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Across Peru in 10 days

The cities of Puno and Arequipa

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View Blissfully Wanderlost on ebmarnp's travel map.

We traveled from Cusco to the city of Puno, beside Lake Titicaca. The area lies 12500 feet above sea level, the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world, and is unique for the multiple native cultures which reside around the lake and on the islands within the lake.

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The land is arid and dry, but the views are amazing.

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Llama crossing!

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Following Puno, we traveled to Arequipa the second largest city in Peru and 4000 feet lower than Puno.

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This colonial city is famous for its buildings made from a pearly white volcanic rock called sillar.

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The city is ringed by three active volcanoes, all around 20,000 feet high, which provide a unique backdrop to the antique churches and scattered palm trees.

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We decided to visit the Santa Catalina Monastary, a convent which was founded in 1580. It wasn't open to the public until 1979, at which point the treasure trove of hundreds-of-year-old china, statues, paintings, and architecture was able to be admired by all.

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The nuns were well known for their baking, including pastries, muffins, and other sweet goodies. Kevin went looking for some.

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Dirty habits were washed in large ceramic jugs by the numerous servants.

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A dry wishing well in the kitchen!

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Despite numerous earthquakes the convent has been restored beautifully and provided amazing views of the city and sunset.

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Arequipa has provided us good food (Morrocan, Mexican, Italian, and French), great live rock music, and much needed rest and relaxation!

Posted by ebmarnp 16:39 Archived in Peru Tagged sunset church lake city Comments (2)

Cusco and the Sacred Valley

Navel of the world and surrounding archaeological treasures

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Cusco

A week ago we arrived in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Incan empire. With an elevation of 11,200 feet, Cusco (or Q'osco in Quechua) means "navel of the world." We spent the first few days acclimating and bumming around the Plaza de Armas, the central square.

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On Wednesday, January 11 we took a guided city tour and saw the following sites:

La Catedral

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Q'oricancha

An Incan temple that the Spaniards quarried and used as the foundation for a Dominican monastery and church.

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Notice the three levels of stones: pre-Incan, Incan, and Spanish colonial. The Incan engineering has proven to be superior in sustaining the numerous earthquakes that have rocked this town in the last 500 years!

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Saqsayhuaman

Pronounced "Sexy Woman," this is the religious and ceremonial section of Cusco that was home the final battle between the conquistadors and the Incans in the 1530s. Some of these stones weigh nearly 200 tons. The Incan capital, Cusco, was originally shaped like a puma with Saqsayhuaman as the head.

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Quenqo

A nearby religious site devoted to Pachamama, "Mother Earth." This picture shows a sacrificial altar in a cave. Usually, black llamas were sacrificed because their color retained more heat from the sun and thus they were holier.

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Puca Pucara

A pre-Incan guard tower used by the Incas for its strategic vantage point.

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Tambomachay

A site used for water rites and worship of the water deity.

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The Sacred Valley

Thursday was spent on a day long tour of the Sacred Valley, the area leading up to Machu Picchu. The following pictures show our enjoyment of the local culture, markets, vistas and the native corn-based beer, chicha!

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Pisac

A mainly agricultural site (notice the terrace steps used for growing corn and other staples) that also houses thousands of tombs in the mountain side.

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Ollantaytambo

Easily the second greatest archaeological site for the Incas (from our perspective) due to its beautiful placement, temples, fountains, granaries and huge images carved in the rock that dot the hillside. Some 300 distinct ruins surround the city.

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Notice the face of the deity carved in the rock, best seen from the temple. His "back" was the main granary.

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Check out the wind blowing from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu at the temple of the sun of Ollantaytambo here!

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Chinchero

Our final stop of the day, an agricultural town with some amazing views of the surrounding glaciers.

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This tour, and the experiences we had, easily made it one of the best days of entire trip. Each site was more magnificent than the one before, and prepared us for our voyage to Machu Picchu!

Posted by kevindhodges 16:42 Archived in Peru Tagged beer sunset fountains ruins market vista inca Comments (3)

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