Friday, November 9, 2018

Palccoyo: la otra cordillera de colores que te sorprenderá en Cusco

Vinicunca o la Montaña de 7 colores no es la única montaña de colores que puedes visitar en Cusco.

A solo tres horas de la ciudad imperial, la cordillera de Palccoyo es un atractivo turístico que vale la pena explorar en tus próximas vacaciones, pues no te demandará mucho tiempo ni esfuerzo. La belleza de sus paisajes naturales son igual de sorprendentes que la tan famosa Montaña de Siete Colores.

Lo más recomendable para iniciar la travesía hacia Palccoyo, que se encuentra en la comunidad del mismo nombre, en el distrito de Checacupe, es contratar un tour desde el centro de Cusco. Los precios van desde S/145 por persona (incluye transporte, guiado, entradas y alimentación). En la página ytuqueplanes.com podrás encontrar más de una oferta.

También conocida como Cordillera de Colores o Arcoíris, Palccoyo  todavía no es tan concurrida por los viajeros, por lo que no tendrás problemas si quieres realizar un paseo tranquilo, que te conecte con la naturaleza sin interrupciones. La caminata es sencilla y no te tomará más de una hora (a paso ligero) llegar a las tres montañas de colores que esconde esta joya cusqueña.

Los 4900 m.s.n.m de este destino pondrán a prueba tu resistencia a la altura. Recuerda ir con ropa de abrigo, cortavientos y zapatillas de trekking. Es ideal que la mochila que lleves sea liviana. Empaca solo lo necesario como una botella de agua y snacks para el camino (caramelos de limón, frutos secos, entre otros). Además, debes tomar en cuenta que el sol puede aparecer con fuerza en cualquier momento de la ruta, por lo que un bloqueador será tu mejor aliado.

La aventura en Palccoyo

La cordillera de Palccoyo apunta a convertirse en el nuevo destino de moda, y sus caminos señalizados son de gran ayuda para todos los turistas. Aunque es un trayecto de fácil acceso, se recomienda realizar el trekking con un guía autorizado.

Durante la ruta hacia Palccoyo, un impresionante bosque de piedras atraerá toda tu atención. Aprovecha para sacar las mejores fotografías y mirar de cerca alpacas y llamas. Desde cada mirador que ofrece la ruta, tendrás la oportunidad de apreciar  el nevado Ausangate, la quinta montaña más alta del Perú.

Los tonos rojizos, verdes y amarillos de las montañas te dejarán sin palabras durante toda la travesía. Cabe destacar que este fenómeno, al igual que la Montaña de Siete Colores, en la provincia de Quispicanchi, se originó debido a la presencia de rocas sedimentarias en erosión.

Como detalla Iván Escalante, guía turístico que día a día lleva visitantes a esta maravilla, la cordillera de Palccoyo es un plan alternativo que tiene todo lo necesario para hacer de tu viaje una experiencia mágica y única en Cusco. ¿Qué esperas para conocerla?

FUENTE: elcomercio.pe

Machu Picchu y Vinicunca catalogados entre los paisajes más hermosos de América

La Asociación de Agencias de Viaje de Japón (JATA) incluyó a Machu Picchu, Vinicunca (Montaña de los Siete Colores) y el Lago Titicaca en su ranking de Los 30 paisajes más hermosos de América, informó PromPerú.

De acuerdo al artículo nipón, Machu Picchu resalta como un atractivo que no puede faltar entre las prioridades de los viajeros japoneses al visitar Sudamérica; mientras que Vinicunca resulta un destino ideal para los amantes de la naturaleza y el trekking.


Del mismo modo, el Lago Titicaca y sus islas flotantes brindan la posibilidad de conocer la historia y costumbres del lugar, rodeados por la serenidad y colorido sin igual que ofrece el lago navegable más alto del mundo.

Los 30 destinos compartidos por la JATA fueron elegidos sobre la base del voto de un comité especial de 165 expertos conformado por diversos proveedores, agencias de viaje y oficinas de turismo japonesas.

Es importante precisar que Japón es el principal emisor de turistas de Asia a Perú. Según el Perfil del Turista Extranjero 2017, elaborado por PromPerú, 70 % de turistas nipones permanece entre 4 y 7 noches en nuestro país, y realiza actividades culturales (97 %) y de naturaleza (60 %). Su gasto promedio es de US$ 1 848.

El dato:
La web japonesa Tabi Coffret también publicó un artículo mencionando a Perú titulado “Los tres paisajes más asombrosos de Sudamérica”, en los que incluyó a Machu Picchu y Las líneas de Nasca como destinos imperdibles para los turistas de Japón.

FUENTE: elcomercio.pe

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Why Lalibela, Ethiopia, Is the Next Machu Picchu

The pre-dawn world and I are not the best of friends. In fact, I’m not even sure we’re on speaking terms after a lifetime of missed early-morning hikes, runs, and yoga classes. So I was more surprised than anyone to find myself outside an Ethiopian church at 5 am on a Sunday, moved to tears by one of the most remarkable experiences of my life.

The town of Lalibela is worthy of far more international attention than it gets—it deserves to top our bucket lists and grace our travel magazine covers. Yet part of its charm lies in its mystifying lack of foreign visitors. Because it is not just a niche heritage site; it is as majestic and awe-inspiring as the Machu Picchus of the world.

Its history alone is fascinating. In the 12th century, the Christian King Lalibela ordered the building of a second Jerusalem on Ethiopian soil when the original was captured in a 1187 AD raid by a Muslim faction. The result of his vision is 11 interconnected churches carved into the rose-gold mountain rocks and dug into the ground by hand—an extraordinary feat with or without the angels that, legend has it, lent a hand. These churches are perfectly preserved today, both delicate and monumental, impossible to detect at a distace but utterly majestic up close.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Perú has spectacular archeological treasures. Is it doing enough to keep them safe?

LIMA, Perú – Dating to around 2,000 B.C., the mysterious murals at the Ventarrón archeological site along Perú’s northern coast are thought to be the oldest in the Americas.

But this month, just a decade after their discovery, the ancient paintings of abstract designs and a deer caught in a net were badly damaged when farmers’ fires to clear neighboring fields of sugar cane stumps ran out of control.Just a few days earlier, nearly 1,000 miles further south, it had emerged that a recently rediscovered geoglyph of a sperm whale with human features, an early precursor to the famed Nazca lines, had been all but hemmed in by private property as a result of land sales that, in theory, should be illegal that close to an archeological site.

The incidents have once again shone a spotlight on Perú’s spectacular archeological treasures and the country’s apparent inability to adequately safeguard and conserve them.

Although the Andean nation is best known for its Inca heritage, that great pre-Colombian empire was in fact just the last in a series of cultures as diverse as those of the Mediterranean basin that once flourished here stretching back over eight millennia.

Those myriad peoples have left Perú dotted with an estimated 20,000 known archeological sites, ranging from the positively tiny to around 20 comparable in scale to Machu Picchu.

 Sarcophaguses made of clay from the Chachapoyas culture are seen at the Karajia archeological site, in Chachapoyas, Peru,
Yet as few as 200 have any kind of protection, usually no more than one or two signs and a single guard, says Alejandro Camino, the former Perú director for the Global Heritage Fund, a San Francisco-based nonprofit that works to save archeological ruins.

He warns that Perú is failing to protect its archeological patrimony while also missing out on the badly needed opportunity for economic development that many of these sites represent for often impoverished neighboring communities.

“These two cases [Ventarrón and the whale geoglyph] are the ones that have come to light but how many others are there across Perú that we never even hear about?” asks Camino.

