Machu Picchu Blog - The Best Inca Trail Blog

20 Wonderful Things to See and Do While Visiting Lima, Peru

Lima is the capital of Peru and while it has a few quirks that are not that great, the entire city can be fascinating and enlightening if a person knows where to go.  No one will find luxurious or lavish things in this city, but that is never supposed to be a person’s goal when traveling.  Instead, people are supposed to immerse themselves into the local culture and traditions, to learn more about the area and the people.  

Here are 20 wonderful things to see and do while visiting Lima, Peru:

1.    Plaza de Armas

A person should go straight to the Plaza de Armas when they arrive in Lima.  This is where the Archbishop Palace is located as well as the Presidential Palace.  The streets around the plaza are filled with numerous shops and restaurants that everyone will love.

2.    Iglesia y convent de san Francisco

This convent dates back quite a few years to the Spanish Conquest, so both the inside and out are considered ancient.  While the famous art work and ancient library are good places to start, no one will want to leave before they see the catacombs.  At the catacombs, some people may feel a little bit out of sorts as they see a lot of human skulls, but the experience is worth the discomfort. 

3.    Museo Larco

The Museo Larco is considered one of the best museums in all South America.  The exhibits show a brilliant display of Pre-Columbian art work that shares the Inca culture.  Everyone should take some time to sit out in the courtyard as they enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite to eat from the excellent restaurant inside the museum. 

4.    Parque de le Reserva

This huge park can be found in the middle of the city and no one will miss it, because it is filled with hundreds of water fountains.  The park has been around since 1929 and while there is no bad time to visit, everyone will want to go there at night when there are laser shows that illuminate the entire park.  

5.    Walk around Miraflores

The tall cliffs are the highlight of Miraflores and people are encouraged to explore them all in depth.  There are also numerous parks in this area, but the most popular one would be the Parque del Armor.  At the end of all the cliffs, people will spot a little lighthouse.  When visitors are finished exploring, they will want to stop in one of the many restaurants or bars for some delicious food and a drink.  

6.    Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana is a humongous pyramid that was constructed from adobe and clay in the middle of the Miraflores area.  While viewing the pyramid might seem amazing enough, the whole truth that it survived over 2,000 years without becoming damaged makes it magnificent.  The reason for that is that one large rainstorm could have washed it away over the years, but since it is so dry in Lima, it hasn’t been a major concern.  

7.    Take a Tour of the Centro Historico de Lima

The entire historic center of Lima was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1988.  This area is where visitors will see quite a few ancient houses with spectacular balconies.  

8.    Museo Oro del Peru

This museum is beginning to show its age, but that doesn’t mean that the exhibits are not worth a visit.  Some of the best items to see include ceremonial knives, burial masques, and an entire collection of Pre-Columbian works made from gold.  

9.    Pachacamac

Pachacamac is a large archeological site that is located to the Southeast of Lima.  The site was used until the Spanish Invasion, but the oldest buildings have been there since 200 A.D.  This area is one of the best places to see and learn about the real heritage of this country.  

10.    Go Windsurfing or Surfing

The water in the Pacific is not that great in terms of calmness or warmth, but it is perfect for those who want to go windsurfing or just surfing.  The strong winds allow the waves to be perfect for these two sports, which is wonderful for those water sports enthusiasts.  

11.    Museo de la Nacion

The Museo de la Nacion is the largest museum in the city that is run by the government.  The best exhibits in the museum include the items in their archeological collection.  While they do have permanent exhibits, they also have rotating temporary exhibits, so there is always something new to see when a person visits.  

12.    Go to a Fiesta

There are numerous religious festivals in Lima, especially during the months of May and June.  Each one is filled with music and people in colorful costumes.  

13.    Visit Lima at Night

There are so many areas of Lima that are perfect for exploring at night, at least near the main roads.  The four best places include the Parque de le Reserva, Huacca Pucllana, Miraflores, and the historical center.  

14.    Museo del Banco Central de Reserva del Peru

This museum can be found in the center of the city and the entire inside includes collections that relate to money and the history of money.  Visitors will see a lot of coins in different shapes as well as different metals that are used.  

15.    Go Paragliding

Paragliding is something that everyone should attempt from the cliffs in Miraflores, because the views from above are amazing.  People can choose to paraglide on their own or they can go on a tandem one with an experienced paraglider.  

