Tag Archives: Cuzco

Inca Trail – To Do Or Not To Do? – Journey In Peru

Deciding to travel to Peru from Ireland or Europe can be a big deal especially as the price of the flight is often quite staggering and especially so during peak season. The lure of Machu Picchu, now a World Wonder and famous UNESCO heritage site of the lost Inca civilisation, captures the imagination to the extent that travellers often sign up for the Inca Trail that leads there without ever having done this type of thing before.

There are some important factors to consider before signing up to undertake some days of trekking in Peru. Firstly, I will outline, I have been to Peru twice and have even lived quite close to the Inca Trail but have not done the hike itself. I had my own reasons for this.

Two important factors to consider are, your fitness level and your adjustment to being at higher altitude than usual.

If you excersise a lot, have good stamina, are used to hiking, especially for long durations then possibly you will be more equipped for spending a couple of days of hiking the Inca Trail. If you have not experienced the thrill of hiking in hills and mountains why not join a group in your local area, who are skilled in guiding you and see if you enjoy the experience. Your expensive holiday should definitely be one that you fully enjoy.

If you have already lived in high altitude environments then you will know your bodies adjustment and reaction to this. If you have not experienced being at high altitude it is very important to educate yourself on the symptoms and effects that can occur. You really don’t know until you go, how this will effect you. It has no bearing on age or fitness level.

Machu Picchu (2430m asl) is actually at a much lower altitude level than cities such as Cuzco and Puno for example. It is best to acclimatise slowly by spending a few days in high altitude before attempting hiking treks that take you further away from access to medical care.

Always heed the signs of altitude sickness and report to your guide if travelling in a group. Guides should be trained in health and safety. Tour companies usually have these saftey guidelines well out-lined for their clients.

Peru is an amazing country with so much to offer. Machu Picchu may be its crowning glory for tourists but there is so much more to discover such as the Amazon area, Lake Titicaca and its floating reed islands and Uros civilisation, Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley, Cuzco City once the capital of the Incas and Arequipa’s volcanoes and architecture.

Floating Reed Islands and Uros People on Lake Titicaca

Floating Reed Islands and Uros People on Lake Titicaca

Many people travel solo and do the back-packer thing which can be less luxurious and less expensive, while many others take advantage of an organised tour which take you much more quickly around the vast circuit of treasures in a shorter space of time.

Arequipa Peru Volcano

Arequipa Peru Volcano

Trekking and hiking can be a lot of fun and brings a sense of achievement and opportunity for bonding with fellow trekkers. Whatever you decide, be safe, be well and choose the option that will make your travel experience the most enjoyable for you.

If you do consider trekking the Inca Trail have some consideration for the ones dedicated to carrying your back-pack. This is a service that is provided for travellers within tour groups. I have spoken with one young man who did this work for a while before he studied for the hospitality industry. His recollection of carrying the heavy back-packs of travellers was not the most joyous. So put yourself in the shoes of others and pack as lightly as possible.

Enjoy your trip. If you have enjoyed my blog and this post and found it particularly useful why not repay me by sharing the post or leaving a comment.

© Caroline Cunningham – Author of Wild Star Landing and Journey In Peru

 

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For Your Eyes Only – Journey In Peru

My story ‘Journey in Peru’ is coming to an end. If you think the ending was a simple matter of getting a taxi to airport and flying straight to Ireland, well no, the journey’s end had even more adventure to be lived.

Journey In Peru Book Coming Soon

Journey In Peru Book Coming Soon

 

Journey In Peru - Available Soon

Journey In Peru – Available Soon

Soon I will be publishing my story in its entirety, available for purchase through on-line stores and my websites.

This will serve as a forerunner and introductory to my first novel once published, which details the adventures of fictional character Kitty Clinch in Peru, that damsel who lured me to Peru a second time.

Journey In Peru - Mini Novel

Journey In Peru – Mini Novel

Thank you once again for reading and especially those of you who showed appreciation through comments and ‘likes’. I have received the highest praise a writer could wish for, from readers who contacted me in person to say exactly how my story made them feel. This is the ultimate reward for a writer, and especially one who has arrived late in years to this wonderful art form of expression through words.