The Peruvian government dedicates roughly 0.32 percent of its national budget to the culture ministry, which manages the country’s archeological heritage. But the ministry, which did not respond to NBCs requests for comment, also has numerous other responsibilities, everything from tackling racism to defending the human rights of indigenous peoples and, of course, promoting contemporary Peruvian culture.

“Faced with the magnitude of the problem, it is ridiculous and unviable,” says Camino of the public resources dedicated to archeology beyond the handful of well known sites, such as Machu Picchu, that represent a cash cow for the national and local governments.

“Our experience has been that even a small trickle of tourists can have a significant impact on the local economy of often isolated rural communities,” he says. “Investing just a small amount, and getting the local community on board, is always money well spent.”

As well as saving important local heritage and bringing in tourist dollars, better protecting many of these sites would lessen the pressure on Machu Picchu, which is overwhelmed by the 3,000 visitors it receives each day, and the rest of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which runs from the spectacular citadel perched across a sugar loaf mountain, to the old imperial capital of Cusco.

 A view of Machu Picchu in Peru's Cusco region. JTB Photo / UIG Via Getty Images
In 2008, UNESCO, the United Nations’ cultural agency, even issued public warnings about its “grave concern” that Perú was failing to protect Machu Picchu from the wear and tear of so many visitors, and that the small town of Aguascalientes, which is the gateway to the site, was turning into a tourist trap.

The government of then president Alan García implemented various measures, including banning the helicopter over flights for wealthy tourists that ruined others’ once-in-a-lifetime experience, thus managing to avoid a formal warning from UNESCO.

But issues persist, everything from land trafficking to the culturally accepted ransacking of archeological sites that has been going on for centuries and even has its own verb in Peruvian Spanish; “huaquear,” based on the Quechua term “huaca”, meaning “sacred” but which is often used to simply denote an archeological site.

Items such as ceramics, gold or silver jewelry, textiles and even mummies, have all been fetching high prices on illegal international markets since even the colonial era.

In the case of Ventarrón, experts say the murals can be largely restored, although some 15 percent is now damaged beyond repair.

As for the sperm whale geoglyph, Johny Isla, the local government archeologist who led the recent work to restore it — including painstakingly replacing the missing stones that had rolled from the 200 ft-long image down the hillside — says he is now looking at legal ways to recover the 150 acres of land around the site, just a few miles from the original Nasca lines.

When the site is up and running, Isla adds, there will be a road to it through the desert, a perimeter fence, signposting and a viewing platform. There are other nearby geoglyphs, including of a pelican and a scorpion, that he also wants to preserve, all from around the time of Christ.

Yet committed professionals like him and Camino, it seems, still have a long road to travel before all of Perú’s vast archeological legacy is truly protected

Friday, July 7, 2017

New Regulations for visitors of Machu Picchu since July 2017

The Peruvian Ministry of Culture is set to roll out a new regulation for visitors of Machu Picchu.

Starting on July 1, tourists visiting Machu Picchu must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide for either a morning tour (6 a.m. to 12 p.m.) or an afternoon tour (12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) In addition, a group of visitors will be limited to a maximum of 16 people.

Ticket prices will remain the same at 152 Peruvian Sol (US$46.45) for adults. Those wanting to spend a whole day at the Incan citadel will pay for both the morning and afternoon tours. Tickets are available at Machu Picchu’s official website and can also be purchased from tour operators.

“We anticipate that the new system introduced by the Ministry of Culture will regulate the flow of travelers entering the site and help to preserve the authenticity of this national treasure,” said Tony Mason, CEO of the Latin American Travel Association (LATA), as reported by kompas.com.

Tickets already purchased will still be valid through December 2017 and these ticket holders will not be subjected to the new time restrictions, according to The Independent.

Ministerial Resolution No. 070-2017-MC prohibits the use of:

  • Tripods, supports or extensions for cameras, cell phones or any other element of stabilization or extension for the filming or photography of the Sanctuary Machu Picchu; As well as the so-called selfie stick or monopie that fits the mobile phone to take pictures or film.
  • The use of backpacks or bags that exude the size of 40 x 30 x 20 cm, If the size is exceeded, these should be left in the wardrobes that are located in the access to Machu Picchu.
  • The entrance of food and utensils.
  • Income with any type of illegal substance or under its effects.
  • The entrance with any type of alcoholic beverage or in ethyl state.
  • Entry with animals (except for guide dogs being strictly necessary.)
  • Income with any type of aerosols.
  • Entry with any type of musical instrument, megaphone or speakers.
  • It is not allowed to use virtual applications with cell phones or mobile devices in narrow arteries, trails or congestion sites (it is allowed only in large spaces or places of explanation)
  • No return is allowed with heels or hard-shoe shoes. (Only athletic shoes with soft or rubber sole are permitted.)
  • No access with baby carriages, Only with baby backpacks without metal frames.
  • It is prohibited to enter with any type of sharp objects or weapons of any type, or to enter with banners. It will only be allowed for guides with groups of more than 5 people.
  • It is not allowed to cause tumult, jump, jump or generate disorder in the access to Machu Picchu or in the interior.
  • It is not allowed to enter with clothing intended for advertising purposes.
  • It is not allowed to climb or lean on walls and / or structures, move, touch or extract lithic elements.
  • Prohibited to make graffiti, as well as disturb, extract or collect native flora and fauna and / or cultural elements.
  • Activities that distort the sacred character of the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu are not allowed, such as fashion shows, dances and social engagements, ceremonies of any kind.
  • It is not allowed to enter portable seats, among others; Entry of canes with metallic or hard tip (the use of walking sticks for elderly people or with obvious physical incapacity, as long as they have a tip of jebe)
  • It is prohibited to carry out any type of activity that implies the impairment or deterioration of the llaqta of Machu Picchu, its natural environment and / or facilities.
  • Obscene acts contrary to morality and good manners are not allowed, nor are they stripped, disguised, recumbent, running and / or jumping.
  • It is forbidden to make loud or annoying noises such as clapping, screaming, whistling, singing, among others.
  • Smoking is not allowed or vapear.

  • No fire is allowed.
  • Dispose of waste of any kind.
  • Do not respect established circuits and routes.
  • The ambulatory trade to the interior of the llaqta of Machu Picchu and spaces bordering to the bridge Ruinas.
  • Feeding domestic and wild animals.
  • Fly over with paragliders, drones or any kind of smaller craft; As well as making films or photographs for advertising purposes or in places of high risk.
  • Finally, illegal entry to the llaqta of Machu Picchu is prohibited by routes not allowed.

Machu Picchu has not been designated in danger of extinction by the UN

The UN doesn't plan to add Machu Picchu to its list of endangered heritage sites, Peruvian officials say.

UNESCO experts agreed at a meeting in Krakow, Poland, that the steps taken by Peru to address concerns about the condition of the Inca citadel were sufficient to keep Machu Picchu off the list, the Cuzco regional culture office (DDC) said in a statement on Thursday.

"There was not even a debate or discussion, which means that UNESCO retires its intention to add Machu Picchu to the list of endangered world heritage sites," DDC director Vidal Pino said.

In 2015, UNESCO gave the Peruvian government two years to make needed improvements in the administration of the ruins, which receive more than 3,000 visitors a day on average.

Peru has established some new guidelines for tourists at Machu Picchu, including bans on bringing food and drink, baby carriages, pets, umbrellas, or musical instruments onto the site.

