Our flight from Santiago to Lima was scheduled for the sunrise (1/3/2019) and this was a good opportunity for a short nap. We arrived quite early in the morning at the airport of the Peruvian capital, so the whole day was at our disposal. The first thing we did was to change money (1 euro = 3.76 sol at that time) and book return flights from Belmondo Viajes to Cusco, the legendary Inca capital. There are many flights during the day from Lima to Cusco, but all of them take place only in the morning.
The room we were going to stay was in the Callao area, near the port. The area is like the ones you have in mind when you hear about dangerous places in Latin America. Full of whores, drugs and a diffuse feeling that something bad can happen in the next second. We had to meet the man who was going to take us to the room and finally he took us to the house where his mother-in-law lived! She was really nice, helpful and ready to give us some info about the city, so we left our things, had a bath and went for a walk in Lima. Our flight to Cusco was for tomorrow morning.
In general, Lima concentrates the chaos of South America. On the one hand, in Callao there is extreme and outrageous poverty where you can see open-air markets on dirt and mud and people selling water, soft drinks and newspapers on the street to make a plate of food. On the other hand, in places like the beautiful Miraflores that is bathed by the Pacific Ocean, you see shopping malls, expensive shops, manicured parks and money. Two camps in the same city, just a few kilometers apart, that remind us of the only derby humanity has ever known: The poor versus the rich.
After a few hours of sleep we went back to Jorge Chavez Airport, which is busy enough, to catch our flight fly to Cusco. The flight is about an hour or so. As soon as you arrive in Cusco, you are welcomed with coca leaves. The city where the Incas flourished was built in the form of a puma and is located at an altitude of 3,500 meters. When you walk in the city, you can feel the presence of the Indians everywhere. You will only need some looks in their places, mountains and rivers and you realize almost immediately why they chose this place as the center of their culture.
The large mural that dominates Cusco depicts the battle of Incas and their king Pachacuti against Chankas. According to our tour guides, Pachacuti was the best king of the Incas. His real name was Kushi Inka and in addition to the proper planning in the battles, he also had a political mindset. He understood that the subjugated peoples had to feel part of the Inca empire, so he imposed the Quechua language to remind everyone that they are related. Moreover, he remodeled the capital, stimulated sparsely populated areas and built new cities such as the dazzling Machu Picchu in 1460 AD.
To get to Machu Picchu you need to go from Cusco to Ollantaytambo by bus. From Ollantaytambo you go by train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu village), unless you want to try walking through the Inca trail, about 40 kilometers in Peruvian nature. From Aguas Calientes the distance is 8-9 km to Machu Picchu and you can go by bus or on foot to the entrance. Despite the endless swarms of tourists the place is well preserved to an impressive degree. It has only one entrance and one exit, and only one bar outside. When you enter, you immediately understand why it is considered one of the 7 modern wonders of the world. No matter how many photos and videos you have seen before, the real picture is different and cannot be described
It is not only the districts of the ancient city and their separation. Imagine this: You are at an altitude of only 2,400 meters, but the location of the place is so unique that makes you think you can touch the sky! It is not only the top of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu, but also some huge mountains in all directions of the horizon that make the city almost invisible. It is no coincidence that the Spanish were never able to find her. The mountains stand above the earth like watchful guards. The fog that passes through the peaks, the Urubamba river below, the dozens of mountains and clouds form a seductive landscape. It is natural to feel an intense and mysterious spirituality dominating your mind and body at the same time. Why was this city created? Why was it abandoned? You can see how integrated is the place into the natural environment and, in order to appreciate it more, you need to try to understand the Indian culture.
With our minds full of amazing pictures and my notebook full of small texts we returned to Cusco for some food and sleep. At dawn, an even bigger challenge awaited us: The famous Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountains), found in the Andes of Peru. The mountains are at an altitude that exceeds 5,000 meters and you are quite stressed. The vans that take you there leave you at an altitude close to 4,900 meters and after 2 hours of walking you can reach the top.
Of course, walking at such an altitude is not so easy and it requires a lot of effort. You need to bell prepared, in a good physical condition and follow the instructions of your guide. You see llamas that are lovable animals grazing everywhere and smiling little Indian girls with horses. Your breathing is getting harder and harder, you have stomach upsets, the headache is certain and all this together is a bad combination. If you make it to the top, the view is wonderful and the mountains really have 4-5 different colors.
This is a short description of my trip in Peru in 2019 and also my first text for Triptipedia. I hope you find it interesting. Live your life and don't forget to travel!
PS: The photos belong to Nikos Sioutis
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