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  • Writer's pictureRoger Yates


29th March 2004 Train to Cusco - beats Connex SE trains anyday! Alpaca herds, small villages, and STRAIGHT THROUGH the middle of a market (Juliaca) - stall roofs literally inches away from the train windows (only knocked one down on the way through!). 30th March - 7th April Cusco and surroundings. Lots of impressive ruins. Inca masonry very skillful - couldn´t even squeeze a credit card between the stones of the palaces/temples. Of course, commoners´ buildings weren´t as expertly done, but nice nonetheless. Roger was persuaded to go on a day trip to see several ruins on the promise of seeing "sexy woman" at the end of it. Turned out it was a place called Sacsayhuaman instead. Still very nice, but not what he was expecting (see pic). The Inca Trail Started with visit to porters´ village and a quick game of football with the local kids (who were fascinated with digital camera!). Bit of a dance with the porters & wives to extremely long songs on "traditional" guitars. Following morning the trail began. Felix, our guide, was excellent and had clearly studied a lot, reeling off latin names for all and sundry on the path (including black widow spiders and eggs... we won´t be lifting any rocks in a hurry!). The Incas certainly knew how to build a path - some parts were 5 metres deep of carefully stacked rocks, to get round a tricky part of the mountain. With more steps than you can shake a stick at (an extremely long one at that). We passed several (6?) Inca sites during ascent to 4200m and subsequent descent to 2400m, the latter part through some very atmospheric secondary cloud forest - trees draped in moss and epiphytes (bromeliads as Felix informed us), and hundreds of orchids in bloom. Stopped at some spectacular campsites and, to cap it all, we ended up at this really interesting archaelogical site. Think it was called, um, Machu Picchu... And the sun shone (see pic). Following overnight stop at Aguas Calientes, took train then minibuses to Ollantaytambo & Pisac for more ruins and more terraces than you can shake an equally large stick at before return to Cusco. 8th-10th April Overnight bus to Nazca, complete with imaginary dodgy local people, with "8am" flight the following morning over the Nazca lines which, after accounting for standard Peruvian delay, actually turned out to be nearer 10am! Shapes of spider, monkey, whales, trapezoids, hummingbird, dog, etc and all sorts of lines on the plains - only discernible when flying. Still noone knows why they made them. There are all kinds of theories: for religious purposes; pointers to sources of water; alien landing markings (the one that goes up and over the hill could be interesting...); shamanic symbols. Nearby are some of the best preserved mummies (from cemetry in ground) in South America (atmosphere is so dry here it hasn´t rained for 1000 years - apparently). Bus to Lima (Royal Class ;-) )

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