I woke up this morning feeling just brand new after having had a very restful sleep. After a delicious breakfast at the hotel's dinning lounge, Ali, our guide, met us in the lounge for our tour around Cusco, Cusco, the colourful city, the city which once was the centre of the Inca Empire, the city with endless landscapes, the city with a diversity of customs and traditions!
We began our tour with a visit to the impressive Colonial Cathedral in Cusco in which we followed Ali inside the church. A wealth of statues, paintings, crucifixes, etc.. were all over the place. Fresh flowers, brought daily by the locals, were placed in beautiful vases near the paintings of the Saints. The beauty and richness of everything seen was quite incredible.
This was followed by a visit to the Temple of the Sun - the Korikancha . The beautiful flower gardens decorated the landscape and made the place quite lovely as well as the panoramic views of the town which could be seen from the balconies.
From here, we were led to the outskirts of Cusco for a tour of the archaeological site of Sacsayhuaman. As Ali explained, the site was one of the Incas most amazing construction with the name translating to "satisfied falcon" and the meaning being that the falcon guarded the capital of the empire, being Cusco and Sacsayhuaman, being the head. The construction of Sacsayhuaman took over seven decades and required the work of 20,000 men for the foundations and stone work, the transportation of materials, carving and the stones setting. The stones making out this archaeological site where quite HUGE. Its amazing how they were all put together perfectly. Some of the external walls exceeded 9 meters in height and 350 tons of weight. It was quite a spectacular fortress!
In Sacsayhuaman, some locals, all nicely dressed in their colourful cultural clothing, were selling souvenirs or having their pictures taken with the tourists. From the top of the hill, an incredible panoramic view of the entire Cusco town below could be seen. It was quite impressive. We could see far, far away, the Plaza del Armaz and all of the surrounding houses and mountains. VIVA el PERU, in big huge letters, was painted on the side of a mountain.
Afterwards, we made our way to Kenko by asphalted road where two archaeological sites were located near the road and on the hillside. As Ali explained, these were worship places believed to be of the land. A little girl all dressed up in her Peruvian traditional dress was standing near the site with her llama close by. She only spoke Espanol but that was fine with me after all, mi hablo un poquito Espanol, si senorita! Behind her, the richly green coloured valleys were extending endlessly. The view was SPECTACULAR! In between mountains, I could see far, far, far away the endless valleys while the puffy white clouds ornamented the incredible blue sky. Being so high in the mountains, the clouds gave you the illusion of touching the landscape. What a beautiful panoramic view! This moment in time
will always be imprinted in my mind!
We then visited Tambomachay or "baths of the Incas". The archaeological site, being located 8km northeast of Cusco, was one favorite place of the Incas which was used as a resting area having an extraordinary water system carved in the rocks. The views of the surrounding areas were absolutely breathtaking. Locals were on site selling lovely sweaters made out of llama's wool. One was purchased making the Senora quite happy.
After having visited and enjoyed all of the little villages surrounding Cusco, each one having its own unique charm and characteristic, Carlos, our devoted driver drove us all back to the hotel. What an incredible five hours tour we had just completed with Ali. Cusco offered so many lovely places to visit, things to do, traditions to see and cultures to talk about.
Once back at the Novotel, we invited Ali and Carlos to join us for lunch at one of the hotel's restaurant. Unfortunately, Carlos could not join us. However, the three of us all had a very delicious lunch in which we went down memory lane talking about the last six days, the last six days in which we had an incredible journey and adventure, in which we had the time of our lives, in which we now had a wealth of knowledge and achievements accomplished and in which, but most of all, we now had extremely fond memories of.
It was also, time to say our goodbyes to Ali, our private guide, our resourceful guide, our translator and most of all, our brand new Peruvian Friend! Ali, the Great, as he would call himself, as for me, I called him Ali Baba! :-)
Thankful for having had Ali as our private guide!