We were at the penultimate leg of the main attraction for our entire trip. Cusco is the city where tour operators pick up clients when starting on the inca trail to Machu pitchu. It is also a good place to aclimatise for the journey as the town sits at 3300m above sea level.
We checked in for our tour and got the briefing for what the next few days of trekking would entail. Needless to say that we were excited! Walking the inca trail has been a bucket list item for us since we started travelling as it combines our 2 favourite loves of hiking and history.
After checking in we had a full day in Cusco to see the town and explore all it’s weird and wacky customs. We did the free walking tour of downtown Cusco and discovered a lot of the historical significance of the town. Cusco was the centre of the Incan empire which ruled the western border of South America, starting off in Peru and expanding north and into Venezuela and south into Bolivia, Argentina and Chile. It ruled from 1400’s until 1500’s when it was defeated by the Spanish Inquisition which had superior armoury and also brought diseases, particularly smallpox.
After the history lesson we were taken to the San Pedro market which reminded us of a more organised version of Ben Thanh Market in Vietnam and was designed by the French architect who designed the Eiffel tower in Paris. It sold unique items ranging from normal food items and juices to cow snouts and alpaca feotuses. It even included a woman introduced to us by our tour guide as the “frog killer lady”. It was quite andl experience and luckily for us the market had just undergone a 7 day clean out as it was rat infested and appallingly smelly.
We were then taken to the palace of the old Incan royal family who would live in buildings built up 7m above the ground. He demonstrated the ingenuity of the Incan people who would chisel strategic small holes into stone then placed dry wood sticks into the holes and left alone. As the sticks got wet, they expanded and would crack the stone in a straight line. They would then build their walls on an acute angle so that it would be resistant to earthquake as Peru was situated between tectonic plates.
The day was beautiful and we got a good overview of the city however our mind was fixated on the next upcoming adventure – the Inca trail.
Till next time
Jason and Ann