16.    Casa di Aliaga

The Casa di Aliaga is a mansion that was constructed back in the 16th century and it is believed to be the oldest house in South America.  People will be amazed as they see this building that has survived many earthquakes, fires, and other disastrous events in the city and country.  

17.    Eat Ceviche

Ceviche is Lima’s famous seafood dish that contains fresh raw fish that is cured in lemon or lime juice and then spiced up with either aji or chili peppers.  Some people will also add salt, chopped onions, and cilantro to this dish.  The ceviche is then served with dishes like sweet potatoes, lettuce, corn, avocado, or plantains.

18.    Shop at Gamarra

The shopping center at Gamarra has twenty thousand textile shops, outlets, and other stores.  Shoppers can find everything from famous designer brands to cheap knock-off items.  However, the best purchases will be the local fashion options that are available.  

19.    Watch a Bullfight at the Plaza de Acho

The bullring at the Plaza de Acho is the best and it is actually considered a national historical monument.  This bullring opened in 1766 and it is the second oldest one in the entire world.  The bullfights are only held during certain festivals, so people should plan their visit accordingly if they wish to see one.  

20.    Drink a Delicious Pisco Sour

The Pisco Sour is the most popular drink in Peru and it is made from Pisco liquor, lemon juice, egg white, and syrup mixed together.  They can be found anywhere, but the best places to enjoy one include salsa bars or a rooftop bar in Miraflores.  

Everyone will enjoy the fact that is hardly ever rains in Lima, but they will also have to get over the fact that the sun is not out too much and clouds fill the skies on a daily basis.  However, despite all that, this capital city is a great place to visit.  There are so many fun and unique things to do and on top of that, everyone can sit and relax while they enjoy their ceviche and pisco sour.  
 

CUSCO TRAVEL TIPS

How to get to Cusco?

By air:   Domestic flights from Lima (1 hour) and from Arequipa (30 minutes) to Cusco.

By land: Lima – Arequipa – Cusco 1650 km (26 hours by car)

Lima – Nazca – Puquio – Abancay – Cusco: 1131 km (20 horas by car)

Puno – Cusco: 389 km (07 hours by car)

By train: Regular service Puno – Cusco: 384 km (10 hours).

 

Where to go at Cusco?

Cusco and its surrounding area breath itself history; there are many places that is worth visiting them, streets and Inca temples, through all over the city, It’s amazing how the stones insert themselves perfectly. With this architecture, one can walk for hours admiring the splendor of the city, you can also do it by bus or hiring a car or a motorcycle, the best option is to hire a professional guide. Inform yourself clicking in travel agencies at Cusco and you would find many offers for your trip:

Here, we present you a list of the places which can be visited not just at Cusco but in its surrounding area:

The main square with the amazing Cathedral, La Compañia de Jesus, some blocks form La Merced. You have to visit also San Blas Quarter, well known as the craftsman quarter, and where you will find a church with the same name, Santo Domingo Convent where Qoricancha is found (The Sun Temple in Inca times).

In the surrounding area, you can visit many Inca archeological remains such as: Saqsaywaman, Qenqo, Puca Pucara, Tambomachay (dedicated to the cult and to the agriculture), As well, the amazing places like Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Piquillacta, Tipon and Pisaq.

Suggestions:

  • · Eat light food, the first days. One has to be careful, to avoid breathing problems or discomfort because of the altitude.
  • · At the moment you arrive to the airport or to the bus station, we recommend you to have a clear idea about where you are going to stay. There taxi drivers who try to confuse the passengers taking them to other lodgements that are not like the tourist want and taxi driver take advantage of it.
  • · If you are an experienced traveler, before beginning your trip, buy your tourist ticket…

What to do?

Adventure sports

Cusco has geographical areas and appropriated climates to practice these kind of sports. Lakes, rivers, mountains, circuits and lands are much appropriated to practice rafting, parachute jumping, hang gliding, mountain bike, trekking and motocross and many others.

 

Purchases

Cusco has many shopping centers and handmade stores, as well as specialized stores. The tourist can buy souvenirs, fabrics, different kinds of vicuña and alpaca wool clothing.

 

Night Life

There are always going to find opened bars and discotheques all night      where you will enjoy the music, dancing with our pretty females and    taste the most exotic international and national drinks. Many of them         offer live shows with musical groups; national, regional or international groups.

