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mistybleu Machu Picchu - A travel report by Amanda
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Machu Picchu,  Peru - flag Peru -  Cusco
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mistybleu's travel reports

The Morning Glory of Machu Picchu

  38 votes
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High in the ANDEAN MOUNTAIN RANGE, the patchwork fields of CUSCO extends - the first sight of an area which has intrigued me for years. My destination is the Old Peak - Machu Picchu. This report has won a travel publishing contest on!

The Old Peak - Machu Picchu
The Old Peak - Machu Picchu
The Andean life is tough and can be seen in the faces of its people; they are poor and they make their living from either farming or tourism. As a result of the poverty (after school) children can be seen selling postcards, CDs, shining shoes or offering to have their pictures taken, in traditional dress, with a llama or lamb; any way to make some money. They have the tourist police to protect foreigners, so that you don’t feel too harassed, once approached a whistle is blown and the local scurries off.

Flying into Cusco is strange, as it doesn’t feel like the plane has descended enough to be touching down on the tarmac and that’s because you are still 11,500ft above sea level. It is at this point you start to slow down, a simple task of walking up 5 or 6 steps feels like you’re climbing a mountain and your body starts reacting in ways you don’t quite understand.

It is said that 9 out of 10 people suffer with altitude sickness; that starts with difficulty breathing, headaches, nausea and/or vomiting. The best way to combat this is to spend a day in the area to acclimatise, eat regularly (even when you’re not hungry!) and drink plenty of water. The locals have a remedy for dealing with altitude sickness, they use the leaves of the coca plant to make tea (this is the natural form of cocaine). I was told that it gives you a buzz when drank, but it neither gave me a buzz nor did it cure my symptoms. I much preferred the tried-tested method of taking maximum strength painkillers.

If cost is a factor, it is possible to purchase train tickets for MACHU PICCHU online before arriving ( and with a little effort, organise a trip for around $90 once there. Trains start at 06.00am and it takes 3¼ hours. There is something charming about MACHU PICCHU, which was built by the INCA PACHACUTI; the founding father of the Inca Empire in the 15th and 16th Century.

Favourite spots:
The Old Peak - Machu Picchu
The Old Peak - Machu Picchu
As the train zigzags (or switchback turns) up the mountains, you pass many coca fields; it snakes its way beside the URUBAMBA RIVER that starts as trickles, then keeps on building until it turns into a main tributary of the AMAZON RIVER further down stream.

Machu Picchu was rediscovered by HIRAM BINGHAM in 1911, an American historian turned explorer. It was the best kept ancient Incas ruins, owing to its isolation, as it was never found by the Spanish Conquistadores to loot or destroy. It was considered a place of Inca worshipped to either: celestial bodies, mountains, lightning, rocks, anything really; in fact, Pachacuti thought this area had an abundance of huaca or spiritual power.

Initially it was thought 75% of the human remains found were female and that it was a refuge for Virgins of the Sun but this has now been refuted.

What's really great:
Urubamba Canyon
Urubamba Canyon
Bingham in THE LOST CITY OF THE INCAS wrote “I had entered the marvellous canyon of the Urubamba below the INCA FORTRESS. Here the river escapes from the cold plateau by tearing its way through gigantic mountains of granite. The road runs through a land of matchless charm. It has the majestic grandeur of the Canadian Rockies.” Above all, there is the fascination of finding here and there under swaying vines or perched on top of a beetling crag, the rugged masonry of a bygone race and of trying to understand the bewildering romance of the ancient builders who, ages ago, sought refuge in a region which appears to have been expressly designed by nature as a sanctuary for the oppressed, a place where they might fearlessly and patiently give expression to their passion for walls of enduring beauty.” This explains the magic and can be seen as part of the 3/5 day INCA TRAIL; on the final day, at dawn, when the first rays of the sun appears on the mountains, Machu Picchu comes alive.

Cusco Cathedral
Cusco Cathedral
No trip Peru is complete without seeing Cusco, which is consider the historic heart of the Inca civilisation and dates back to 1200AD. It is wonderful to understand some of the ancient religious practices and wander through the streets and network of palaces and temples. It’s quite ironic, that the Spanish settlers had to build their churches on the foundation of the Inca Temples (so strong were these foundations).

Also, as part of the VALLEY OF RUINS, there are many sites to visit including: SACSAYHUAMAN (a megalithic fortress and a great example of Inca architectural skill); QENKO, (a large complex, who’s name means labyrinth); the INCA SHRINE (which is dedicated to the worship of mother earth); PUCA PURARA, TAMB MACHAY, OLLANATAYTAMBO and PISAC (where a colourful market is held on Saturdays).

Casa Andina, Puno
Casa Andina, Puno
After checking out websites, I decided not to pre-booked any accommodation in Cusco, when I arrived I bargained with the local hotel representatives for the best price, if you are fairly easy going you can get accommodation quite cheaply. They will also drop you to the hotels you’ve chosen, so you can view the rooms before agreeing to stay there.

