Sunday, December 29, 2019

Cusco Declined + Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco

Easter Week 2011 we spent a week in Cusco, and loved every minute of it. This time, we returned to stay on the same street for 5 nights, and were glad when it was time to leave.

In 2011, I had expected Cusco to be touristy, but found that Cusco had a vibrant life of its own. This time, the touristy part of Cusco is so overwhelming, it is hard for me to appreciate Cusco on its own. Maybe it is because our location is too "good;" behind the Cathedral, down from San Blas, right around the corner from the wall of the 12-corned stone. We were constantly having ambulatory peddlers in our face, selling trinkets, paintings, massages, paintings, shoe shine, carved gourds... It's really sad to see Cusco allowing herself to become so sordid.

By dumb luck, we spent much time away from town, working on scoring attractions on our combo ticket (Boleto Turistico).

  • Took the bus to Tambomachay, walked to Puka Pukara, down to the Inca canal, Temple of the Moon, and Q'enqo, scoring a couple of miradors on the way back down to center.
  • Day trip to Pisac, underwhelming Sunday market, outstanding site.  We walked up on the upper route and returned on the lower route.
  • Bused to the church in Tipon.  Took the Camino Inca up to the site, very beautiful site.  Taxied down to the main road, caught a bus to Pikillacta, another vast and mind blogging Wari site, which is the case of all Wari sites we have encountered.
  • On the last day, we finally made it to Saksayhuaman.  There is nothing more impressive than the megalith walls.  I could hardly drag John away.  We spent a whole morning there.  
  • All the museums on the combo ticket are worthless.  The one that might potentially be good, Regional History Museum, was closed for renovation.  Such is our luck.
  • We also went to the song and dance that is also on the ticket.  We normally scorn song and dance put on for solely for tourists.  This one had a dozen musicians and a dozen dancers, did not seem cheazy.  I actually learned that the tradition is for dancers to sing at the same time.
We wore ourselves out and the peddlers worn us down.

On our first full day, we caught a local bus, 2 soles, the blue and white one, signed SeƱor del Huerto, from Recoleta up to Tambomachay, one of the sites covered by the Boleto Turistico (BT). There is a small fountain, a few terraces, a tricke of a canal, and not many tourists.
Tambomachay, Cusco

Then a short walk back towards Cusco to Puka Pukara, another BT site and once a fortress.
Puka Pukara, Cusco

Puka Pukara, Cusco

The fortress was small and frankly not that interesting so after a short visit we set off cross country following the Rio Cachimayo downhill towards Cusco. Here's a shot of Puka Pukara from the trail below.
Puka Pukara, Cusco

An ominous sign at the beginning of the trail: peligro = danger.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

But the only danger seems to be these calmly grazing sheep.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

At first the river was a small stream running through eucalyptus groves and not-recently-tilled fields. However, the riverbank was shored up in places by stones.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

The giant hummingbird was spotted.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

The stream turns turned into a proper canal.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

A natural bridge.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

The trail continued along the canal. We crossed the Inca Road and were shortly at Inkilltambo Archaeological Site, newly renovated with free admission. You know you're there when you these modest water works.
Inkilltambo - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Inkilltambo - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Some cool Incan shrines cut into the rocks.
Inkilltambo - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Lunch spot view over the Inkilltambo Site.
Inkilltambo - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

After lunch we walked directly west and up to the ridge on the opposite hill to the Inca Road - it's like a highway! - in the direction of the Temple of the Moon, another free, lesser known Ican site in walking distance of Cusco. Below: View back to Inkilltambo.
Inkilltambo - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Inca Road.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru.