 

Cuisine

You will find an assorted list of main dishes at the restaurants of Cusco (good meat, red trout or pejerrey of Titicaca Lake), delicious sauces, delicious dishes  cooked by the chef and Peruvian Creole food like the Seco de Cordero,  ceviche, lomo saltado, anticuchos or a Cusquenian cuy. You will also find  international dishes as Argentinean meats, Chicken Curry, red trout at the    florentina style.

Blog Category: 

The fortress of Sacsayhuaman

The site is located just outside of Cuzco/Cusco, at a height of 3.555 meters above the sea level, higher than Machu Picchu. The ruins are located where the districts San Cristobál and Cuzco meet (both of them parts of the Cuzco province and department).

Sacsayhuamán used to be an Inca fortress, battles between the locals and the Spaniards took place here.

 

The immense fortress was put together with huge stone blocks, but nobody knows how these components were cut, moved and put into place. Sacsayhuamán’s architecture reflects great skills, knowledge. From the point of view of construction, it is more impressive and mysterious than Machu Picchu (which is rather admired for its beautiful location, remoteness and little known past).

Many travelers who travel to Machu Picchu also take the time to visit this wonder of the Incas. It is so close to Cuzco that you can go visit on foot.

Visiting this marvel of the Incas can be a unique experience, if you’re in Cuzco, then this is a “must see” attraction.

Interestingly, the Incas have built Cuzco in the shape of a Puma, which was a holy animal in the belief of the ancient Incas. While Cuzco was the belly of the Puma, this fortress was its head.

Muyucmarca, the remains of a tower at Sacsayhuamán

Often mentioned as Muyuq Marka (most correct in Quechuan), Muyuqmarca or Muyucmarka, Moyoc Marca is a small Inca ruin consisting of 3 concentric circular walls, all connected with radial walls. It is located within the Sacsayhuamán archaeological site.

3 water channels were constructed which were probably used to fill a reservoir in the centre of the site. Not much is known about Muyucmarca, there are a multitude of theories, speculations around what its purpose might have been.

Chronicle writer Garcilaso de la Vega wrote that there were 3 towers at Muyucmarca, at the top of the walls. The towers were constructed at equal distances from each other, forming a triangle. The main tower was erected in the centre and it was a cylindrical-shaped one, this was called Muyuq Marca/Muyuqmarca (or the other variations of the name, as you wish), the other 2 were: Paucar Marca and Sallaq Marca or Sallacmarca/Sallaqmarca, these were both rectangular shape.

Why was the main tower round and the other 2 rectangular remain unknown. Round towers are less stable, allowing lower maximum heights. If one wants to construct high structures, then rectangular shapes are ideal, because they offer more stability.

The mysteries around the construction of Sacsayhuamán

Sacsayhuamán used to be a huge fortress of the Incas, which was said to have has high towers and could hold over 5.000 people. Today the structure is in ruins, but still impresses with its size and architectural mysteries. Some of the stone blocks that were used to construct it are as large as a medium-sized truck and are still in place today.

Without any sort of mortar, these immense blocks, some weighing over 50 tons, are still tightly stuck together like puzzles.

The biggest stone block of the fortress weights around 120 tons. For comparison: this is twice the weight of an M1 Abrams tank. Imagine, how did the Incas move such an immense piece of rock with precision? No to mention, how did they cut these blocks so that they perfectly fit together.

Sacsayhuamán, called the “House of the Sun” during Inca times was overrun by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro’s army and much of it destroyed.

 

Francisco Pizarro’s younger brother, Juán Pizarro was seriously wounded in a battle here and died the next day.

Sacsayhuamán is one of the most impressive structures that you’ll ever find in Peru. The Spaniards were shocked to discover how the Incas have constructed such an immense fortress. In military technology the Spaniards were far superior to the Incas, a culture which the invaders considered inferior to theirs (of course, the Incas didn’t deserve to be degraded in such a way). Some Spanish priests and chronicle-writers, among which Cieza de León, Garcilaso de la Vega, Bernabe Cobo, Sarmiento de Gamboa, Pedro Pizarro have labeled the fortress as one “built by demons, evil spirits”.

