Travel Journal

Just Being a tourist......

(Tuesday 22 September 2015) by Karen O'Shea
Ok now for the tourist bits.

Machu Picchu

A little background first. The lost city of Machu Picchu meaning Old mountain was completely self contained, surrounded by agricultural terraces sufficient to feed the population and watered by natural springs. The ruins now consist of palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms (for crops) and some 150 houses. The ruins were only discovered in 1911 by an explorer Hiram Bingham who was actually looking for another lost city. ok enough of the historical information...this is how i saw it.B-)

In order to get to Machu Picchu you can either hike the Inca trail, which is 82 km's over 4 days over mountains or get a train through the mountains. I did the latter as I even struggled with Croagh Patrick..haha. The train itself was fantastic; it had sky lights so you could see out the roof up into the mountains.:-):-) Must get on to Ionraid Eireann....lol

When I booked this tour, Machu Picchu happened to be on it, it wasn't one of the main reasons for me choosing this one. But whow, I am glad I did. It was absolutely mind blowing. No picture or post card can really do it justice. To stand there in front of it, was truly breathtaking. I was too caught up with the views to really take in what the guide was explaining.:-)

What I did pick up on was that it was home to the Inca Empire. And the Inca Empire was bigger than the Roman Empire back in the day.
The ingenuity it took to build this lost city was unreal, everything was built with manual labour, and these folk sure were ahead of their time.

June 21st the summer solstice is a big day, just like newgrange and Stonehenge a ray of light passes through an altar and lights up the place. The Inca's worshipped mother earth. So the sun, moon and stars play a huge part.

Yeah Machu Picchu really was a major highlight for me. :-):-)


The Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo

These were part of the Inca Empire too. The sacred valley was ruins, like Machu Picchu but just on a much smaller and less spectacular way. Ollantaytambo was a fortress which was surrounded by enormous Inca terracing constructed on the side of a steep mountain. Again great ingenuity. But it didn't too anything for me as I already saw Machu Picchu the day before. It was Like going to Disney world Florida and then a local fun fair the next day!! I think had the days been reversed I would have found it more interesting.

The food and drink here in Peru has been really lovely. They do a corn beer, called chicha it was quite nice and refreshing. Guinea Pig is a real treat here apparently! I tried a little bit of it, but the presentation put me way off, A leg of GP arrived on my plate, foot and claws and all intact! And that was that8-O


The Amazon Jungle

Now this was one of the reasons I chose this tour. I was so looking forward to getting here and now the day had finally arrived. We took a flight from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado. PM is the base for heading into the Amazon on the Peruvian side. The majority of people in this town drive a scooter, as diesel is really expensive. It was full of shanty buildings, not really a tourist spot, just a base. I even spotted a Don Bosco launderette..who knew! :-? We then took a two hour boat trip up the river to get to our lodge which would be our home for the next few days. :-)

Our lodge was called Ecoamazonia lodge. I thought it would be really basic with little facilities. Boy was I wrong. The lodge I stayed in had hot water and a flushing toilet! Electricity was only available for a few hours in the eve and no internet connection. It was great being so away from the outside world!!:-p

The food was amazing here, we had a dish that consisted of rice, veg and chicken, wrapped in a banana leave with a little bow on top. All edible. They also had a bar here at this lodge would you believe.

Man was it hot. I couldn't get that song, feeling 'HOT HOT HOT' out of my head. 38 degrees and 70% humidity. Yeah that was pretty hot alright.

We did a few guided walks and it was just absolutely amazing. To finally be here made me a little teary eyed. I was no longer watching a documentary on the tv. This was for real alright.B-)B-)

Just to walk in the rainforest was truly amazing. To hear all the animals was just unreal. Got to see lots of monkeys, caiman which are like crocodiles, macaw parrots, big butterflies, dragon flies, frogs, glow flies, lots of other birds I can't even name. But it was just an amazing experience.
Also saw a triantula:-\. And I say ....I saw it very quickly..... so big and ugly. Apparently the lady can live up to 25 years and the male only 1, after they make baby spiders the female eats the male! Isn't nature something else? Throughout the walks I kept expecting David Attenborough to do a voice over :-).but this was real baby..:-)

Just to wake up in the morning to the sound of all the animals, and whow could they be loud. The sounds were like a meditation CD. I didn't feel frightened by any of the wildlife I saw, the way I looked at it was, I was on their turf!

Another thing that struck me about the Amazon, the amount of medicinal plants found here. Any illness that was mentioned to our guide he could tell us what plant could be used. Pretty amazing stuff and some of the tonics are sold in the local towns and markets, just in and old clear bottle, none of the commercial crap.

Also I wish I could have recorded some of the smells. There is a garlic tree which reminded me of when I take a walk down near the glass houses in paradise, it was just the exact same.:-)

Overall Machu Picchu and the Amazon, two major highlights of my travels. Bring on the next leg....(not of Guinea pig thank you very much...).
Take care folks and talk soon
karen x

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