Visitors will also be prohibited from climbing on or leaning against the walls.
The new rules limit the number of tourists entering the complex to 5,940 per day.
UNESCO's decision "is an important achievement of the Culture Ministry and the Peruvian state," Pino said.
Machu Picchu, made famous by the 1911 expedition of US explorer Hiram Bingham, was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1983.

Machupicchu Travel: http://www.tourmachupicchutravel.com/

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

First blind person to climb to Machu Picchu in one day

Dan Berlin, a runner who lives in Colorado with his wife and two kids, lost his eyesight over the course of twenty years due to cone-rod dystrophy.

He struggled with the limitations of his new reality. But instead of simply feeling sorry for himself, he says he came up with a new way to approach the rest of his life.

He and three other athletes formed Team See Possibilities. The group takes on endurance challenges around the world linked to charitable causes, in an effort to encourage people to overcome their obstacles.

The group recently teamed up with Intrepid Travel, the company who sponsored the adventure, to take on the challenge in Peru.

The trek ascends from approximately 9,000 feet to over 14,000 feet elevation. Hikers on the Inca Trail typically take four days, but the team planned to go non-stop.

The group reached Machu Picchu in just 13 hours, making Berlin the first blind athlete to accomplish the feat.

Intrepid Travel was able to arrange exclusive permits so the team could start at 4:30 a.m. on the day of the hike and got special access after closing hours.

"The main Intrepid Travel guide, Elyas, actually ran the Inca Trail the week before the run to time the route for Dan, before joining Dan on the trek," Michael Sadowski of Intrepid Travel said. "He knew exactly what time Dan and the team needed to be where in order to complete the run in a single day."

Aside from Machu Picchu, Berlin and his team have run several marathons, completed two Half Ironman triathlons and even ran across the Grand Canyon and back nonstop—making Berlin the first blind athlete to complete this as well.

"At the most basic level, I am a father of 2 awesome children, Talia 15 and Ky 11, and as such, strive to be an inspiring role model for them," Berlin told kmtwanderlust.com. "We often talk about setting goals and following your dreams in life even in the face of adversity. I hope to be an example for them of how we can take obstacles in our path and turn them into springboards for positive change."

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

How to get to Machu Picchu Perú

Located on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains, nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, Machu Picchu is Peru’s most famous archeological treasure. Hidden by Western civilization for hundreds of years until its discovery by American archeologist Hiram Bingham, Machu Picchu (the old mountain) was an Incan citadel built in the 15th century. Today, Machu Picchu is one of the most visited attractions in South America and has been repeatedly described as a place that needs to be seen at least once in a lifetime. This travel guide provides basic information on transportation to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in addition to safety tips, lodging and dining recommendations.

How To Get To Peru

Peruvian Airports

Most international travelers will fly to Lima, the capital of Peru. Jorge Chávez International Airport in Lima is the busiest airport in the country, serving more than eight million passengers annually. Among the domestic and foreign airline carriers serving Lima are Aeroméxico, American, Delta, JetBlue, LAN, Spirit and United. Carriers with service from Lima to Cusco (Cuzco) are Peruvian, StarPeru and Tespa. Licensed taxis. airport shuttles and car rentals from Avis, Budget or Hertz are available.

The closest international airport to Machu Picchu is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco. However, no direct flights are available from the U.S. Visitors arriving at this airport can find a taxi service such as Cusco Transport and Tours and Cusco Shuttle to transport them into the city.
Passengers arriving in Lima must take an 80-minute flight on airline carriers such as Peruvian or LAN to Cusco, or choose the more affordable, but less practical, option of riding a bus for 21 hours.
From Cusco, visitors must take a train outside of the city to the closest town to Machu Picchu — Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo.


Entry Into Peru

U.S. citizens must have a valid U.S. passport in their possession to gain entry into, as well as to depart Peru. One of the pages of the passport must be blank for the entry stamp and tourist visas are issued at the port of entry. There are no currency restrictions for entry or exit. A vaccination for yellow fever prior to the trip is recommended.

Entrances Fees To Machu Picchu

Purchases made be made through the official Machu Picchu website or at any National Bank of Peru (Banco de la Nación) location. Currently, general admission is $41 with additional charges to the museum or to the iconic mountain known as Huayna Picchu. The official website does list local offices and ticket agents for purchases. However, due to high demand, tickets sell out fast. To guarantee entry to Machu Picchu, visitors are advised to purchase their tickets in advance of the trip. Only 2,500 people are allowed each day to Machu Picchu, and only 400 to the iconic Huayna Picchu (young peak). Additionally, permits to hike the Inca Trail (Camino Inka) are limited to 500 per day (including 300 trekking staff). Information on permit availability can be found through the official Machu Picchu website via the Queries tab. A map of the Inca Trail can be found through MachuPicchu.org, which also features maps of the Machu Picchu sanctuary. The UNESCO World Heritage page for Machu Picchu is another valuable resource for information and maps.
Safety Precautions

U.S. travelers are advised to visit the U.S. Passports and International Travel website for any traveler advisories for Peru or any planned destination. Currently, there are no travel restrictions to Machu Picchu and Cusco. Additional traveler information can be found on the website for the U.S. Embassy in Lima.

Travelers are also advised to be extremely mindful of the dangers of altitude sickness. The Center for Disease Control provides valuable information on their website, including how to acclimate to high altitudes, prevention of severe altitude illness and treatment of acute mountain sickness. Travelers must also be aware of the weather conditions during the planned trip, in addition to the potential for earthquakes in the region.

Travelers should be especially careful careful when negotiating paths in and around Machu Picchu, particularly if the visit includes a trip to Huayna Picchu. Adventurers should also make sure to have a sufficient supply of water packed for the trek.

How To View The Ruins

Extending across 80,000 acres, Machu Picchu is divided into two sectors — the partially restored urban sector with more than 170 buildings including houses, sanctuaries and temples, and the agricultural sector, featuring more than 600 enormous terraces where crops were grown.
Due to its vast size, visitors should take their time strolling through the ancient ruins and do their best to help preserve one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. This is especially important since attendance has steadily grown over the past three decades.
By using a map for reference, visitors can visit the most important sites within the sanctuary in one day, including the Sun Temple, Royal Tomb, the Palace of the Princess and the Main Temple. If making the ascent up Machu Picchu or the more challenging Huayna Picchu, visitors can expect a hike in duration of three hours and 1.5 hours respectively.

Transportation From Cusco To Machu Picchu

Train

Because there is no road leading to Machu Picchu, visitors will either have to take a train or hike 26 miles along the world-famous Inca Trail from Cusco, which can take four days.
Trains do not depart directly from Cusco however, so visitors must take either a taxi or bus to either train station in Poroy, eight miles northwest of Cusco, or from the train station in Ollantaytambo, 38 miles northwest of Cusco. Of the two stations, the latter offers far more departures and return trips from Agua Caliente, the town closest to Machu Picchu.

Poroy Train Station

PeruRail offers four morning departures from Poroy and four return trips in the afternoon from Machu Picchu. All trips operate during both the high and low seasons, although prices are slightly more affordable in the latter. Tickets may be purchased online as well as at train stations and a number of point of sales locations, such as the Lima International Airport and Cusco International Airport

It is recommended that tickets be purchased in advance to ensure a seat onboard any of the trains, particularly during the high season. The length of train trip from Poroy vary from three hours 10 minutes on the Expedition train to nearly four hours on the second Vistadome trip. The final morning trip features luxury service on the Belmond Hiram Bingham train, but it is by far the most expensive of the three levels of train service.

Ollantaytambo Train Station

Two train operators provide rail service between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Caliente — PeruRail and Inca Rail.

Currently, PeruRail offers 12 outbound trips on either the Expedition or Vistadome trains from Ollantaytambo and 11 return trips from Agua Caliente.

Inca Train offers one economy class round-trip and four executive or first class round-trips from Ollantaytambo. Both the economy class and executive class trains run year-round, while the first class service operates only during the high season, from April 1 to Oct. 31.

Like Peru Rail, tickets for the Inca Train can be purchased online, at the international airports and at ticket offices. The duration for train trips for either operator averages 90 minutes one-way.
Transportation From Aguas Calientes To Machu Picchu
Visitors have the option of hiking approximately 90 minutes up the steep path to Machu Picchu or taking  the Consettur bus. Fare on the bus is currently $12 one way or $24 round-trip. The ticket office is open from 5:30 a.m. until 9 p.m. The last bus departs Machu Picchu at 5:30 p.m. Buses run about every 15 minutes throughout the day, although no complete timetable is published.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Peru Announces Plans to Create a 'Second Machu Picchu'

 One of Peru’s best kept secrets is about to be circled on the map.
While Machu Picchu and the Incan ruins of the south have for decades been the main calling card for just about every person that steps foot in Peru, the Chachapoya ruins of the northern “cloud people” have remained largely underexplored, a prize left for backpackers and savvy travelers looking to avoid the crowds. But those days look to be coming to an end as the Peruvian government seeks to ease traffic off its holy grail and increase tourism in other areas of the country, specifically the northern Amazonas region.
The plan calls for a cultural heritage site called Kuelap to be the centerpiece of the north’s revitalization, as well as several other 9th century Chachapoya ruins, such as Sipan, Chan Chan, Leymebamba, and Gran Pajaten. As of now, they all remain underexplored due to a lack of both access and awareness.
Last week, the first step to fixing the former was taken. The government announced that it will build a cable car system that will allow the general public easier access to Kuelap, which, like most of the Chachapoya ruins, sits at the top of a mountain ridge in a cloud forest. Once access is increased, it stands to reason that awareness will follow.
“Kuelap could be a second Machu Picchu, easily,” Peru’s President Ollanta Humala said. “With Kuelap, we can create a tourist circuit that will be as competitive as the south.”
Set to begin operating in 2016, the cable car system will cost roughly $18 million and have the capacity to transport 1,000 passengers per hour. There has been no word yet on whether the other sites will receive related upgrades. A video was released to show the scope of the project. It’s entirely in Spanish, but you can still get a sense of it all even if you don’t speak the language.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Moche Route Documentary National Geographic

The “Moche Route” documentary is part of a four-part special program on Peru that National Geographic will air throughout Latin America starting on Sunday, July 6.

 According to Carmen Larios, VP of Programming and Development of National Geographic Channels for Latin America, the documentary will air on Sundays during prime time (21:00).

The Moche Route documentary, issued on Wednesday to the national press, presents a visit to Trujillo, a city close to important archaeological sites such as the world’s largest mud-brick citadel of Chan Chan, and the area around seaside town of Huanchaco, known for its reed horses.

 The entire program will run four Sundays featuring archaeological sites in Lambayeque and La Libertad, as well as the Nazca Lines in Ica region, and the citadel of Machu Picchu in Cusco. The first documentary to air as part of this four-part special program is named Ancient Megastructures: Machu Picchu, intended to discover the secrets of revolutionary structures in the ancient Inca empire.

 This documentary shows Machu Picchu built to celebrate Emperor Pachacutec as one of the planet’s most awe-inspiring monuments. The documentary Peru Milenario (Millennnial Peru) about pre-Inca cultures that flourished in the Andean nation and the Americas will be broadcast the following Sunday, July 13. The Moche Route will air on July 20, followed by a special on July 27 about “Nasca Lines” lying in the dusty desert of southern Peru and that are among the most enigmatic human monuments ever created.

http://www.peruthisweek.com/news-national-geographic-to-broadcast-documentary-on-moche-route-103418

Friday, June 20, 2014

Machu Picchu "1000 Places To See Before You Die"

Tras vencer a las pirámides de Giza, Machu Picchu resultó ganador de la encuesta 񓐈 Places to See Before You Die".

Miles de internautas votaron y el ganador absoluto de la encuesta "1000 Places To See Before You Die" ("1000 Lugares que Ver antes de Morir", en español) es Machu Picchu, tras vencer por abrumadora mayoría -79.63%- a las pirámides de Giza (Egipto).
El concurso, organizado por el diario virtual The Huffington Post", empezó el 16 de noviembre e incluyó destinos como la Isla de Pascua (Chile), la Plaza Roja de Moscú (Rusia), la playa de Ipanema (Brasil), las Islas Galápagos (Ecuador), el desierto del Sahara (África) y el Vaticano (Italia), entre otros.
"Incomparable", "mágico", "cautivador" y "extraordinario" fueron algunos de los adjetivos con los que los votantes describieron a la ciudadela Inca.

New Inca Trail Discovered that Leads to Machu Picchu

Archeologists have unearthed a new discovery near the Inca city of Machu Picchu. The new trail leads to the ancient site, adding to the already extensive Inca Trail network favored by adventurers and tourists. Fernando Astete, chief of the Archeological Park of Machu Picchu, and a group of his workers discovered the trail, which is around a mile long.

First reported by the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio, the road is located on the rear part of the mountaintop site and leads to the region of Wayraqtambo, Tambo de los Vientos. A group of workers are now clearing the road. They also discovered a tunnel that, according to Astete, continues to be passable.

 It is at least 15 feet in length and is 2,700 meters above sea level. "This is one of the best examples of Inca engineering," Astete told the newspaper. "It has been verified that the tunnel was built after the main road collapsed. Then, our ancestors fractured the rock and begun th
e construction."


Speaking with Fox News Latino, Astete added that there was no inkling that the road was there, but he is sure there are others that remain hidden. He added that the road predates even Machu Picchu itself, which was built around 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire.

This new discovery adds to the mystique of the place and will encourage more tourists to visit the site, though they may not need much encouragement.

A survey conducted by travel site Hostelworld.com found that more tourists wanted to visit Machu Picchu than other places around the world. Called "My Awesome Destination" contest, more than one million people chose the Peruvian archeological site, impressing even Peru's Foreign Trade and Tourism Minister.

"This is the result of constant promotional work in the main tourism source countries for one of the most celebrated destinations in our country, and of the special conservation work done by local officials at the Incan sanctuary, which welcomed 1,177,308 tourists in 2013," said Minister Magali Silva.

After Machu Picchu, respondents chose the Full Moon Party in Thailand and South Africa's Kruger National Park as top choices.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Archaeologists Discover Astronomical Observatory At Machu Picchu

Archaeologists excavating at the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu in Peru have discovered the remains of an astronomical observatory. 

The Peruvian-Polish team cleared away an unexcavated building of the well-preserved Inca retreat, now the most popular destination in the country, and found that the stones of the structure have astronomical alignments.

The team used 3D laser scanning to map the building, dubbed "El Mirador", so as to get precise locations and alignments. They found that the edges of many stones lined up with important celestial events on the horizon of the surrounding Yanantin mountain peaks.

The Inca were well-known as astronomers who took careful note of the movements of the heavens in order to plan their agricultural and religious calendars. This was common in many ancient civilizations and the field of archaeoastronomy, which studies who ancient societies examined with the sky, is a growing field of research.

The Polish researchers have been working at Machu Picchu since 2008 and have been focusing on the site's archaeoastronomical significance. They presented their findings earlier this month at the International Conference of the Societe Europeenne pour l' Astronomie dans la Culture in Athens.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Lonely Planet Machupicchu

Lonely Planet is this month releasing a guide to what it describes as 'the world's most spectacular routes'.

Great Journeys is a hardback book that lists more than 70 travel itineraries across the globe, ranging from well-known classics such as the trek to Machu Picchu in Peru to the 'hippy trail', which was one of the first trips taken by Lonely Planet founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler.

The expeditions are organised into groups using criteria such as rivers and seas, which covers famous locations like the Nile, Norway's fjords and the Mississippi leading to New Orleans.

Readers can also learn more about overland adventures like the Cairo to Cape Town tour, walking along the Great Wall of China and following the route detailed in Joseph Conrad's story Heart of Darkness, which inspired the movie Apocalypse Now.

The book includes images of the various destinations visited on each journey, as well as practical planning tips and background material.

Magical Machu Picchu a real mystery

IT STARTED with mysterious, mystical Machu Picchu, high in the Peruvian Andes.

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the citadel was never found by Spanish conquistadors who were plundering the Incan empire about the time Columbus "discovered" North America.

No one is sure why the Incas abandoned the town, fortified with carefully-hewn granite on top of massive mountains, more than 500 years ago.

All experts know, by broken pottery along its steep trails, is that the inhabitants left in a hurry, taking only what they could carry.

They estimate that Machu Picchu, which could have housed fewer than 1000 people, would have taken tens- of-thousands of workers many decades to build.

"Mystery upon mystery," our guide Camila Alfaro Rodriguez said.

"What you have to understand is that Machu Picchu has a few answers, and a lot of questions."

It has been suggested that the town was an Incan king's private hideaway, but the truth is, and it seems will forever be, shrouded in mystery.

The Incan empire lasted less than 100 years, sustained by almost a dozen other South American civilisations that stretched back 200 years before Christ was born.

Its capital, Cuzco, is higher in the Andes. The impressive city's cobbled streets are dotted with churches, Moorish-influenced townhouses and manicured courtyards, mostly built on top of Incan stonework. It is alive with little stores, street vendors and history.

Cuzco is a tourism centre, from which tens-of-thousands of travellers launch their journeys to Machu Picchu, 112km west, down through the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Some visitors take buses or trains to within 42km of the mystical town, to walk for four days in the footsteps of the Incas on part of the famed Inca Trail. Others pile aboard "expeditioner" trains to Aguas Calientes, the little tourist town at the base of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a national park that covers the mountains and slopes around the citadel.

From the town, the citadel is only a 20-minute, exhilarating bus ride around a dozen or so hairpin bends.

But first things first.

In Cuzco, we stayed at the Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and Catholic university that was built by the Spaniards in 1595.

A few minutes walk from the city's squares, it was converted to a hotel in 1965.

It has more than 100 rooms, no two the same.

Several are "oxygenated" to help guests cope with the altitude.

Each morning, a classical guitarist plays in the garden where guests, if they wish, can take breakfast, including rich coffee grown in the Secret Valley.

Other times, Gregorian chants are softly piped through the cloisters.

In the guest book, Bill and Melinda Gates, who visited in 2008, wrote that this was the most beautiful hotel in which they had ever stayed.

Hotel Monasterio not only has a unique atmosphere, it also has warm, helpful staff.

Like the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu, the hotel is owned and operated by Orient Express.

Hiram Bingham III was a US academic, explorer and politician credited with unearthing Machu Picchu in 1911.

Bingham, so the story goes, was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones.

The rail trip from Cuzco to Machu Picchu may be only 112km, but it travels through centuries of South American history.

From the outside, only the train's blue-and-gold livery distinguishes it from three other companies that bring thousands of explorers to the area each day. But inside, the carriages' polished timber, parquetry, brass fittings and classy, frosted glass panels with a HB logo tell another story.

The opulent carriages, built in Singapore, were designed by Orient Express and based on the classic 1920s Pullman cars.

The Hiram Bingham, which carries a maximum of 84 passengers each journey, runs only once a day.

And what a run.

The smiling, super-efficient, uniformed staff, and the selection of the best South American wines and cordon-bleu cuisine that they serve (we had alpaca, guinea pig and Chilean steak and trout in two sittings, all delicious) are the backdrop to the main event.

Hiram Bingham passengers have front row seats to the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The railway line winds along next to the magic Urubamba River, which lures whitewater raft paddlers like bees to flowers.

Rich farmland that climbs tier by tier to impossible angles up the mountains is just across the river.

Then the train snakes into narrow valleys framed by mountains that disappear into clouds on both sides.

A little further along, it cuts into tunnels.

Between courses, you can head to the bar car at the rear of the train, through to the open-air observation deck for a quick photo.

But before you know it, you are at Aguas Calientes, and minutes away from the citadel.

Our guide Camila Rodriguez had already introduced herself on the train.

It was warm and fine on top of Machu Picchu.

Camila led 10 of us through, up and down the city, regaling us with tales of

the Inca kings, Spanish invaders intent on "mining" Incan gold, and Incan life, as revealed through hints uncovered by teams of archeologists still digging on the site.

More than four and a half hours later, it was over.

We had organised to stay a night in Aguas Calientes, taking to the citadel the next day, this time by ourselves.

Five hours later, we came down, almost satisfied, and within the hour we were back on the Hiram Bingham.

A quiet drink in the bar car turned into a full-on party, as all the passengers, Inca Piscos in hand, were joined by two bands and most of the staff.

There was even a chorus of Waltzing Matilda before we were called back to the dining cars for a superb meal.

We all rolled back into the bar car for the last half an hour of the trip.

The music and drinks started flowing again and I leaned over and asked a Brazilian girl exactly what we were celebrating.

She shrugged and laughed.

"It's just the South American way," she said.

It made sense on the train.

Almost two months later, it still does.

No one should miss it.

NEW SEVEN WONDERS

Petra (100BC) Jordan
Christ the Redeemer (1931) Brazil
Machu Picchu (1450), Peru
Chichen Itza (600), Mexico
Colosseum (80), Italy
Taj Mahal (1648), India
The Great Wall of China (started about 400BC), China
- New7Wonders Foundation, 2006

ALL ABOARD

The Hiram Bingham train package includes:

The train journey from Cuzco (Poroy) to Machu Picchu and return
Musical entertainment on board
Water, tea, coffee, Cusquena Beer, Pisco Sour and an excellent wine selection
Brunch on out-bound journey; cocktails and dinner on return journey
Transport to and from Machu Picchu
Admission ticket to Machu Picchu sanctuary
Professional Machu Picchu tour guide for every 14 passengers (our group had 10)
Afternoon tea served at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
A stay at Cuzco's Hotel Monasterio can be added.
FIVE REASONS NOT TO WALK THE INCA TRAIL

The trek, known as the Inca Trail, begins in the Secret Valley and ends at Machu Picchu, a four-day walk covering 42km. However, the trail is much longer than this section. It is a web of well-built paths that linked the Inca empire

Altitude sickness can bring the fittest walker to a standstill

Although the walk is rated "moderate", the Incas used steps extensively, and the trail winds high into the mountains. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it

Machu Picchu is at the end of the walk ... when you need all the fitness you can muster to explore

Unless you have organised an extra day at Machu Picchu at the end of your trek, you could find that you have little time at the citadel (a couple we met walked for four days only to have only two hours at Machu Picchu ... in poor weather)

Peru’s travel treasures: Machu Piccu and more

If you want to see something truly indescribable, go to Machu Picchu in Peru. One of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu is an Incan city that remained unknown to the Spanish conquistadors and to outsiders in general until it was "discovered" (I use this term loosely because the local people knew of its existence) by Yale professor Hiram Bingham in 1911.
I recommend hiring a tour guide for the experience. I would bet good money that they make up half of what they say as they go along, but that is part of the fun of Machu Picchu. There are so many nooks and crannies and little rooms that can be whatever you want them to be. The guides will also point out the spots where many gather on certain days of the year when the sun hits a certain place and either illuminates the The Intihuatana stone, described in English as "The Hitching Post of the Sun," (on the southern hemisphere's summer soltice) or casts no shadow at all due to the sun being directly above the stone (the spring and fall equinoxes), hence "hitching" the sun. My guide also had a backpack full of fun things that he would pull out to show us along the way. At one point, he offered us some coca leaves (the plant that they make cocaine from) and we politely declined.
There is a lot to see on your own too. There are llamas and alpacas (to be honest I can't tell the difference between them) that wander the premises and graze freely. There are also lots of walking trails to explore — you can actually hike all the way up to Machu Picchu and camp along the way. The journey takes about three days. There is nothing more incredible than standing at the top of the city and looking down; you feel as if you are on top of the world.
But Machu Picchu isn't the only site to see in Peru, far from it in fact. I visited some lovely villages in the Inca Valley, where I ran into some local kids coming home from school while I was exploring. We came across each other in a small field with a lone cow and a pigsty. We chased each other around for awhile until the little girl climbed over the fence into the pigsty. I chose not to follow; it was during moments like this that I really wish I spoke Spanish.
Most people in Peru are very religious, and I was lucky enough to be there during their Easter celebration. Everyone in the town gathered together in a procession carrying a statue of Jesus. There was lively music and lots of joyful celebrations all around. Unlike in America, Peru does not have an Easter Bunny. I asked the women behind the desk at my hotel about this and she gave me a puzzled look. I explained that the Easter bunny was like Santa Clause, except he was a rabbit. Looking back on it, my explanation probably caused more confusion.
Cuzco, the colonial city, is another beautiful sight to see. It also happens to be 10,800 feet above sea level, so to avoid getting altitude sickness you should end your trip there. When Pizarro arrived in 1534, he built Spanish style buildings on top of Incan ones, and, when you expose the foundation of the buildings, you can still see the Incan structures underneath. Incan building methods are very unique because they didn't use any mortar to stick stones together — they carved them so exactly that they fit together like puzzle pieces. Another interesting aspect of all this is that they were able to carve the stones without bronze tools, leading some people to speculate that the Incan structures were actually created by aliens.
Peru is a great place to go to try new foods. I ate guinea pig and alpaca. Guinea pig tastes just like chicken and alpaca is a dark meat which tasted like a weird steak to me. But as always when you travel, be very careful about the food that you eat because it is very easy to get sick. My Dad got really sick from eating an undercooked hamburger. But as long as you can tell that something has been cooked well, don't be afraid to try it!

Machu Picchu could close for up to 5 months.


Peru’s major tourist attraction, Machu Picchu, could close for 2 to 5 months due to heavy rains.

Oscar Valencia, Mayor of Machu Picchu, said Civil Defense and the National Weather Service had predicted rain would be four times as intense next year.

"There is a danger next year, Machu Picchu is likely to close for 2 to 5 months simply because there was no security work or water defense done,” he said, according to T News Peru.

He said 35 million soles were needed for infrastructure works to cope with the heavy rains, but that the municipality only had a budget of 12 million soles.

Valencia said the municipality was currently negotiating with the government, in hopes of receiving special funds to carry out the necessary infrastructure improvements.

According to Andina, David Ugarte Vega-Centeno, head of Cusco’s Regional Directorate of Culture, said previous administrations had not taken issues like public safety and emergency plans into consideration.

A group of experts from Unesco is expected to travel to Peru in January and February in order to examine the problems Machu Picchu is facing.

Machu Picchu: The Apex Of Tebowing

We're doing our best to ignore it, but the Tebowing meme struggles on, destined to haunt us every few weeks or so. Today, for example, we received this tip from Scott, who writes, "AFTER A 12000 FOOT SUMMIT I HAD TO TEBOW ONCE I COMPLETED MY JOURNEY..." That is somewhat understandable, Scott.

So here he is, Tebowing atop Machu Picchu, one of the most beautiful summits in the world. We considered ignoring it, but it's just a rather nice photo. If you can somehow top this, let us know.

Move over Machu Picchu


Marcahuamachuco, an enigmatic 1,600-year-old archeological complex built from stone in the northern Peruvian Andes, is emerging bit by bit from oblivion and could become a beacon of tourism on the scale of Machu Picchu.

Spread over 590 acres (240 hectares) on a plateau more than 12,000 feet (3,700 meters) high in the mountains, the pre-Incan site embodies all the evils that have befallen Peru's archeological treasures.

Though still full of mysteries - who lived here, and why, is unknown - the complex has been plundered of artifacts that might help unlock its secrets, and has long been subjected to the depredations of nature.

But it's still there, groups of sometimes monumental stone building, massive rounded walls that rise 10 to 15 meters , galleries, a rectangular plaza and dwellings, and an urban religious centre with a sanctuary.

“All of it walled in, a fortress of stone on a plateau to defend against invasion,” said Cristian Vizconde, the government's chief archeologist.

Marcahuamachuco - in Quechua, “the people of the men with hawklike headresses” - has been studied by archeologists since 1900.

Parts of the site are still buried under centuries of accumulated earth, masking its true dimensions.

But its splendor was revealed anew in October 2010 when brush was cleared away as part of a major preservation effort by the government in partnership with the Global Heritage Fund, a non-profit whose mission is to protect endangered world cultural heritage sites.

The fund is providing scientific help to study, preserve and make Marcahuamachuco Ä long overshadowed by the far more celebrated Machu Picchu more than 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) away Ä ready for sustainable tourism. The goal is to get it registered as a world heritage site by Unesco.

“It is the most important pre-Inca centre in the Andes, with its own language, culli (which lasted until the 20th century), with its own gods and buildings unlike any seen in Peruvian archeological sites,” he said.

Even so, the complex remains shrouded in mystery.

“We don't know what culture Marcahuamachuco belonged to. We do know that the stone structures, with walls 10 to 15 meters high, were built between 350 and 400 AD but we don't know when its inhabitants arrived or where they came from,” said Vizconde.

Canadians John Topic and Theresa Lange-Topic, who have studied the complex, believe its last inhabitants left around the 13th century and that when the Incas arrived two centuries later they found only shepherds among the ruins.

“It's not known why they went, possibly because of an epidemic, but it's all a mystery that remains to be solved,” said Vizconde.

Archeologists hope to find clues in burial sites found behind thick walls in an area of the complex called the Castle where priests or nobles may have been buried.

“Those places have been sacked but the few human remains that were left will be analysed with the help of GHF,” Vizconde said, adding that another possible cemetery was found recently and could give up more secrets.

Julio Vargas, a GHF expert on archeological structures, said he was impressed by the size of the buildings and the mortar work used to join stones in a way that has endured centuries of rain, wind and abandonment.

“What strikes me is the incredible transparence of the ensemble: it was very open, as if it were a public message, built to impress, to show the power of a dynasty, I would imagine,” said John Hurd, a GHF advisor.

Hurd said the site is so imposing that it could “break the dependence of the tourism industry on Machu Picchu.”

