Travel Information: Visit Machu Picchu
Travel information for those looking to travel to Machu Picchu, Peru. Includes a city guide to Lima, the Peruvian capital and visitor information on Machu Picchu.
A back-packers hangout it may be, but you dont have to slum it to explore the magical Inca ruins and interesting colonial cities of Peru. Nat Geo Adventurer Dave Durance takes us on a five-star tour of the most mystical country in Latin America.
After a fifteen hour flight to Lima, the capital of Peru, with nothing in the form of entertainment save for a poorly dubbed Argentinean film about death and an episode of Friends that Id seen a hundred times, and didnt find funny the first time, as you can imagine, I was in a really good mood.
But despite my exhaustion, I wasnt tired enough to succumb to the very real urge to simply hop into one of the cabs outside the airport and make for the hotel. I was warned before leaving London to be careful when getting a cab in Lima, and not to trust those touting for business outside the airport. So I got in line and waited, grumpily, for the official taxis to arrive.
Peru Travel Information - Lima City Guide
Despite holding the synonym City of Kings, Lima is a grey city. Due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the resultant sea-mist, the city always seems unbelievably grey. Lima Cathedral, originally built in 1535, in the Main Plaza, is a superb example of Roman Catholic colonial architecture. It is an impressive building, best viewed with a guide who can explain in more detail everything there is to see. The Convent within the Cathedral complex is well worth a visit, so too are the catacombs, which have as many as 200,000 human remains under the city, complete with big vats of skulls and bones, and weird bone displays.
By far the best museum in Lima is the amazing Enrico Poli Museum, which has one of the best private collections of archaeological artefacts in Peru, but can only be visited by appointment only. The museum is nothing more than the home of Enrico Poli, who runs and owns the museum, and he really is the original tomb raider! He has been in prison for his nefarious activities on more than one occasion, but I have to admit, he does have the most amazing household furniture and ornaments in the world; there is Inca gold everywhere! A tour costs £75, for a maximum of five people, but, unfortunately it is only in Spanish, but if you want to see Inca gold masks and other rare artefacts up close, then this is the best kept secret in all of Lima.
Travel in Peru: Cusco City Guide
From Lima I then travelled to Cusco, an hours flight away. Cusco is 11,500ft above sea level, so on arrival, it is important that you remain as active as a student on a Sunday morning; plan to do nothing for a day except drink water, until your body adjusts to the altitude. While Lima Cathedral was impressive, Cusco Cathedral is the most impressive building I`ve ever been in. It has as more gold, silver and paintings than you could ever imagine. It was the first cathedral to be built in Latin America, and in the upper box of the main altarpiece it is possible to view the Cross of the Conquest (Cruz de la Conquista), which brought to Cusco by father Fray Vicente de Valverde, who accompanied the conquistador Francisco Pizarro during the conquest of the Incas.
Sacsayhuaman (sexy woman) is a big Inca temple turned fortress on a mountain overlooking Cusco, which is an interesting place to visit, and has superb views of the city below. Cusco Square is the centre of the city and has a vast number of shops selling Alpaca clothing. Also, for the technologically minded it is a wifi point now too, apparently. Also in the centre there is an Inca Museum, which is well worth checking out for the scary looking mummies and deformed skulls.
Machu Picchu Travel Information
Cusco is also a popular base from which to explore renowned Machu Picchu. So, from Cusco I boarded the Hiram Bingham train (named after the man who discovered Machu Picchu in 1911), bound for Machu Picchu. The Hiram Bingham is a five star luxury train, which winds its way over the course of three hours, down from the mountains of Cusco into the jungle, which surrounds Macchu Picchu. My accommodation at Macchu Picchu was the Sanctuary Lodge, and it is the only hotel right at the entrance to the site. At night it is pitch black outside with no one around. Unsurprisingly for its fabulous location, the eco lodge is a five star hotel, which serves up superb food and also does a mean line in Perus national drink, Pisco Sour (Pisco and lemon).
Macchu Picchu is as you would imagine it to be: beautiful, awe-inspiring and magical, but to really appreciate it, get a guide so you know what you are gawping at. And, if the weather is suitable climb to the sun gate (intipunko), an hours walk above Machu Picchu, which offers the most amazing view of the ruins below on a clear day.
But if you enjoy Inca ruins and archaeological sites, a short day trip from Cusco, is one of the best. A trip into the Sacred Valley - Ollantaytambo is a trip like none other. Ollanyta was an Inca general, but Ollantaytambo is a magnificent Inca fortress on a hill. It is truly amazing how they managed to built it, and, for real Indiana-Jones style eeriness there is a face on the mountain opposite, which during the summer solstice is directly hit by the sun and beams light across the valley to a sacred temple down below. Totally awe-inspiring, like much of Peru, actually!
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