Machu Picchu - Journey In Peru

Machu Picchu – Journey In Peru

You can sign up for the final posts (installments) of ‘Journey In Peru’ by entering your email address in the space provided either to the right side of this page (if you are using PC) or at the very bottom of the post (if using mobile phone). The ‘follow’ (subscribe) form is also found on the Home page and the ‘About’ section. All set for the ending of ‘Journey In Peru’!

Journey In Peru - Available soon

Journey In Peru – Available soon

©Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

 

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One Direction – Journey In Peru

I said goodbye to my companions who had travelled with me from Ollantaytambo. They were heading straight to Lima from Cuzco airport. We kept in touch by text until they stepped aboard their plane.

On my final night I treated myself to a room in what was considered to be a posh hotel in Cuzco. My companions told me it was the chain in which ‘One Direction’ (band) had stayed when touring Lima. The room I was shown however, had a dismal view of an internal concrete chamber. I enquired if there could be another option available. The staff were reassuring and asked if I could wait twenty minutes. I was astounded by the outcome after being escorted to my room. I had been given the Presidential Suite with a view of the entire Plaza De Armas of Cuzco!

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

I was so thrilled I took photos of the room and sent them to my friends saying ‘I think I’m ‘One Direction’!’ As I sat in amazement looking out the window at the stunning view of the Inca capital my brain grappled with the reward it was receiving.

Cuzco City Peru

Cuzco City Peru

I most definitely had been lured by some other-worldly force, to visit this country of Peru. I had written uncontrollably from the moment of my first arrival, the year previous to this, completing my first ever novel. I had subsequently stepped into the pages of my own book, having created a curiosity in terms of a sequel.

Fact and fiction had become inter-twined. I yearned, as much as Kitty Clinch or any other fictional character, for an adventure of my own. What makes a heroine? Is it the things she would do for love, real love? And does anyone on this planet know what that truly is? I can safely say there are a great many people, men as well as women, aching to know the answer to this question. And of the love that lies within, can it ever find you, if you feign defeat against the haunting conflict of your past?

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

The view from my presidential suite pulsed with a sensation of terrific reality. Was I proud of Kitty Clinch or was it that she was proud of me? For four months I had observed her whilst sitting at a tiny desk in my rented bedroom in Dublin, with a hot water bottle on my lap and the cold breeze nipping at my fingers as I typed beside a draughty window.

Cuzco Capital Of The Incas

Cuzco Capital Of The Incas

Incredibly, this character had inspired me to arrive at this grand position of observation. The whole city of Cuzco was spread out before my eyes. Christ stood, with outstretched arms, between the elevated Inca temples of the Sun and the Moon. The memories of my visits to both of these locations were cancelling each other out with the intensity of opposite emotions. I felt like an Inca Chief standing there and I’m proud to be the teller of the tale.

Christ in Cuzco

Christ in Cuzco

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

© Caroline Cunningham Author of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Dear Reader,

I am preparing to publish my blog as a mini-novel and introduction to my original novel inspired by my first Journey In Peru. I am really grateful to the readers who have taken time to ‘like’ my posts and especially those who have contacted me tell me how much they have enjoyed my writing. Your comments are very much appreciated. If you are interested in purchasing a copy of ‘Journey In Peru’ please stay tuned in the coming weeks and all will be revealed.

Kind regards,

Kitty Clinch (oops!) Caroline Cunningham

Every Day A Celebration – Journey In Peru

Everyday gives cause for celebration and in Peru this is especially so. I witnessed many parades, festivals and demonstrations of the Peruvian culture during my nine weeks there. There is a Catholic Saint dedicated to almost every profession you can think of, along with days of thanksgiving to the natural elements such as the Earth, Water and all that comes from these sources.

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Celebrating Saint of Police Peru

Patron Saint Of Police - Celebration in Peru

Patron Saint Of Police – Celebration in Peru

Parades featured music, dancing, flowers and decorated ornamental dolls held high. Often those parading would be dressed in colourful costumes of various traditions.