Garcilaso de la Vega wrote about Sacsayhuamán:

“This fortress surpasses the constructions known as the seven wonders of the world. For in the case of a long broad wall like that of Babylon, or the colossus of Rhodes, or the pyramids of Egypt, or the other monuments, one can see clearly how they were executed. They did it by summoning an immense body of workers and accumulating more and more material day by day and year by year. They overcame all difficulties by employing human effort over a long period. But it is indeed beyond the power of imagination to understand now these Indians, unacquainted with devices, engines, and implements, could have cut, dressed, raised, and lowered great rocks, more like lumps of hills than building stones, and set them so exactly in their places. For this reason, and because the Indians were so familiar with demons, the work is attributed to enchantment.”

Some people believe, even today, that the structure was not constructed by the Incas, the ancestors of today’s Quechuans. Their fantasies revolve around extraterrestrials that could have arrived to our planet and either build the huge fortress or have taught the Incas how to do it. Writers like Erich Von Däniken have a multitude of theories around such places (like the Nazca lines in Peru and Tiahuanaco in Bolivia).

A simple analysis of the style of the construction, the materials used are considered to be proof enough by specialists that indeed, Sacsayhuamán was erected by the Incas.

Specialists argue about what the builders of this marvel had to do in order to cut , move and lift the stones in order to put them into the right places.

Some estimate the necessary working force for building Sacsayhuamán at around 20.000-30.000 thousand men. the necessary period to complete the work should have been around 60 years.

Specialists put the probable year of completion of Sacsayhuamán at 1508. Which means it was not finished long before Pizarro first reached Inca land (which happened in 1526, but did not implicate any conflicts between the Spaniards and the locals).

Interestingly, the initial structure (not the ruins we see today) was described by the Spaniards as having high “towers”.

Specialists say that Sacsayhuamán was more than 3 m higher that it is today. Above the large stone blocks lay smaller stones, probably the size for those that were used to build Machu Picchu, for example. The upper layer comprised of these smaller pieces of stone was demolished by the Spaniards who used those stones to build themselves homes and Catholic churches.

At the time the Spanish forces arrive to this part of the Tahuantinsuyo, none of the Incas seemed to know how the structure was built.

Some specialists conclude that the theoretical year of completion of 1508 was in fact the year when the Incas placed the smaller stone layer on top of the bigger blocks. This is why some doubt that the Incas placed the big stones.

The Incas didn’t use wheeled vehicles (such as chariots) and to the Spaniards they seemed technically behind.

Visiting Sacsayhuamán

 

You can get to Sacsayhuamán by one of the 2 roads that lead there: one starts from the old neighbourhood of San Cristobál and the other one from Avenida Collasuyo.

The San Cristobál has 1,5 kms, while the Avenida Collasuyo one 4 km.

Other, less frequented paths can get you there on foot, these are the Sapantiana (which starts at the Choquechaca street), has a length of 1 km, there another one from the San Blas district, which reaches the Kusilluyog temple, through an old Inca road (which connects with Collasuyo).

You can walk to Sacsayhuamán or rent a bicycle, it’s not so far.

Blog Category: 

20 Things to do in Peru

Things to do in Peru

20 Phenomenal Things to do While Visiting Peru

The country of Peru is quite diverse and visitors will find themselves amongst mountains in one area and on the shore of the ocean in another.  The one thing that will not change throughout the country is the amount of activities that are available for everyone.

Here are 20 phenomenal things to do while visiting Peru:

1.    Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world and everyone will want to have this attraction on their must-see list for their visit.  This Inca city was lost and unknown for many years before being rediscovered back in 1911.  The climb to the ruins can be a little difficult as the pathways are narrow, but the first glimpse of the ruins makes that climb worthwhile.  

2.    Cusco

Cusco is the heart of the country, just like it was at the center of the Inca Empire.  There are a few museums, amazing architecture, and multiple ruins to see everywhere.  One destination that everyone must go to is the Cusco Market, because there is so much available in this humongous space.  

3.    Lima

Lima is the capital of Peru and there is a long list of amazing sights that everyone must see.  However, the best part of this city is the nightlife and the Parque de la Reserve, which is a water fountain park that is illuminated with laser shows at night.  

4.    Ollantaytambo

This is another Inca ruin that people must see while they are in Peru.  This one is quite close to Machu Picchu, so it is possible to combine them into one trip.  These ruins are in the place where the Incas had their biggest stronghold after the Spanish invasion and it still looks just as strong.  

