The Sacred Valley of the Incas, located between the towns of Pisaq and Ollantaytambo, was very valuable during the Tahuantinsuyo times for its geographical and weather characteristics that favor the production of the best corn in Peru. Crossed by Vilcanota River, it is one of the most visited places by tourists as it includes de archaeological sites of Sacsayhuaman, Qenko, Tambomachay, Moray, and Ollantaytambo. Its handicraft markets in Pisaq and in Chinchero are also well known.

It’s impressive geography includes terraces, ravines,snow-capped mountains and ruins once built by ancient Peruvians turning the Sacred Valley of the Incas into an ideal place for various aoutdoor activities such as mountain biking, rafting along the Urubamba river or experiencing an alternative tourism called “turismo viviencial”.

Anywhere you go in the world, there tends to be a well trodden path created by many tourists who have visited the most famous landmarks over the years. This is no different in Peru. People who take Peru holidays usually start off in Lima, which is a fascinating and culturally rich city in itself, before heading to Cusco, which is also an extremely appealing destination. Then it is on to Machu Picchu, either by train or via the Inca Trail.

While this is undoubtedly a fantastic itinerary for a holiday of a lifetime, I found that taking a slightly different route to this proved to be a shrewd decision. Instead of heading directly for Cusco, I opted to take the lengthy journey from Lima to Puno. I had heard that few people explore this region of the South American country, but those who do tend to rave about the experience.

This was a chance to see the real Peru and interact with some of its people. Having reached Puno, I made the short journey to the amazing Lake Titicaca, which is one of the most picturesque settings I have ever come across. Although it takes a little while to acclimatise to the high altitude and wildly fluctuating temperatures, the opportunity to communicate with villagers in the area was priceless. The welcome we received was warm and friendly and the Luquina Peninsula – which is one of the more remote parts of the region – provided ample opportunity for some great countryside walks.

Heading to Llachon the following day proved to be a bizarre, yet exhilarating experience. The communities that inhabit the area have maintained traditional values and even dress in clothes that would not have looked out of place in the 15th Century. The whole simplicity of the agriculture was a joy to see for someone who is accustomed to the UK rat race. The tour also included a kayaking excursion over the lake towards the Uros Islands. What was most striking was the sheer tranquillity of the lake, with the only noise being the swish of our oars in the water. Once we reached the islands, we were again treated to a first-hand view of the old way of life, with very few other tourists in sight.

All of this had happened before I had even reached Machu Picchu and I couldn’t help but feel that I had experienced so much more than those who head straight for the Inca Citadel. Anyone planning an adventure holiday in Peru in the future really should not be afraid to stray off the beaten track.

Cusco Food Tour, Peru

#6 Chicha Morada

Chica Morada
The chicha Morada is a drink from the Andean region of Peru. However, now its consumption can be found at a nacional level. Its history and consumption
reaches back to the pre-Hispanic era. It’s the drink of the Incas, made from purple corn.

#5 TamalesTamales
Although it they are popular in Mexico, tamales are also important in Peruvian cooking. According
to ancient records, tamales came to Peru by the way of African slaves. It can be eaten sweet or unsweet
with meat.

#4 Huevos de Codorniz
Quail eggs are characterized by their size and brown/blue color. They are like a glass of milk: they are very nutritious.
They contain vitamin A,B,C,D,E, and other minerals.They are also low in cholesterol.

#3 Anticuchos
It’s a pre-Columbian tradition that can be found on most street corners in Cusco. The term is derived from the Quechua language
antikuchu, anti=Andes, kuchu=cut. In 2005, the Association of Anticucheros presented the largest anticuchu in the world. It was
considered by the Guinnesss Book of World Records.

#2 Queso Helado
Dessert of the gods! But it doesn’t contain cheese, it has the ingredients of cheese.It’s made from a mixture of milk, cocoa, vanilla and after cinnamon and cloves are sprinkled on top. It can be found on Avenue Cultura.