A view from the Inca Road down the valley towards to the Cusco Airport.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

Sun-Ling catches me in action; sort of.
Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

The big rock outcrop in the distance is the Temple of the Moon. Look to the left and see a big fissure that has split the rock in two.
Temple of the Moon - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

At one time you could scramble through the fissure, but now it's blocked.
Temple of the Moon - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

And the view from the far side.
Temple of the Moon - Walking from Tambomachay to Cusco, Peru

From here it's a short walk to Q'enqo, a site requiring the Boleto Turistico. It's the ruins of an Incan ceremonial site with small amphitheater facing a monolith in the shape of a puma, and a labyrinth of passages and altars.
Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

View of Q'enqo from below.
Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

After a short break we walk past Chico Q'enqo, where we see a Shamanistic ceremony, and then plunge down through the San Blas neighborhood to our Airbnb apartment.
Q'enqo Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Shaman (seated right) and customer (seated left).
Shaman (right) and Customer (left) - Q'enqo Chico Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Huge stones.
Q'enqo Chico Archaeological Site - Cusco, Peru

Views towards Plaza de Armas.
Cusco,  Peru

Cusco,  Peru

Out for a walk after dinner, we pass the famous polygonal Incan stone walls near our apartment, and happen upon on a Critical Mass bike ride on the Plaza de Armas.
Cusco,  Peru

Just before the Critical Mass ride gets going: 2 x 15-second videos.
Critical Mass Bike Ride - Plaza de Armas - Cusco,  Peru

Critical Mass Bike Ride - Plaza de Armas - Cusco,  Peru

Critical Mass Bike Ride - Plaza de Armas - Cusco,  Peru

The Plaza de Armas lit up for Christmas.
Plaza de Armas Under the Waxing Crescent Moon - Cusco,  Peru





Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Amazing Huchuy Qosqo

On our final full day in Urubamba "we bused to Lamay and walked up to Huchuy Qosqo, something we had originally ruled out during planning due to 800m ascend at altitude. I barely survived." Says Sun-Ling.

Huchuy Qosqo is an Ican Archaeological Site up on the west side of the Sacred Valley above Calca and Lamay. And "by foot" is just about the only way to get to Huchuy Qosqo; horse back and possibly motorcycle are the others. There are more than several walking routes to reach to Huchuy Qosqo, all tough. We chose to walk up from Lamay. It's an 800 meter elevation gain pretty much straight up as you'll see in the photos.

Not included on the Boleto Turisitco, Huchuy Qosqo admission is 7 soles. Once up top at the site, the views are tremendous across the Sacred Valley and the terraces can be described as more than mesmerizing or the gift that keeps on giving.

Walking to the van depot. Lots of motos.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

These ladies (and man) are waiting for transport at the Uruillos bus stop.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

We get off the van in Lamay and cross the new bridge with a view of old bridge and some construction.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

We make the left turn to head up the path which goes up the cliffs to the left and then wraps into the ravine that goes to the top. The distance on foot is not 10 km; it's a lot less.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Only an hour later we take our 2nd short break. It's very hot in the sun. There is zero shade. The views are fantastic.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

A woman goes by on a horse, we never see her again.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Another break less than 30 minutes later. We are suffering.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Then clouds are starting to build = Cooler. Very good. We can see the Lamay bridge way down below.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

The steepest section is in the ravine.
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

After 3 hours we're through the ravine and just below the site. The bridge we crossed is way below. How about those switchbacks?
Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Walking from Lamay to Huchuy Qosqo, Peru

Woohoo! 3hrs and 20 mins and we've paid our 7 soles admission and are looking for a lunch spot.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Lunch spot view.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

The so-called fountain.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Some partially and mostly reconstructed buildings.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Terraces. First, a 20-second video.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Link, click here.

Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Amazing Terraces - Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Spot a mesmerized SL at far right.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

A bit of light rain. We put on our jackets.
Huchuy Qosqo Archaeological Site -  Cusco, Peru

We walked up the Inca Road towards the mirador before heading back down to Lamay. Great views up and down the Sacred Valley.
Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Looking towards Calca. There is a man plowing with a team of oxen below. We will walk right by him in a few minutes.
Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Going down through the ravine is much easier than going up. There are some locals ahead of us.
Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru

Walking down from Huchuy Qosqo to  Lamay, Sacred Valley, Peru


Playa del Carmen, Mexico

From Aguascalientes, there is a very convenient direct flight to Cancun.  Since the wedding is at a private beach south of Playa del Carmen,...