Peru Vacation
April 2003


In case (like me before the trip) you don't know where Peru is....



Machu Picchu

The Incan city of Machu Picchu is located high (8,000 ft) in the Andes Mountains, 43 miles northwest of Cuzco.  It is on the top of a ridge, hiding it from the Urabamba gorge below. The ridge is between a block of highland and the massive Huaynac Picchu, around which the Urubamba River takes a sharp bend.  

The area in and around Machu Picchu is called the Cloud Forest.  You can see from the pictures how it got this name.

The city was hidden from civilization for around 400 years.  It was deserted around the 1500s and not found again in 1911 by an explorer from Yale named Hiram Bingham.  Word is that he was in the area looking for a different series of ruins.  He met some local indegenious folks that took him to this site.  There were a few indigenous families that lived near Machu Picchu at the time.

I asked our tour guide and his belief is that there was an Incan Civil War at the site which caused it to be deserted.

Machu Picchu (which means "manly peak") was most likely a royal estate and religious retreat. It was built between 1460 and 1470 AD by Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, an Incan ruler.  After Pachacutiís death, Machu Picchu became the property of his allus, or kinship group, which was responsible for itís maintenance, administration, and any new construction.


View of Machu Picchu with Wayna Picchu in background


At 8:16am we climbed Wayna Pichu to get a better view of Machu Picchu...
View of Machu Picchu from the top of Wayna Picchu


Me on top of Wayna in the Cloud Forest (Machu Picchu in background)


My buddy Tony at Wayna


Alpaca at Machu Picchu (great for dinner)

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Machu Picchu

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On our hike down the mountain

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The Andes Mountains from the Train from Machu Picchu


City of Agua Calliente at the bottom of Machu Picchu

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Cuzco is surrounded by impressive archeological remains such as the citadel of Machu Picchu, the Fortress of Sacsayhuaman, the Ollantaytambo compound and picturesque towns such as Pisaq, Calca and Yucay, which still preserve the traditions of their ancestors.

Other places to explore in this intriguing city include the Plaza de Armas. In Inca times it was not only the exact center of the empire but was twice as large as it is now.

El Balcon Hotel in Cusco


Around Cuzco

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DSCN8177.JPG (143558 bytes) you can see the futbol (soccer) stadium in Cuzco


Fortress of Sacsayhuaman (probably fell in a Civil Wary)


The Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, is actually the Vilcanota/Urubamba River valley. It is located about 10 miles north of Cusco, and extends northwest through Pisac and Ollantaytambo. This entire region, highlighted by Cusco, was the heart of the Inca civilization from the 14th to the 15th centuries.


The Sacred Valley from the Hotel
My hotel room was in the attic and had the best view of the ruins.

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Salt Mines (pans)
There was no salt on these during our trip.  We are told that during the salt season
these are completely white and look like they are covered in snow.


Puerto Maldonado (Rain Forest)

Gold panning on the Tampobamba and Madre de Dios rivers, and the latex boom at the end of the past century, determined the foundation of the city of Puerto Maldonado., Today, Madre de Dios, the old Inca Antisuyo, is still what It has been -for centuries- for all adventure lovers: a virgin and frontier land full of mysteries.

Due to the fact that Its virgin forest covers 98% of the territory, Madre de Dios has the most varied bio-diversity of the world.

Puerto Maldonado right before sundown (taken from the boat)


The Lost Lagoon in Puerto Maldonado

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Madre De Dios River

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13K hike

DSCN8303.JPG (141904 bytes) One of many wooden bridges over the swamp


Puerto Maldonado - view from the tree house

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DSCN8269.JPG (138823 bytes) Do NOT look down.



DSCN8261.JPG (137783 bytes) This is sideways...We got water from the trees.

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Giant Ants living in a tree.  Our guide was bitten before and had
a fever for 2 weeks....

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Giant Snails (not good to eat as too tough)

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Tarantula in the Jungle

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Monkey Island
Island right across the river from our Lodge.  
The island is very small (1KM by 500M).  
About 35 monkeys live there, of which we saw about 20.  They are pretty much domesticated.
Our guide yells out "platanos" and they come down from the trees for dinner.

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Our guide handing a banana to a squirrel monkey (very small monkey).

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DSCN8229.JPG (139648 bytes) Monkey reaching down for a platano


Cappuccino Monkey

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Karamundu that also lives on the island.  Very dangerous animal.

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The Lizard I shared my shower with.

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The fiercest animal in the jungle
This puppy actually belongs to an indigenous family that lives 20min from our lodge.

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Kicking Back in my hammock in my cabin
This is the only safe place from beetles.

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A few of the British girls we met on the trip.

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In case you are wondering why there aren't more picture of's because Lima is a strange city.  Most of it is very dirty and poor.  There are just a few pockets of nice buildings and restaurants (all surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by armed guards at night).

Main City Square

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Presidential Palace

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My hotel room (last night)
kitchen is to the back and right.  Bedroom is next room to the right.
Great deal for only $40!!!!!

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View from the hotel

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Cathedral in Lima

DSCN8025.JPG (167672 bytes) Skeletons at San Francisco Catacombs


Miraflores Ruins in Lima

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DSCN8358.JPG (135176 bytes)  Sacrifice Victim at Miraflores (actual remains)

DSCN8351.JPG (124174 bytes)  Guinea Pig (Cuy), must be ordered for dinner 24 hours in advance.

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The remains of Francisco Pizarro in Lima

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In 1530 Francisco Pizarro arrived with only 162 men and proceeded to dominate the Incas in military encounters due to the advantages of steel weapons, armor, and horses. Pizarro and his forces happened to arrive at a time when there was turmoil,epidemic disease, and civil war among the Inca with no dominating ruler. Pizarro deceived and captured the current Inca ruler named Atahualpa and demanded a huge ransom for his release. The Spanish after all had gone there not to settle or explore but to find gold and riches. After a room full of gold and silver was delivered to Pizarro, Atahualpa was still not released and was eventually executed. The Spanish still feared his potential leadership of the Inca people (after all Inca rulers were worshiped like gods). Pizarro went on to defeat the Inca army which was far larger in number but technologically inferior, and installed a new ruler under his own supervision. Eventually the Spanish quarreled amongst themselves and Pizarro's forces defeated his biggest competitor named Almagro and killed him. Later Almagro's family assassinated Pizarro in revenge.