5.    Colca Canyon

This is South America’s version of the Grand Canyon and it is within the top three tourist destinations in the country.  The depth of this canyon reaches down 3,270 meters and people will once again be able to see the infamous Andean condor when they visit, thanks to all the preservation efforts that have taken place over the years. 

6.    Pisac

Pisac is in the Sacred Valley and many people begin their day exploring the Inca ruins throughout the town.  After that, everyone heads to the large market to shop for both food and souvenirs.  

7.    Nazca Lines

The Nazca Lines are ancient geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert.  They can be difficult to see unless a person is up in a plane, however, some of them can be seen when standing on the surrounding foothills.  

8.    Huacachina Oasis

This oasis may be small, but most people feel like they are in the Sahara when they are visiting there.  The oasis is the perfect destination for people who want to attempt to go sandboarding or dune buggy riding.  

9.    Inca Trail

The Inca Trail follows the same path that the Inca used when they traveled to enter the citadel.  It takes approximately four days to walk the trail completely, plus everyone needs to have a ticket and be with a tour company to do it.  Many of the people that trek along this path are headed to Machu Picchu.  

10.    Tipon

A ritual water garden is the best description for this beautiful and amazing sight in Peru.  The twelve terraces are below a water temple that then channels the water down and through the terraces.  Tipon might not be a well-known Inca site, but people should take advantage of that fact as they are visiting.  The tranquility and serenity of the flowing water can be a wonderful and meditating experience for many.  

11.    Floating Islands of Lake Titcaca

Lake Titicaca is one of the most navigable lakes in the world at 3,812 meters above sea level.  It is also where the indigenous Uros people live on artificial islands that they built out of local reeds.  

12.    Taquile Island

This island is another one that can be found on Lake Titicaca and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Male knitters live on this island with none of the comforts of home like electricity or running water.  They live traditionally like the Aymaras did and anyone who visits will feel as if they stepped back in time.  Another unique feature on this island is that no cars are allowed.  

13.    Amazon Rainforest

The entire Amazon Rainforest is not in Peru, but the upper regions are.  Everyone should take some time to explore the Amazon River to see if they can catch a glimpse of the pink dolphins or the elusive tapirs that call that region their home.  

14.    Maras Salt Mines

The Maras Salt Mines have been around just as long as the Inca people and they are quite the sight to see.  Salt has been taken from the salt evaporation ponds for thousands of years, which means that these mines have been around longer than even Machu Picchu.  

15.    Moray

The ancient Inca site of Moray is not too far from the Maras Salt Mines.  The circular ruins have multiple levels and each one has a different micro-climate from the others.  Archeologists that have worked in the area believe that these ruins were used for a ritual garden or agricultural laboratory in the past.  

16.    Andean Explorer

The Andean Explorer takes passengers from Cusco to Puno in approximately ten hours.  It is one of the ten amazing train journeys that are available in Peru and those journeys are the best way to see and capture the breathtaking beauty of the countryside.  

17.    Visit the Beach

Remember, there is more than mountains and valleys in the country of Peru.  The shoreline has amazing beaches where visitors can sit down on the sand and relax, before catching some waves and surfing.  One of the best beaches in the country is Mancora Beach.  

18.    Explore Chan Chan

Chan Chan is the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and it was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1986.  Chan Chan encompasses approximately twenty kilometers of space in one of the most arid sections of the country.  

19.    Visit Kuelap

This ancient city in Northern Peru dates back to the 6th century.  The four hundred buildings are surrounded by a large stone wall that climbs nineteen meters in the air.  Visitors can learn a lot about the Chachapoyas culture, as they are the people who lived in the area when this was built.  

20.    Hike up Rainbow Mountain

Rainbow Mountain sounds like such a beautiful destination and people will find it nestled in the mountains of Ausangate.  Anyone who hikes this mountain will find themselves rewarded with views from the summit as well as sightings of the abundant alpine wildlife.  

Visitors could easily spend a month or more exploring the country of Peru.  After all, Peru is filled with history, ruins, nature, and much more, so no one will ever be able to say that they are bored when they are there.  Instead, people will become intrigued with what they are seeing and experiencing, which will encourage them to delve deeper into what is available in this magnificent country.  

 

Blog Category: