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Traveling around Peru

My trip through the Nazca Lines, Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu

Of course Peru has been on our bucket list for quite some time. At long last, just before Easter, we found the free time that we needed and we made the trip. After landing in Lima in the middle of the night, we stayed at the hotel right there in the airport. That was quite convenient.
Early the following morning we left the big city behind and traveled for a few hours south to the pretty little coastal town of Pisco. As we left the Lima area, the color of the sky changed from gray to crystal clear blue. When we arrived at the Pisco airport, we got on a brand new, very comfortable Cessna 12-seater. The flight over the desert on the way to Nazca was interesting because the brown of the desert was punctuated by brilliantly green, fertile river valleys. On our left the Andes rose up into the sky, and on our right the Pacific Ocean stretched to the far horizon.
The Nazca Lines themselves are huge. They are quite amazing. There are hundreds of these puzzling drawings and they stretch for miles and miles across the desert floor. It wasn`t until Peruvian commercial airline pilots flying on the Lima-Arequipa route caught sight of these incredible figures that anyone even knew that they existed. This was less than a hundred years ago, at the dawn of the age of commercial aviation. I asked myself: For what possible reason were they made? Why would a group of people expend so much time and energy making drawings that no one could see?
After seeing the Nazca lines from up in the sky, our plane landed in Pisco. We returned to Lima and caught the late afternoon flight to the Lake Titicaca area. We actually landed at the Juliaca airport which is less than an hour’s drive from the lakeshore town of Puno. That was where our hotel was located. I enjoyed Puno a lot. It is quaint and picturesque and unlike any other place I have ever visited. The people who live there are somewhat reserved, but very friendly. After the sun sets it gets chilly fast because the elevation is about 12,000 ft. It isn`t called The Highest Navigable Lake in the World for nothing. A lot of the glacier covered peaks in Colorado, USA, aren’t that high.
Bright and early the following morning we jumped into a boat for a tour around the islands that are out in the middle of the Lake. My favorite island was definitely Taquile because there is a big hill in the center of the island. We managed to climb up to the top of it along the rocky, winding trail. From the summit the stark beauty of the great 360 degree view was out of this world. The Floating Islands of the Uros were also a very, very interesting place. But of course, there were no hills made out of straw that you could climb up. When we returned to Puno in the evening, we found a great little restaurant that served local lake trout that were absolutely delicious.
Our final destination in Peru, the so-called cherry on top of the ice cream sundae, was to be world famous Machu Picchu. I am glad that we saved it for last. To save time we flew from Juliaca to Cusco. Cusco is the Gateway to Machu Picchu, but we didn’t stay there long. That is because we had always heard how cool it was to see the sunrise over Machu Picchu. To make this a possibility we left Cusco quickly and set out for Machu Picchu. The train station where the paved road ends and where you have to start traveling by train is in a town called Ollantaytambo. Our train left the station in the evening, so we didn’t see a whole lot of the sights along the railroad track which are said to be amazing. (We figured we could get a good look at everything along the way by returning the next day during daylight hours.) We had a hotel reserved for the night in the steamy little jungle town of Aguas Calientes which is at the base of the mountain where Machu Picchu is found. From Aguas Calientes you either have to climb up or ride the bus up over a series of switch-backs until you reach the ruins that are located high up on a saddle between two mountains. Although we stayed up pretty late because we were excited, we did manage to drag ourselves out of bed well before sunrise. We caught the first bus going up the mountain. It seemed cloudy, but we were hoping for the best. Machu Picchu itself is indescribable in the sense that any description or picture of it, no matter how pretty it is, is only a tiny little portion of the totality. It is like asking the three blind men to describe an elephant. The entire site is permeated by magic. The view in every direction is mind-blowing.
When the sun was just about to poke its golden head over the horizon, whatever mystical force that inhabits this place parted the clouds for us. Like the Incas of old, we were granted the privilege of saluting Inti, the Sun God, from Machu Picchu. It was so beautiful that I am sure the image of it is imprinted on the memory stick of my mind forever.

Posted by Michael Jones 16:53 Tagged travel peru lake machu picchu titicaca lines nazca Comments (0)

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