I eventually stayed in a 2-star hotel that was alright. However in Puno, I stayed in Casa Andina (, this was supposedly 2-star, but the hotel was really nice. They tried to make our stay memorable and went out of their way to please us. It was also very cheap (around £25 per family room) with buffet breakfast and free internet access. They also have sites in Lima and Cusco and if I ever returned to Peru I would gladly stay there again.

Backpacker II
Backpacker II
There is a great pub in Cusco called the CROSS KEYS, which is owned by an Englishman. It has are really nice feel to the place and if necessary, they can show sports on TV. The staff and fellow travellers were very friendly.

Also if you have time to kill, one bar on the square shows movies; for the price of one drink you can stay there all afternoon.

Portal Confiurías 233, 2do. Piso, Plaza de Armas. Tel: 51 84 233865

Loreto 115, 2do. Piso, Plaza de Armas. Tel: 51 84 246204 (

Pan Pipers
Pan Pipers
Around PLAZA DE ARMAS, the main square, there were many bars and restaurants; and young people are hired to encourage patronage, to which they are paid a commission; resulting in them being zealous for you to dine in their restaurant. To put them off, I would say I’ve already eaten, maybe tomorrow, the following day the same person would come up to me and say ‘you promised to eat in my restaurant; tell them Sam sent you’.

Unfortunately, the names of the restaurants have merged, however the INZAS and the one next door to the CROSS KEYS were pleasant. It was good value for money (a buffet service), live music and had great views of the square below.

I didn’t find the food really tasty in Cusco, but to be fair, I was suffering from altitude sickness and was nauseous almost all the time. I tried the ALPACA burger, which tasted surprisingly much like beef, but didn’t try any other local specialties like 'CUY' (guinea pig), or 'LECHON' (roasted suckling pig).

Other recommendations:
The island of Taquile
The island of Taquile
Drive down to PUNO either by coach or train to spend the day on LAKE TITICACA and see the famous floating reed islands including UROS and the reed boats.

Also visit TAQUILE; this island is unique as locals have to agree to wear traditional clothes and abide by the governing laws separate from Peru and in order to live there, and once a week they hold a town meeting in the main square to discuss any problems which have arisen. There are no vehicles so the climb from the boat is strenuous but yet a nice walk. The way down is via a 100 stepped path to the jetty. While descending, it is customary to find the locals carrying stuff up to their houses; for example, a front door, as everything they need has to be carried up these steps.

Machu Picchu a very popular destination and I found lots of websites with general information, the official site at: was helpful, also I use the guide book ‘Insight to South American’.

Published on Monday December 27th, 2004

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Fri, Apr 14 2006 - 08:05 PM rating by tokyomike

"the ancient builders who, ages ago, sought refuge in a region which appears to have been expressly designed by nature as a sanctuary for the oppressed" -- Wow, very cool! I have been away from this site for a while -- and it was nice to see your comment on my latest report. Thank you for that. The nice thing about comments is that it inspires me to start exploring the site again, and what a find with this report! Loads of great photos and useful information, and well written the comments like the one I quoted (love that!) all over. In fact, Machu Picchu is a destination that I also have in my "some day for sure" category, so thanks for pushing me one step closer to the airport.

Sun, Oct 23 2005 - 03:42 PM rating by toribio

For me this is best of reports

Tue, Jan 18 2005 - 10:21 PM rating by ardelia

This is a very informative report you've given us all. It has always been my dream to go visit Machu Pichu and the more I read about this,the more I feel like going..really..Thanks Manda


Mon, Jan 17 2005 - 03:24 PM rating by picasso

Great report Amanda,i was Pleased to read it and enjoyed while I was reading it a lot.
Excellent photography accompanied this wonderful report
And definitely you was given us a lot of info as well.
5 thumbs up and many + + + + +

Mon, Jan 10 2005 - 11:08 AM rating by gloriajames

fab report! deftly a 5* !!

Sat, Jan 08 2005 - 08:04 PM rating by madness

very nice pictures

Mon, Jan 03 2005 - 11:47 AM rating by bear495

What a wonderful report... and about one of my favorite locations. Great job, Amanda!


Sat, Jan 01 2005 - 09:04 PM rating by inkolor

I just came back from Cusco and certanly you're right. I'm glad you enjoyed visiting my vountry.

Fri, Dec 31 2004 - 12:52 AM rating by fieryfox

I really enjoyed reading your report Amanda. I've a friend from Cusco and I hope that I would be able to visit this magnificent gem of the highlands. Thanks for sharing this experience, it really makes me want to go there .. LOL.

Wed, Dec 29 2004 - 12:04 PM rating by esfahani


Wed, Dec 29 2004 - 10:59 AM rating by britman

Wonderful report - a treat to read and beautifully illustrated - well worth ***** Great work...yet again!

Wed, Dec 29 2004 - 02:43 AM rating by jenny2

Another excellent report, it was very interesting.
God bless, Jenny

Tue, Dec 28 2004 - 07:18 AM rating by magsalex

Another excellent report. Certainly worth a visit.

Tue, Dec 28 2004 - 12:44 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report and very well written

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