#1 Churros
FOOD OF THE GODS! Churros are the most popular of street foods, and the best. They are made from fried dough rolled in sugar. The best in Cusco
can be found at the intersection of Matara and Meson de la Estrella.

Just a couple of weeks ago, I went on a tour around the land of unique terraces as I describe it in the preceding post. It was on bus as well as on foot. On the way to Maras from the terraces of Moray on the bus, I was able to watch two cyclists riding slowly through the plain. They looked like tiny spots in the middle of this vast prairie. Staring at them as the bus went away, I wished to be one of those riders. Sooner than later, my wish came true.
And I was lucky enough to join a bunch of special young french. They all six came to Perú looking for adrenalin and sightseeing. With them I had the chance not only to ride on mountain bikes but also to paddle kayaks on the hightest navigable lake in the world . They also enjoyed bicycling through the Colca Canyon in the department of Arequipa and doing river rafting on the Vilcanota River in Cusco.

Well, this morning we head for the small town of Cruzpata. On our way, the bus stops at the lookout of Ccorimarca or the Place of Gold in quechua language to have a better look of the scenery. In Cruzpata we meet Joel, our guide and bike caretaker. He wears long hair, a piercing in his ear, and his skin is tattoed with andean patterns. That tells me that he also loves this land of the Incas even though he was born in Ecuador.

Put on the helmets, check out the wheels, adjust the height of the seat post. The adventure is about to begin! Grip the handlebars, fit one foot on the pedal, get up on the bike. We are all ready for speed!
We cycle from Cruzpata to the terraces of Moray. Then we go to Maras where we reload our energy. Afterwards, a smooth slope leads us to the salt mines or Salinas (see last picture). The slope gets steeper as we go down to the town of Tarabamba, the end of our ride.
Through our race, we experience the beauty as well as the strength of nature. The dry wind blows our faces. The terrain gives us relief when it is even. Suddenly, it becomes hard work as we encounter sheer ascends and descents. Our steering abilities are tested on a ground strewn with pebbles and rocks.

Villagers go by greeting us as they take care of their herds of sheep and cows. I have not seen any llama on the route, unfortunately.

This is a one-day biking trip. We were in Tarabamba at 4:15pm.
The level of difficulty is intermediate as Joel tells me. It may be so because out of nine riders, only three “bite the dust”, including me. But that is awesome!
wanna ride my bike?

By the way, this 3rd and 4th of october the town of Maras celebrates the Feast of the Saint Francisco de Asís. Moreover, the 8th of october is going to be held a Moray Raymi or Feast of Moray in the very terraces of Moray with exhibition of traditional dances. You can show up there on a bus, taxi, on foot, or even better, on a bike.

Vista desde el aire, los grandes muros de piedra que sostienen Machu Picchu parecen un elemento más del agreste paisaje de las montañas y no un invento del hombre andino. El Santuario Historico de Machupicchu es un patrimonio cultural y natural que cuenta con 35 grupos arqueologicos, siendo el principal de todos la ciudadela de Machu Picchu; esta alberga al 10% de la flora y al 20% de la fauna existente en el Perú.

Machupicchu es el Parque arqueologico mas conocido y espectacular del Continente, considerado por la UNESCO como Patrimonio Cultural de Humanidad. Ademas de las maravillas arqueológicas, posee una flora exótica con mas de 180 especies de orquideas, asi también, una fauna abundante teniendo entre ellos al oso de anteojos y al gallito de las rocas (rupicola Peruvianis) ave nacional.
Se cuenta de Machu Picchu que pudo ser el refugio de las ñustas o virgenes del sol, por lo cual fue Ciudad Sagrada, esta teoría se da porque a la llegada de los españoles, los gobernantes Incas, con el fin de evitar mas latrocinios, hicieron escapar a estas mujeres escogidas a un lugar secreto en los Andes, resultando ser este lugar la ciudad de Machu Picchu; esta teoría se explica también por el hallazgo de 107 restos humanos, de los cuales el 68.9% eran restos de mujeres. Una tercera teoria plantea que Machu Picchu fue la última Capital del Imperio y que Vilcabamba fue la última ciudad a donde se retiraron los incas al mando de Manco Inca en el ano de 1536 cuando fue vencido por los españoles luego de sitiar el Cusco.

