Machu Picchu and Amazon, May 2014 

By Henry Doenlen

Machu Picchu was on Liz's bucket list. With a lot of research on Trip Advisor, Liz found the Cultural Immersion people based in Cusco.


5/24/15  Off to Peru

We all flew to Miami, Will from San Francisco, Chris and Emily from Washington, DC, and Liz and Henry from Pensacola. That evening, we then flew to Lima, Peru.  We were taken to the Runcu Hotel, where we stayed the night. The following morning, we returned to the airport and  flew to Cusco. 


At Cusco airport, we were met by Chino, our tour guide from Cultural Immersions. Chino had been a history major.  Saving Cusco for last (when we were more used to the 11,000 foot  altitude), we were taken down the road to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

5/25/14: Animal Shelter

Along the way, we visited an animal rescue sanctuary. There, we saw a puma, alpaca, lama, and other animals and birds. We watched a woman making a blanket.


5/25/16: Pisaq

Arriving in Pisaq, we visited the Inca ruins. We then shopped in the Pisaq marketplace where local crafts were sold. Liz bought a hat for her mother. That night, we stated at the Pakcaritampu Hotel (elevation 9500.)


5/26/14: Chinchero


We drove to the town of Chinchero, where there were terraces and ruins of an Inca town. The San Francisco Church was at the top of the hill, built the the rocks from the ruins of the Inca town. We visited the local weavers. They showed us how they made the dye for the yarn.  We learned that the hats worn by the women were unique to each town, and the hats indicated the woman's marital status. We fed the guinea pigs (cuy in Spanish) and bought a weaving from the woman.


5/26/14: Moray Terraces


We then drove to the Moray Terraces. The use of terraces resulted in 24 micro climates, that the Incas used to acclimate plants and trees from the Amazon to the mountain climate of the Andes.


5/26/14: Moras Village Lunch

Lunch was arranged at a home in the Moras village, and we had the opportunity to eat local food. We listened to and danced to the man's guitar.


5/26/14: Maras Salt Mines


After lunch, we drove to the Maras Salt Mines. A salty stream from a mountain side was channeled into numerous evaporation pools. Local people were harvesting salt from the pools.


5/26/14: Chicha


 On the way to Oilantaytambo, we stopped at a home were chicha was made. Chicha as a weakly alcoholic drink made from fermented home. In homes were chicha was available, a red flag was raised outside of the home. A non-alcoholic drink, chicha morada, was a purple color, was made boiled purple corn with pineapple rind, cinnamon, clove, lemon, and sugar.


5/26/16: Ollantaytambo


It was dusk when we arrived at the Oilantaytambo ruins. At 7 pm, we boarded the train to Aqual Calientes (6500 feet altitude), where we stayed at the Sumaq Hotel.


5/27/16: Machu Picchu

From Aquas Calientes, we took a 30 minute bus ride up the winding road to the entrance of Machu Pichu. We checked out the Temple of the Three Windos and walked through the Plaza Principal and arrived at the entrance to the trail to Waynapicchu.  While Chris, Emily, and Will climbed to the top of Waynapiccu, Liz and Harry explored, seeing the random llamas that were grazing. After Chris, Emily, and Will returned, our guide took us to the Temple of the Condor and the Temple of the Sun. Liz and Harry looked at the Astronomical Observatory with the broken sundial, then climbed up the steps of the east agricultural terraces to reach the guard house. There, we could take the classic photo of Machu Picchu.


5/27/16: Aquas Calientes

We rode the bus back down the winding road, and then ate dinner in Aquas Calientes. This was followed by a 3 hour train ride back to Cusco, but the train broke down for 2 additional hours along the way. While we waited for an engine, Chris and Will engaged in an exciting harm wrestling match.


5/28/14:  Sacsayhuaman

It was difficult staying the night at the Hotel Muray Wasi  due to the 11500 foot altitude. They provided cocoa leaves to chew or make a tea, to relieve the altitude sickness. The following morning, we explored the Sacsayhuaman (which our guide said sounded like, "sexy woman.")  This was an Inca religious ceremonial site and included an observatory. There was a panoramic view of  the town below.


5/28/14: San Pedro Market

Our guide took us to the San Pedro Market. There was a natural healer who made a tea for Liz to help with her GI symptoms (which went away as soon as we left the mountain elevation). We ate bread and drank smoothies. Chris, Emily, and Will ate pickled quail eggs out of a barrel.


5/28/14: Qoricancha

We then visited the Cusco Cathedral. Inside, there was a painting of the last supper which featured local foods, such as guinea pigs. We visited the Temple of the Sun, which ended our tour with Cultural Immersions.


5/28/14: Centro Artesanal Market


Liz and Harry walked to the Centro Artesanal Market, which was dense with numerous little shops selling local crafts. We bought several gifts for the folks at home.


5/28/14: Dinner


Our guide recommended that we eat guinea pig for dinner. We had other food of course, and enjoyed an Inca presentation.



5/29/14: River


Liz and Harry flew from Cusco to Peurto Maldonado to visit the Peruvian Amazon while the Christ, Emily, and Will returned to Lima to explore the city on their own. From the Peuto Maldondo airport, we were taken to the Refugio Amazonas base to drop off luggage, then to the Tambopata River Port. We motored up the river on narrow skiffs, and were given a lunch of rice and vegetables cooked in a banana leaf;. On the trip, we was the Caiman (white alligator)  and turtles We also stopped to register at the preserve entrance. After a 2 1/2 hour trip up the river, we arrived at the Amazonas Refugio lodge.


5/29/14: Refugio Amazonas

We arrived at Refugio Amazona, hearing the Weaver birds. Our rooms were open to the rainforest, and we slept under mosquito netting. Boots were supplied to navigate the muddy trails.


5/29/14: Rainforest Night


We took a nature walk at night. On that walk, we saw black scorpion, chicken spider, tree frogs, walking stick insect, katydid, and jumping spiders.


5/30/14: Oxbow Lake


The following day, we walked to Oxbow Lake. We rowed around the lake, and walked to the kapok tree on the other side. We saw chicken birds,which are known as stinky birds. They mate for life. We saw the iron tree and the kapok tree. The kapok tree is the largest tree and oldest trees, it was believed that spirit off the forest lives in this tree, so hugging the kapok tree could bring positive energy. We saw the king bird, vulture, bat falcon, yellow jacket wasps, cross spider, chicken spider, jumping spider, and millipede. :We learned that the army ant bite was used as a stitch for cuts. We watched long columns of leave cutter ants bring leaves to their large nest. The leaf cutter nest that we saw was 7 years old. The queen stayed below ground. There were several types of leaf cutter ants including soldiers, worker, gardeners', and kamikaze (which stayed on top of the leaf being carried for predators). We also walked on a trail learning about the Amazon's plants that could be used for medicine.


5/30/14: Harpy Eagle Nest and Caiman Cruise


In the late afternoon, we walked to the Harpy Eagle Nest and were reward in seeing the Harpy Eagle and a chick. They raise 1 chick every tow to three years, and build nests in the kapok tree. We sat in an blind, but did not see any wildlife there. That evening, we rode the skiff on the water looking for the Caimen.


5/31/14: Return


We returned by skiff for a 2 hour trip down the river, then drove back to the airport for the flight to Lima. We visited family friends, then returned back to Miami on a red eye flight.