. The Inca Trek should not be underestimated, just because it is very well known from a touristic point of view, it is no less exhausting.
Less famous and no less beautiful is the Salcantay Trek. The path leads up to the 4600 m high pass between the Nevado Salcantay and the Tucarhuay. With every step downhill, the landscape changes suddenly. Green valleys, dense forests and coffee plantations await on the way which end at the hot springs of Santa Teresa. From here you can take the last train to Aguas Calientes.
A cheap alternative is the Inca Jungle Tour (Inca Yangua). In 4 days and 3 nights it consists of a mixture of cycling and hiking and also ends in Machu Pichu. This tour can be booked anywhere in Cusco and starts daily.
There is nothing to report about Machu Picchu that hasn’t been published dozens of times anyway. It is and remains fantastically beautiful, one of the great magical places on earth. So it’s no wonder that millions of people want to enjoy this sight once in their lives. Those who seek solitude will find enough alternatives in the surroundings. For example, a small beautiful hike leads from Aguas Calientes to the beautiful waterfalls of Mandor, known under ornithologists.
After so much culture, nature is urgently in demand. Don’t miss to visit the Manu National Park or the surroundings of Puerto Maldonado. This area forms the tributaries of the Amazon, is known for its biodiversity and keeps its promises.