Tourism could bring work and respect for the ancient ruins in an area where more than 300 other archeological sites are endangered by informal gold mining.

Luis Alberto Rebaza, the mayor of Huamachuco province, which has 150,000 people, calls the site's tourism potential “the great opportunity of my people.” - Sapa-AFP

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Magical Machupicchu


IT STARTED with mysterious, mystical Machu Picchu, high in the Peruvian Andes.

One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, the citadel was never found by Spanish conquistadors who were plundering the Incan empire about the time Columbus "discovered" North America.

No one is sure why the Incas abandoned the town, fortified with carefully-hewn granite on top of massive mountains, more than 500 years ago.

All experts know, by broken pottery along its steep trails, is that the inhabitants left in a hurry, taking only what they could carry.

They estimate that Machu Picchu, which could have housed fewer than 1000 people, would have taken tens- of-thousands of workers many decades to build.

"Mystery upon mystery," our guide Camila Alfaro Rodriguez said.

"What you have to understand is that Machu Picchu has a few answers, and a lot of questions."

It has been suggested that the town was an Incan king's private hideaway, but the truth is, and it seems will forever be, shrouded in mystery.

The Incan empire lasted less than 100 years, sustained by almost a dozen other South American civilisations that stretched back 200 years before Christ was born.

Its capital, Cuzco, is higher in the Andes. The impressive city's cobbled streets are dotted with churches, Moorish-influenced townhouses and manicured courtyards, mostly built on top of Incan stonework. It is alive with little stores, street vendors and history.

Cuzco is a tourism centre, from which tens-of-thousands of travellers launch their journeys to Machu Picchu, 112km west, down through the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Some visitors take buses or trains to within 42km of the mystical town, to walk for four days in the footsteps of the Incas on part of the famed Inca Trail. Others pile aboard "expeditioner" trains to Aguas Calientes, the little tourist town at the base of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary, a national park that covers the mountains and slopes around the citadel.

From the town, the citadel is only a 20-minute, exhilarating bus ride around a dozen or so hairpin bends.

But first things first.

In Cuzco, we stayed at the Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and Catholic university that was built by the Spaniards in 1595.

A few minutes walk from the city's squares, it was converted to a hotel in 1965.

It has more than 100 rooms, no two the same.

Several are "oxygenated" to help guests cope with the altitude.

Each morning, a classical guitarist plays in the garden where guests, if they wish, can take breakfast, including rich coffee grown in the Secret Valley.

Other times, Gregorian chants are softly piped through the cloisters.

In the guest book, Bill and Melinda Gates, who visited in 2008, wrote that this was the most beautiful hotel in which they had ever stayed.

Hotel Monasterio not only has a unique atmosphere, it also has warm, helpful staff.

Like the Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu, the hotel is owned and operated by Orient Express.

Hiram Bingham III was a US academic, explorer and politician credited with unearthing Machu Picchu in 1911.

Bingham, so the story goes, was the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones.

The rail trip from Cuzco to Machu Picchu may be only 112km, but it travels through centuries of South American history.

From the outside, only the train's blue-and-gold livery distinguishes it from three other companies that bring thousands of explorers to the area each day. But inside, the carriages' polished timber, parquetry, brass fittings and classy, frosted glass panels with a HB logo tell another story.

The opulent carriages, built in Singapore, were designed by Orient Express and based on the classic 1920s Pullman cars.

The Hiram Bingham, which carries a maximum of 84 passengers each journey, runs only once a day.

And what a run.

The smiling, super-efficient, uniformed staff, and the selection of the best South American wines and cordon-bleu cuisine that they serve (we had alpaca, guinea pig and Chilean steak and trout in two sittings, all delicious) are the backdrop to the main event.

Hiram Bingham passengers have front row seats to the stunning Sacred Valley of the Incas.

The railway line winds along next to the magic Urubamba River, which lures whitewater raft paddlers like bees to flowers.

Rich farmland that climbs tier by tier to impossible angles up the mountains is just across the river.

Then the train snakes into narrow valleys framed by mountains that disappear into clouds on both sides.

A little further along, it cuts into tunnels.

Between courses, you can head to the bar car at the rear of the train, through to the open-air observation deck for a quick photo.

But before you know it, you are at Aguas Calientes, and minutes away from the citadel.

Our guide Camila Rodriguez had already introduced herself on the train.

It was warm and fine on top of Machu Picchu.

Camila led 10 of us through, up and down the city, regaling us with tales of

the Inca kings, Spanish invaders intent on "mining" Incan gold, and Incan life, as revealed through hints uncovered by teams of archeologists still digging on the site.

More than four and a half hours later, it was over.

We had organised to stay a night in Aguas Calientes, taking to the citadel the next day, this time by ourselves.

Five hours later, we came down, almost satisfied, and within the hour we were back on the Hiram Bingham.

A quiet drink in the bar car turned into a full-on party, as all the passengers, Inca Piscos in hand, were joined by two bands and most of the staff.

There was even a chorus of Waltzing Matilda before we were called back to the dining cars for a superb meal.

We all rolled back into the bar car for the last half an hour of the trip.

The music and drinks started flowing again and I leaned over and asked a Brazilian girl exactly what we were celebrating.

She shrugged and laughed.

"It's just the South American way," she said.

It made sense on the train.

Almost two months later, it still does.

No one should miss it.

NEW SEVEN WONDERS

Petra (100BC) Jordan
Christ the Redeemer (1931) Brazil
Machu Picchu (1450), Peru
Chichen Itza (600), Mexico
Colosseum (80), Italy
Taj Mahal (1648), India
The Great Wall of China (started about 400BC), China
- New7Wonders Foundation, 2006

ALL ABOARD

The Hiram Bingham train package includes:

The train journey from Cuzco (Poroy) to Machu Picchu and return
Musical entertainment on board
Water, tea, coffee, Cusquena Beer, Pisco Sour and an excellent wine selection
Brunch on out-bound journey; cocktails and dinner on return journey
Transport to and from Machu Picchu
Admission ticket to Machu Picchu sanctuary
Professional Machu Picchu tour guide for every 14 passengers (our group had 10)
Afternoon tea served at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge
A stay at Cuzco's Hotel Monasterio can be added.
FIVE REASONS NOT TO WALK THE INCA TRAIL

The trek, known as the Inca Trail, begins in the Secret Valley and ends at Machu Picchu, a four-day walk covering 42km. However, the trail is much longer than this section. It is a web of well-built paths that linked the Inca empire

Altitude sickness can bring the fittest walker to a standstill

Although the walk is rated "moderate", the Incas used steps extensively, and the trail winds high into the mountains. The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it

Machu Picchu is at the end of the walk ... when you need all the fitness you can muster to explore

Unless you have organised an extra day at Machu Picchu at the end of your trek, you could find that you have little time at the citadel (a couple we met walked for four days only to have only two hours at Machu Picchu ... in poor weather)

You will miss the Orient Express Hiram Bingham train

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Express train to Machu Picchu

When Hiram Bingham first journeyed to the Lost City of the Incas in 1911, there were none of the amenities enjoyed by travellers along the route today. Indeed, there wasn't even a trail to follow, let alone a luxury train for the journey.

The Yale University archeology lecturer had been lured to Peru by rumours of an abandoned city and untold treasures hidden in a secret valley. A couple of local farmers guided him on a perilous hike through dark forests and along plunging cliff sides. Then, on a July day, they crested the granite mountain that looms high above the village of Aguas Calientes, turned a corner and found themselves staring at the fabled Lost City of the Incas.