El nombre Quechua de esta ciudad se debe a la toponimia de la montaña que se denomina Machu Picchu, palabra que descompuesta quiere decir Machu = anciano, Picchu= montaña. Esto vendría a significar montaña anciana, pero el nombre de los restos arqueológicos propiamente dicho pudo ser Markanay.

El Santuario Historico de Machupicchu tiene un area de 32,592 hectareas, la altitud es de 2490 msnm tomando como referencia a la Plaza Principal del sitio arqueológico, por hallarse en una zona subtropical posee una temperatura que oscila entre los 8º a 22º C. Los meses mas lluviosos van desde Diciembre hasta Abril.

El Acceso se da por via ferrea (112.5 Km – 4 horas aprox), desde la estacion de San Pedro en Cusco, hasta la estación de Aguas Calientes y luego se asciende en Bus por carretera hasta el Santuario Historico de Machu Picchu lapso que dura 30 minutos aproximadamente.

La ciudadela de Machu Picchu constituye, de lejos, el más importante de los atractivos turísticos del Cusco. Se ubica a 3 h de viaje en tren desde la ciudad, aunque también se puede llegar a ella en helicóptero (30 min) o a pie (4 días por el Camino Inca). Descubierta en 1911 por el explorador norteamericano Hiram Bingham, esta ciudadela es considerada una de las más extraordinarias muestras de arquitectura paisajística del mundo.

Enclavada en la cima de una montaña que domina el profundo cañón del río Urubamba, en plena selva tropical, constituía a la vez centro de culto y observación astronómica y hacienda privada de la familia del Inca Pachacútec.
Consta de dos grandes áreas: una agrícola, formada principalmente por andenes y recintos de almacenaje de alimentos; y otra urbana, en la que destaca la zona sagrada, con templos, plazas y mausoleos reales trabajados con un exquisito nivel de perfección. Las escalinatas y canales de piedra labrada son una constante a lo largo de este singular sitio arqueológico. Frente a la ciudadela se levanta el cerro Huayna Picchu, al que se accede por un empinado camino de piedra.

This exceptional and spectacular celebration takes place in the city of Puno -on the shores of Lake Titicaca – between the 1st and 14th of February of each year. It begins at 4:00 am of the first day with the “albas”, at which point fireworks, or the like, are thrust into the dawn sky. The central date is preceded by 9 days of preparation – the ”novenario” , and the celebration prolong itself for 8 days past the central date, period known as the “octava”.

Of all dances organized by local dance crews, the diablada is the most characteristic and lavich.

There are, as well, plenty of important differences in musical instruments. Countrymen play sicus (wind instruments similar to the zampoña, with 6 or 7 tubes), tarcas (flutes, each fabricated from one solid piece of elongated wood), picullos (crosswise flutes that measure 21 to 30 cm) and quenas (straight flutes of a variable number of orifices depending on regions of origin). City men, nevertheless, interpret their melodies with musical bands. The competition is so fierce, that famous instrumentalist from La Paz, Oruro and Cochabamba (Bolivia) are contracted.

It is located in the district of Vilcabamba, on the skirts of the snowcapped mount Yanacocha, in the province of La Convención. The highway to Abancay gets you here from Cusco. In kilometer 154 a detour is taken to the town of Cachora; there a 30 km road made on horseback or trekking takes you to the archaeological center that has an importance comparable to Machu Picchu. According to the specialists, it would have been a religious, political and economic enclave – as well as a comercial and cultural link between the coast, the highlands and the jungle – buit during the command of Inca Pachacútec. It is divided into nine sectors and its architecture is distributed around a large area or main square. It includes hundreds of agricultural terraces, rooms and irrigation systems.