Water Day - Peru

Water Day – Peru

In the city of Cuzco, once the Inca capital of the World, these demonstrations were more frequent and colourful but even in this small town of Ollantaytambo they had their ways of putting on a show.

Cuzco Celebrations

Cuzco Celebrations

Independence Day was the most spectacular of all during my stay. Day Of The Water saw little children parading with balloons and banners displaying the importance of clean water for washing teeth and various activities. The water in Peru is often not fit for drinking so it was interesting that little children should be highlighting this.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

The day of the patron saint of transport saw every taxi and minibus parked up with balloons floating above them. The patron saint of the police gave rise to a gathering of police and their families drinking beer outside the station. When locals get married it is customary for the couple to parade around the town accompanied by a brass band playing the same tune I heard in other parts of Peru the previous year.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Passing by the door of the church in the square one Sunday I waited a while to observe the goings on. The paintings on the walls were not the typical ones you’d see in a Catholic church, in fact, they displayed images more in line with the history of the people and their original beliefs, which were more associated with nature. At communion time the music switched to a Salsa rhythm and I learned afterwards that only those who had recently taken confession were eligible to receive.

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

Independance Day Ollantaytambo Peru

I had the privilege of being the onlooker of these eventful days. I concluded that I was living amongst a joyful nation. Each group taking its turn to keep the collective spirit high, perhaps preventing obsessions that rob the heart of its rightful state of sharing and being free.

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Fiesta Del Carmen Peru

Back in Ireland, the closest resemblance of this joyous celebration was the sound of Harry Krishna’s beating their drums, dancing and singing, on their way down Dublin’s South William Street now and then. I always opened the window a little wider to hear them more clearly.

Having returned to live in the Irish countryside, I listen to the birds singing in the trees. They are either Peruvian or of the Harry Krishna faith because they sure know how to greet each new day in celebration.

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

Long Listed Best Travel Blog in Ireland Blog Awards 2015

Going Home – Journey In Peru

As the mini-bus (taxi) commenced its journey through the Sacred Valley the spirits of the mountains were wrapping their reassuring arms around me. I was going home to my little story book town of Ollantaytambo. I belonged there.

I looked forward to seeing those smiling faces that greeted me all those days of the last seven weeks or so. I was glad to be leaving the city of Cuzco. I had battled there, lost, just like the Incas to the Spanish, torn apart, quartered and reassembled in a more simplified version of myself. But I had a ticket to Machu Picchu, something real to look forward to. And friends were eager to see me.

Journey In Peru - Through The Sacred Valley

Journey In Peru – Through The Sacred Valley

Through The Sacred Valley Cuzco Peru

Through The Sacred Valley Cuzco Peru

As soon as I set foot inside the door of my lodgings I was introduced to a newcomer to the town. A Peruvian gentleman who had recently moved to the area and had already become acquainted with my pals. He was on his way to Casa De Anna. I was encouraged to go along. It was only two minutes walk away.

When we arrived at Casa De Anna a science experiment was already underway. The Peruvian gentleman, an educated fellow by University degrees, explained to me what was happening here. Anna, the lady of the house provided science classes for some primary school children after school. Travelling visitors to the area were welcome to volunteer their knowledge to engage the children in fun and challenging ways to encourage creative scientific thinking. I recognised some of the visitors as they were not only skilled in other fields of education but also talented musicians who sometimes provided concerts at Misha Wasi.

Science Experiment In The Sacred Valley Peru

Science Experiment In The Sacred Valley Peru

I quickly got an idea and ran back to my hotel room to get my laptop. A few years previous I had been a presenter for Astronomy Ireland. I had developed a programme for introducing young children to the planets of our Solar System, the history of Astronomy and life on the International Space Station.

Apart from English language I had only ever attempted to present the course in my own native Irish language on a few occasions and never expected to have the opportunity to present it in Spanish.

Using my laptop presentation, I did my best to explain to the musician guys in Spanish, as this was their first language, being from various other parts of South America. They seemed to grasp my meaning and I realised that I was in fact teaching them some things they were also learning for the first time.