Since then, thousands of visitors have also discovered what became known as Machu Picchu. (The name means "old peak" in the local Quechuan language, and refers to the mountain that hid it for so many centuries.) In 1983, it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site; in 2007, it became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

It is a magical place that is on many travellers' "bucket lists" - and for good reason. But even after the Peruvian government put in the narrow, twisting highway for the busloads of eager tourists, it was never easy to get there.

Until now.

On a sunny morning in the town of Poroy, on the outskirts of Cusco, the Orient Express Hiram Bingham train is ready to depart for Machu Picchu, its engine throbbing gently and its cars gleaming blue and gold in the sunlight.

A smiling conductor checks our tickets and we step aboard into a world of luxury. Like the historic Pullman cars, this train glows with rich colours, lush upholstery, polished panelled walls and attentive service. It's as if a century has slipped elegantly away.

Then the train's whistle blows and we begin our 3½-hour journey, travelling through narrow mountain valleys and past forests draped in exotic vines dotted with brilliantly coloured tropical flowers. Every once in a while, we glimpse the Inca Trail, the stone path to Machu Picchu that Bingham discovered in 1915. On the trail, hikers struggle manfully in the hot sun and the thin, highaltitude air. As for us, we're being called to the dining car for brunch.

Peru is famous for its cuisine, and as a luxury operator, Orient Express emphasizes the finest local and seasonal ingredients. Brunch is a gourmet meal that starts with a glass of sparkling wine and includes such savoury local delicacies as roast alpaca loin.

We've barely cleared our plates when the train slows and we pull into the village of Aguas Calientes, the nearest community to Machu Picchu, which is 400 metres straight above us. There we board a bus to climb the switchbacks of what has been nicknamed the Hiram Bingham Highway. We try hard not to look down the cliffs that plunge beneath our wheels.

At the top, we meet the guide arranged by Orient Express. He leads us through the ticket booth and along a stone path to the structure known as the Guardhouse. And suddenly we're struck silent, for Machu Picchu lies before us, and nothing has prepared us for its mysterious beauty.

Terraces and stone buildings spread out across a sun-drenched grassy plateau, protected by the iconic sugarloaf mountain known as Huayna Picchu. In the distance, the blue peaks of the Andes line the horizon. A faint mist floats above them, rising from the Amazon jungle that lies just beyond the mountains.

Even now, a century after Bingham's discovery, Machu Picchu remains a mystery. No one knows why the city existed where it did, although some historians suggest that it may have been some sort of religious or educational centre - a sort of Oxford in the Andes.

No one is certain, either, why its inhabitants disappeared. In the 15th century, 1,000 people lived in its 200 buildings; by the 16th, they had disappeared. Some historians believe they were driven out by disease or natural disaster. Whatever the cause, for five centuries only a handful of locals even knew of its existence.

What is certain is that Machu Picchu is a marvel of engineering ingenuity. Somehow the Incas transported heavy stone blocks up the mountainside, then used remarkable masonry skills to fit them together so perfectly they could withstand time, weather and even the onslaught of tourists.

Whatever its origins and purpose, there is no doubt that Machu Picchu is a remarkable site. Its setting is breathtakingly beautiful, and the abandoned buildings hauntingly poignant. But there is something more here, something indefinably spooky, even spiritual, that leaves no visitor untouched.

That may explain the reverent hush in the tea room at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge where we gather for coca tea and sandwiches after our explorations. That otherworldly mood lasts until the bus carries us back to the market in Aguas Calientes where we put our best haggling skills to the test, bargaining for bobbly alpaca hats and vividly coloured Peruvian shawls. And by the time we board the train back to Cusco, a festive mood has gripped the passengers.

We're greeted on board with a welcoming Pisco Sour, Peru's national cocktail of the local brandy called pisco, lemon, sugar, egg white and bitters, followed by a four-course Peruvian feast that includes a velvety spiced pumpkin cream soup, tender "salmon trout," and fine South American wines. And then it's off to the bar car for live music and one more round of Pisco Sours.

By the time we tumble off the train in Poroy, we're exhausted, happy and changed forever. We suspect Hiram Bingham would be jealous.

IF YOU GO:

Getting there: Air Canada offers a direct flight from Toronto to Lima every day except Sundays (www.air canada.com). Alternatively, you can hop aboard Continental Airlines in major Canadian cities and transfer to a Lima flight in Houston (www.continental.com).

From Lima, take a 90minute commuter flight on LAN or Peruvian Airlines (www.lan.com, www.peruvianairlines. pe) to Cusco, where you will board the train.

The Orient Express Hiram Bingham train, operated by PeruRail, departs daily except Sundays from the town of Poroy just outside Cusco. The trip costs about $350 per person one-way, or $600 round-trip, and includes gourmet meals, cocktails and wine, live entertainment, a ticket to the site, the services of a guide while you're there, and the afternoon buffet tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge (www.orient-express. com/web/hb/hiram_ bingham.jsp).

Staying there: The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, operated by the Orient Express, is the only hotel right at the heritage site, a tranquil spot with stunning views located just outside the gates (www. sanctuarylodgehotel. com).

In Cusco, the centrally located Libertador Palacio del Inka Hotel offers all the convenience of a modern hotel and all the charm of the historic mansion in which it is housed (www. libertador.com.pe).

Dining there: The Hiram Bingham train serves a gourmet brunch and dinner, and the ticket price includes afternoon tea in the Sanctuary Lodge.

In Cusco, Chicha Restaurant is Peruvian celebrity chef Gaston Acurio's terrific local outpost, a popular modern room that offers exceptional regional fare (www.chicha.com. pe). And be sure to visit El Pisquerito, one of Peru's top pisco bars (www.elpisquerito.com).

Breathing there: The biggest challenge for most visitors is altitude sickness. Machu Picchu is at an elevation of 2,430 metres; Cusco is even higher at 3,326 metres. The thin air can lead to crushing headaches, nausea, dizziness and even death.

Most hotels pump in oxygen, which helps, and so does drinking lots of water and taking time to acclimatize. The traditional local solution is chewing coca leaves or drinking the coca tea most hotels have on offer all day long.

Before you leave, ask your doctor about the drug acetazolamide, which is available for altitude sickness.

www.machupicchumagico.com

Machu Picchu restricted to 2500 visitors per day

(ANDINA). Peruvian authorities in Cusco said Wednesday that after reaching the maximum number of 2500 visitors per day, access to the famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu has been restricted to ensure its preservation.

“As an institution, we have internal and external standards to meet. These standards include the recommendations made by Unesco and the Master Plan of Machu Picchu which states that only 2500 people can enter the citadel per day,” said Julio Dueñas, head of Cusco’s Regional Directorate of Culture (DRC).

Dueñas suggested tourists get their tickets in advance via the online ticket system and avoid hiring informal tour operators.

Machu Picchu closed momentarily on Tuesday, July 19, and some 80 visitors, who were accompanied by informal tour guides, could not enter the archaeological site.

"They arrived in the town of Machu Picchu without their ticket. We have an office that sells tickets in this place only if there is enough space, but this wasn’t the case,” Dueñas told Andina.

"Another recommendation made by Unesco is that we can’t sell tickets at Machu Picchu’s entrance door. The office in the Machu Picchu town can only sell tickets for the citadel in contingency plans or if there is enough space,” he reiterated, recalling that this is the first time a situation such as this has happened.

Palccoyo: la otra cordillera de colores que te sorprenderá en Cusco

Vinicunca o la Montaña de 7 colores no es la única montaña de colores que puedes visitar en Cusco. A solo tres horas de la ciudad imperia...