Posted by Vi Warkentin on
Left all the sand dunes, penguins and pelicans behind and headed back to Jorge Chavez International Airport, Lima for a quick flight to Cuzco, capital of the Inca empire located in south-east Peru, at an altitude of 11,203 ft (3395 m) above sea level. Yup, that’s pretty high up there!
Landed in Cuzco and wasted no time boarding our small van. The itinerary plan - head out of town into the Valley of Urubamba, known as the “Sacred Valley” which is at a lower altitude than Cuzco. Spend a few days at a lower altitude allowing our bodies to better acclimatize to the high altitude in the Cuzco/Puno area.
Following the sound advice that our guide, Julio (Friendly Planet - an awesome tour company ) had repeatedly told us while in Lima allowed us to enjoy our time in the Sacred Valley and Cuzco. Julio’s advice - drink lots of water and even better, Gatorade if you can find it, eat light meals such as soups, don’t eat meat for the first few days, and also stay away from alcohol for the first few days until your body acclimatizes. Stuck to that plan and had no altitude sickness symptoms at all. Thanks, Julio! Never even needed to take the altitude medication my Dr. sent along with me.
The countryside overlooking Cuzco and the Inca ruins of Sacsayhuaman in the foreground (walkable from Plaza de Armas, Cuzco). Cristo Blanco (White Christ) is visible on the hill on the left overlooking the city of Cuzco. Ran out of time to actually hike up to the Cristo Blanco. Heard the views of Cuzco were spectacular from there! We headed out of Cuzco along some rural roads, through the countryside towards Pisac.
Rural homes in the Cuzco area (some with elaborate wall decorations).
Many homes in the area had, what I would have called, a roof decoration so I inquired about its significance.
The arrangement of these ceramic sculptures known as Torito de Pucara varies from village to village and from homeowner to homeowner and I learned that these were not just a roof decoration but something of great significance. In order to honor Pachamama (or Mother Earth) the ceramic sculpture is often placed on the roof of a new house when the home is first blessed and this causes the economic well-being of the family living there. These small ceramic bulls represent happiness, wealth and fertility. The water jugs can also represent fertility. This is just one of the many examples from the mixture of Catholic and native religions.
The gorgeous countryside on the road out of Cuzco to Pisac, some 32 kms away. Usually it’s a one hour car ride or a two hour bus ride from Cuzco - amazing views from the window!
Day 5 - Friendly Planet - Amazing Peru Tour