At 11,400′, Cusco is one of the highest important cities anywhere. It is the archaeological capital of the Americas as well as being the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent. It is filled with religious wonders and historic sights. The Quechua meaning of the name is: “Rock of the Owl.”
Built in the time of Inca Pachacuti, in the 1440s, Sacsayhuamán hovers over the city of Cusco. It is the site of the last battle of the Incan empire when they suffered defeat at the hands of the Spaniards in 1536.
We stopped at the weaving center in Chinchero and continued on to the Inca ruins of Moray, a group of circular terraces believed to have been an agricultural center for research and improvement of crops to be used throughout the empire in different climate zones. We were in the shadow of the Cordillera Vilcabamba.
We trekked to a hillside of salt pans owned and operated communally by the people of the nearby village of Maras. We stayed in the Urubamba Valley at the Charming Sol y Luna.
Our drive to the start of the main trek in Cachora passed through Huarocondo, the ruins of Tarawasi in Limitambo, the vastness of the Apurimac River Gorge, the fascinating carved boulder Sahuite. In Cachora we picked up our 24 animals, two cooks, nine arrieros to compliment our three guides. We reached our first campground that evening.
This trek, in May 2008, was one of the best adventures of my life. It was utterly challenging, stunningly beautiful, isolated enough to really get a sense of the Inca life. Under the leadership of Clark Kotula, our excellent guide, we began in the Cachora campground and finished at Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu!!! This entire adventure began with Machu Picchu as the goal. And what an adventure it was. Our route was brilliant, no tourists until we got to Machu Picchu, day after day of stunning scenery, marvelous food, a perfectly paced and planned trip, wonderful companions.