Volunteer Science Class - - Journey In Peru

Volunteer Science Class – – Journey In Peru

My mind was so distracted by this activity it was the perfect remedy for me. I also recalled an experiment which had been imparted to me by a N.A.S.A. engineer who I had met in the Coffee Tree Cafe. It was designed to explain to children, the basis for verifying the shape and existence of quarks (sub-atomic particles). It involved the use of ball-bearings, a board and some cut out blocks of various shapes such as circle, square and triangle. The board sits above the shape so as to hide which one is underneath. By rolling the ball bearings under the board and observing the angle of their rebound it could eventually be determined which shaped block was underneath the board. This was a simplified version of a more sophisticated experiment used by nuclear scientists, so I was told by the man from NASA.

Soon the lessons were over and the children were leaving for their homes. Anna produced a bottle of red wine and everyone was invited to stay a while. I was conscious however of the smoky atmosphere as cigarettes were lighting up. I had cultivated a respect for an art of mine that required a clean instrument so I declined the offer in favour of an early night.

Journey In Peru

Journey In Peru

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

Night Time Ollantaytambo Peru

I had discovered what lay behind yet another door in this magical town. There was so much more to be discovered but I was running out of time. Now I needed to make the most of it. Absolutely!

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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Temple Of The Moon – Journey In Peru

Upwards the mini-bus spun in steep ascent along the spiralling road. After a thirty minute drive we reached the final stop. In early morning silence we crossed the largely isolated plateau.

A couple wearing traditional Andean costumes walked further ahead with some intent. Only horses in the distance and further away a row of modest houses towards the overhang of the flat terrain, no doubt, with awesome views of the city. Despite this, it didn’t strike me as a place sought after as valuable real estate.

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco Peru

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco Peru

Things didn’t seem to make sense about this area known as Temple Of The Moon. Why was it so quiet up here? A place full of contemplative beauty. A cool sun was blazing strong upon the grasses. Despite the added elevation above the Inca capital, distant mountains boasted a spectacle of higher peaks. A relatively short drive away Cuzco bustled with life but here an uncanny stillness invaded every space.

Entrance To Temple Of The Moon

Perhaps it was too early for a visit to a place of night time rituals. At the entrance of The Temple Of The Moon a woman dressed in council clothing said we should come back later. It seemed she could be persuaded to let us enter but shoes had to be removed as a token of respect.

Snake – Inca Symbol – Cuzco Peru

Puma – Inca Symbol – Cuzco

 

Condor – Inca Symbol – Cuzco

We entered the crevice noting the mouldings of rock that represented the Inca symbols of Puma, Condor and Snake signifying unity of all that is above, below and in between.

It took some moments for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. Further in, a shaft of light from above revealed a smooth alter of rock. Hundreds of years ago, spiritual leaders of the Inca tribes had performed sacred rites during full moon worship in this very place but my companion lamented that nowadays the goings on are more scandalous than sacred. Perhaps this is why the place was so deserted. A darker force had invaded the territory.

Temple Of The Moon – Peru

Temple Of The Moon – Cuzco

We collected our shoes and continued walking towards another opening in the rocks. I wandered over to a high alter upon which some dishes containing ashes were laid amongst scattered coca leaves. I reached to pick up one of the dishes to get a closer look. My companion shouted a warning to me not to touch but it was too late. The practice of magic is very much alive in this part of Peru but it is not all well intended I am told. By touching the remnants of this aftermath of ritual a darkness intended for another might accidently divert itself to me. I understood the power of intentions, I had been at the receiving end of both extremes.

Rituals at Temple Of The Moon

Magic Rituals Cuzco Peru

I made a mental effort to protect myself from any harm but already my defences were weak. I felt the weight of sadness taking over. It had been building steadily these last few days. Soon I could walk no further and sank down onto the grass, sobbing uncontrollably. Any attempt to stop just made things worse. My companion sat patiently next to me with little hope to offer. We had sought to transform our lives, to work together, that was the plan, but something had changed. I didn’t understand it. Was it a sick trick on his part or had I been desperately fooling myself for this last year?

