When we think of our recent adventure to Peru with 34 enthusiastic and intrepid travellers, the word contrast comes to mind. We began our trip in the crowded, traffic congested city of Lima - a city that never seems to sleep. Here we learned the history of ancient civilizations in Peru, pre-Inca time, through their pottery, jewelry, weapons, and mummies at the Larco Herrera Museum. Our guide also gave a detailed explanation of Peru’s present day political situation.
When we flew to Cusco and on to the Sacred Valley, we learned the history of the Incan civilization and its many accomplishments. Although the Incan people had no written language, they kept detailed records of crops, animals, etc. on ancient “early computers” called quipus through a series of coloured strings and knots. They built a vast network of roads on which highly skilled runners ran a designated distance and passed messages on to the next runner. Their building techniques were outstanding. They used trapezoid shaped windows and doors to help withstand earthquakes. Their masonry building techniques were so refined that it is impossible, today, to place a piece of paper between two blocks of stone in the ruins of important Inca temples. Many of today’s churches in Peru are built on ancient Inca temple sites. They built amazing structures, cities and temples such as Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, and Sacsayhuaman in Cusco, all of which we had the privilege to visit and explore.
We saw evidence of the Inca’s vast knowledge of agriculture. There are many terraces on the mountain sides of the Sacred Valley and the Colca Valley still being farmed today. In the highlands at Moray we visited the circular terraces where the Incas experimented with various crops at different elevations to find the best growing conditions. We also saw the ancient “salt pans” of Maras where even today the locals extract salt for sale.
Our stay in Puno on Lake Titicaca again showed us the contrast between two types of native people, how they lived in ancient times, as well as the way they still live today. On the reed islands of Uros we were welcomed by a group of people who build their islands, homes, and boats using reeds from the lake. We were invited into their simple homes, shown how they live their daily lives, and were offered rides on their reed boats.
On Taquile Island we met another group of people who subsist on farming using ancient tools, and fishing. The men knit and the women weave and sell their beautiful handiwork to the tourists who visit them. We learned the significance of knitted hats and belts, long hair, shawls with tassels, etc. in their daily way of life.
Our bus ride from Puno to the Colca Valley and Arequipa took us on winding, steep mountain roads. We passed through a heavy snow storm at 14,800 plus feet. We continued to a height of 16,000 feet before descending into the spectacular Colca Valley. Here we visited towns and local markets and were impressed by how many of the locals still dress in their colourful clothing. We watched for condors at Condor Cross.
Our final area of exploration was around Paracas, 267 km south of Lima, on the Pacific Ocean. Our boat trip out to the Ballestas Islands in the Pacific gave us the opportunity to see many kinds of birds and sea creatures.
We flew over the Nasca Lines, ancient trapezoidal lines and figures etched into the surface of the dessert. These lines and shapes can only be seen when flying in a plane. The origin, age, and purpose of these lines have not as yet been determined, although there is a great deal of speculation.
From the plane we could also see how essential water is to all aspects of life in the dessert. Agriculture is only possible where there is water and irrigation. High dunes of sand stretch for miles in this arid dessert.
On our trip, we travelled extensively by buses, vans, trains, planes and a boat. We saw magnificent churches with altars of gold and silver. We also visited a colonial home which has been in the same family for 17 generations and is still in use. We passed through a great range of altitudes from sea level to 16,000 feet. We celebrated and cheered with Peruvians when Peru won the chance to go to the World Cup Soccer Championships in 2018. We were fascinated by all the beautiful faces of the wonderful people of Peru. It was an experience which we will always remember.
Join the next exciting journey to the Land of the Incas! November 2 - 17, 2018