Cusco and thereabouts

Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire but not too much of that remains these days though. Instead you’ll find an interesting colonial city brimming with tourists which is understandable considering the density of things to see in the area.

 

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Plaza de Armas from above
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One of the numerous pretty but narrow streets
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On the main square
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An Incan fortress called Saksaywaman (pronounced ‘sexy woman’ no joke!) sits above the city. These solid stone blocks are huge, some weighing hundreds of tonnes and were made without sophisticated machinery and have absolutely no gap between them. Hi mum
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The defensive walls of Saksaywaman
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A popular ‘day’ trip (starting at 3.30am) from Cusco is to hike up to Rainbow Mountain at an elevation of more than 5000m
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You have the chance to see some local indigenous villages on the way
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and llamas and alpacas
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Waiting around to take tourists to the top on horseback

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The views on the way up are fantastic. Plus they have the added benefit of giving you an excuse to stop and appreciate the nature when you’re severely out of breath

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Rainbow mountain! Complete with tourists ruining all my photos
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Rainbow mountain close up
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Rainbow mountain even closer up. Red due to iron, green due to copper and yellow due to sulphur (or oxides thereof)
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While most groups climb to Rainbow mountain and then return along the same path, our group was the only one to do a loop and continue into the aptly-named Red Valley
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It was stunning, even possibly more spectacular than Rainbow mountain itself *gasp*
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Red gave way to green as vegetation increased the lower the elevation
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We found so many llamas and alpacas on our way through the valley. This fluffy fella is an alpaca 
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Sporting the newest Andean hairstyles
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Puno is a city on Lake Titicaca at 3800m. It’s high up. From there you can visit the Uros floating islands made from reeds that grow in the lake
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We were given a demonstration of how the islands are made by the ‘president’ of the island we visited
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It’s extremely interesting to see this way of life even if now it’s only for and supported by tourism
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Taquile Island gives views over the stunningly bright blue of Lake Titicaca. As you heard relentlessly, “The High Commercially Navigable Lake in the World.” 
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Surprisingly and a first for me for any place I’ve visited, men do needlework and knitting
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Muña tea. They also call it an Andean mint. It’s very nice and is supposedly very good for you
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A local girl in traditional dress
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Terraces and the coming storm

 

Next up: Arequipa, condors and canyons

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