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

I couldn’t speak. Deep down I knew this was not the only reason I had come to Peru. I was trying to accept something more difficult than this. A heart being closed to me was not something new. Years spent changing my ways, understanding forgiveness had helped but had not altered this capacity to be overthrown so deeply. I had not realised the true meaning of ‘free will’. It was time to let go. Deciding to travel was a determination to expect something better. At this moment I was not sure what that could ever represent.

Temple Of The Moon Cuzco

Temple Of The Moon Peru

On the brow of a distant slope we spied again the man and woman attired in the traditional clothing. They were busy with garments, following a very old tradition. They had been washing the clothing of ‘The Dead’ in a nearby stream and now they were spreading them upon some rocks to dry. It made sense to me now, being here, in this ethereal place called The Temple Of The Moon, with its dark forces and deserted charm whilst emptying the sadness of my heart. There is a place for everything.

Temple Of The Moon – Rituals Peru

The sun continued to shine strongly and the sky was intent on being blue. Moving forward was the only option. I stood up. We continued in the direction of the road. A bus was conveniently waiting. There was no looking back. My business in Cuzco had come to an end. On my next visit I would be bound for the airport to make my way home to Ireland.

Moon ove Cuzco Peru

Moon ove Cuzco Peru

Moon over Cuzco Peru

Moon over Cuzco Peru

Inca Rituals (Musuem in Cuzco)

Inca Rituals (Musuem in Cuzco)

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)

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Sexy Woman – Journey In Peru

In Cuzco there is a tourist ticket that covers a multitude of Inca sites both in the city and in The Sacred Valley, including the ‘Fortalezza’ in Ollantaytambo. It is excellent value to avail of this ticket which saves on individual entry fees at each location.

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

You also have the option of taking a tour with a guide on a bus which takes you to all the Cuzco sites listed on this ticket. These tickets and tours are on sale at numerous tourist offices throughout the city centre. The tour bus is very convenient but if you have more time the Sacsayhuaman site is deserving of a longer visit.

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

‘Sexy Woman’ is how the English speaking visitors often refer to this UNESCO heritage site elevated high above the city. The name is derived from the Quechua language the first part meaning ‘full’ or ‘satisfied’ and the second part of the name is thought to refer to a falcon. It is also believed to have been an important site of sun worship in Inca times.

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

Sacsayhuaman Cuzco Peru

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The enormous boulders of rock situated in labyrinth style reaching into the heavenly blue sky creates a striking visual impression. Looking down into the deep bowl of the city you get a glimpse of what convinced the Incas that this was the centre of their world. Mountains graced the surrounding area and created the perfect protective space within for dwellers, at least until the arrival of the infamous Pizarro who came to conquer.

Wild Star Landing - Journey In Peru

Wild Star Landing – Journey In Peru

The city sparkled a shiny miniature of itself, with the sun bouncing its rays from glassy surfaces. The low rise organisation of buildings and parks dotted with leafy trees and fountains all seemed so particular and fun to the tourist eye. Close by, a statue of Catholic Christ stood large with outstretched arms overlooking the city dwellers adding to the sense of sanctuary.

Christ Statue Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Cuzco Peru

Cuzco - Former Inca Capital Peru

Cuzco – Former Inca Capital Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Plaza De Armas Cuzco Peru

Every city has its darker side and down below despite the busy endeavours of people selling their wares there were stories of anguish that would break a heart to hear them. Hence the amount of volunteer ‘not for profit’ businesses in the area. A salary is not a profit, I didn’t understand this concept originally. In any case thanks to these charity businesses, international volunteers are in no short supply, giving hope to many.

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

City Tour Cuzco Peru

I took the city tour in the company of a Romanian traveler whom I befriended on my second, slightly longer visit to Cuzco.

Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Night Time Cuzco Peru

Christ Statue Night Time Cuzco Peru

©Caroline Cunningham Author Of Wild Star Landing (Blog)