Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Peruvian Adventures: And the Dream Lives On . . . .

When asked "why do you want to climb Mount Everest", famous mountaineer George Mallory replied "Because it's there."

Okay, okay so I’m not venturing off to tackle Mount Everest! But I'm still pretty excited about finally visiting a place I had only dreamed of seeing . . . Machu Picchu.

Now, if you ask me, why do I want to travel to Peru to see Machu Picchu? My answer would not be as direct or as simple as the answer that was given by George Mallory.

Honestly, I planned this trip mainly to see Machu Picchu, but the more I had read in my guidebooks and on the Internet about the Incas, the more I have grown to appreciate the Inca history and culture.

Very little is known of the Incas, because they had no written language and so much of their culture were affected by the Spanish invasion. This cloud of mystery is frankly what has intrigued me about Machu Picchu. Did you know that it took 5,000 Incas 100 years to build Machu Picchu. 600 years ago, Cuzco (the city I'll be flying into) was the center of the largest empire in the entire South Americas and it was ruled by the Incas. So who are the Incas? Why did they build Machu Picchu? And more specifically, why did they build it where they did? For many years, this is something that historians and archaeologists have worked tirelessly to uncover and to understand.

The South American civilization took shape two thousand years ago with 13 Inca emperors. The fast rise of the Incas came under the leadership of Pachacuti or "He who remakes the world" and that he did at least for a brief period in history. The Incas were a thriving empire and a growing commercial power with specialties in fabric, ceramics, pottery, stonework and farming techniques. They grew large varieties of crops and stored them in granaries which could last several years during droughts. They created efficient aqua duct systems and as expert builders they also these amazing structures and constructed roadways. So with no written language how did the Incas communicate. Well, they used these knotted and colored rope which are called quipu and these Inca relay runners would carry these quipus to their intended recipient. Sadly, in 1536, the Incas civilization came to an end when their last leader was captured then executed and Spain ruled South America for almost three centuries. For many years, Peru suffered through other rulers after the Spanish, but regained control under Democratic leadership in the twentieth century. Today, Peru's people and culture are an exotic mix of different groups due to its varied history. These differences are reflected in some of what stands today in modern day Peru.

Thousands of people travel to Machu Picchu to marvel at the engineering feat of what the Incas were able to do. And there are thousands more who go to Machu Picchu because they are spiritually drawn there. I’m not sure where I exactly fit in that spectrum, but all I know is that I must see it for myself and there’s no better time than the present. Well, that and the lower exchange rate as compared to going to Europe. :)

Now, when the Spanish Conquistadors came riding in, the Incas put up a good fight. Actually, the town of Ollyantaytamo (where I'll be based) was one such strong hold where Pachacuti (one of the last known Inca Emperors) and the Incas tried to defend against the Spanish. There are Inca ruins as well as Inca structures still in tact and I will spend my time (while acclimating) exploring these structures.

One theory by historians suggests that Pachacuti built Machu Picchu (which means "old mountain") to be used as an estate. Another theory that I had read about Machu Picchu is that it was built to honor the sacred landscape.  With its prime location 7,970 feet above sea level and with the Urubamba (or Willkamayu which is Quechua for "Sacred River") river flowing below, Machu Picchu and several important structures were built and aligned based on the the rising sun and nearby holy mountains (or apus).

When the Spanish conquistadors invaded Peru in the 16th century, the Incas fled into the jungle to a place where the Inca empire came to an end. Hiram Bingham had heard of this last resting place of the Incas referred to as Vilcabamba. Bingham set out to find it when he stumbled onto Machu Picchu in 1911. Under thick vines and moss, there stood Machu Picchu, apparently undiscovered by the Spanish. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983, Machu Picchu was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and has become a top tourist attraction in Peru. Although it is not Vilcambamba as Bingham originally thought, it is still a magnificent archaeological find.

After flying into Cuzco via Lima, I'll be greeted by a driver who will take me to a town called Ollyantambo located in the Sacred Valley. Here I will spend the next several days acclimating to the high altitude. I've decided not to have any set plans other than visiting Machu Picchu (for 3 nights) and visiting these famous local markets in the small villages of Pisac . . . and Chinchero for the two Sundays that I’ll be based in the Sacred Valley for.

There are a couple of tours to Moray (to see the sunken amphitheatre) and to Maras to see the Salinas Salt Flats which my hotel has recommended that I take. I will then leave by train (which is the only way other than hiking 4 days to get Machu Picchu) to the tiny town of MachuPicchu (also known as Aquas Calientes) where I’ll spend 3 nights to see Machu Picchu. I have one day's entrance tickets to Machu Picchu already purchased and printed, but I have had problems securing my 2nd and 3rd day tickets.  I will try to ask my hotel in Olly for assistance in doing that. Who knows, if the weather is nice, I may even try to attempt a day trip from Olly to Machu Picchu to pre purchase my tickets for the bus ride and my additional entrance tickets. After my stay in Aqua Calientes, I will train back to Olly where I will arrange through my hotel for a driver to bring me back to Cuzco. In Cuzco I will spend the remaining 4 nights exploring the sights around the city before my flight back to Los Angeles.

I will have free WiFi connection in all my lodgings, but I'm not sure how fast and/or reliable it will be. I hope to tweet and blog as much as I can. I’ll also try posting more quick videos using a cool app called iMovie. I hope that they will give you the sights as well as the sounds of life in Peru.  Here's a sample of a video I did & even uploaded just from my iTouch.

The focus of my photography will include the grandeur of Machu Picchu and all the Inca sights, but I also want to focus on everyday life in Peru. The people, the culture, the food and the fine details that would otherwise be hidden and/or unnoticed by fast moving tourists on their way to Machu Picchu.

So there you have it. I’m getting the remaining pre-trip preparations done and then I’m off for Peru. I have even scheduled my theme photos for Saturday’s PhotoHunting with Gattina.  Thank you so much to my family, friends, co-workers and all my blogging friends. Your encouragements, inspiration and support helped to make my dreams come true.

And what would a Trekcapri 2013 Peruvian Travel Adventures be without my traditional Trekcapri trip logo.  :)    

And so the dreams lives on in Peru. My next post will hopefully be coming to you live from Peru.

Hasta luego!


  1. I love your new logo! And I'm so excited for you. I know that Machu Picchu has been on your wish list for a long time, so glad you're finally going to visit it. Thanks for all this fascinating info about the Incas.

    Safe travels to you and I can't wait to hear all about it!

  2. Nice post! love to read your blog. Would love to see more and the pics you have clicked are
    really awesome clicks.


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.