Inca Trail - Peru

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ClickPeru and the Inca Trail

 

It is a privilege to be given the opportunity to walk the Inca Tail to Machu Picchu. Only a limited number of permits are issued each year, and reservations need to be made well in advance.

   The trail climbs high into the Andes mountains, with stunning views on every hand. Campsites are located at strategic points, and the trail passes through diverse terrain with flowering orchids and other species – a photographer’s paradise. The ‘cloud-forests’ are also very special.

   We always recommend that our clients spend plenty of time above 3,353m before commencing the trail to ensure that altitude problems such as headaches, nausea and loss of appetite do not occur, and that everyone enjoys the experience of walking the trail to the full.

   A typical tour will commence with a flight to Arequipa (the second-largest city in Peru with its famous plaza, Ice-maiden Museum and Santa Catalina Convent) which lies above 2,300m. The next destination would be the Colca Canyon, involving crossing a high-altitude pass at 4,570m before descending to the valley on the other side of the Andes mountains! From there the group would travel to Lake Titicaca at 3,810m, where two night would be spent. The last port of call before starting the climb would be the ancient capital of the Incas, Cusco (3,350m), where a full two days can be spent.

   In the interests of seeing more of this beautiful country while we are there, however, certain optional add-ons are always possible, among them the Nazca Lines tour, and Sondoval Lake in the Amazon.

   The highlight of any trip to Peru is of course Machu Picchu – the Lost City of the Incas. One cannot help but marvel at the magic of this place – the sun temples, the water fountains, the craftsmanship of the ancient stone masons who caved a whole city out of granite (some stones weighing up to 10 tons) without steel tools or the use of the wheel, high on a ridge overlooking a deep gorge! It is true that one cannot fit a knife-blade between the joints of the granite blocks (so perfectly do they fit!), and that one sizable bolder has 36 facets, each facet fitting perfectly into an adjoining stone!

   By far the most exciting way of approaching Machu Picchu is, of course, on foot - walking the ancient highway of the Incas along paved stones, and up and down stone stairs! However, for those who want the experience of visiting Peru but who are not serious walkers, there is always the ‘alternative to the Inca Trail’. While some members of the party are hiking, others can spend time in the Sacred Valley of the Incas visiting archaeological sites and enjoying comfortable overnight accommodation in lodges - meeting up with the rest of the group eventually at Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu.

   We do all our trips in style – making use of domestic flights and luxury air-conditioned coaches whenever possible, staying in excellent hotels, and eating out at some of the best restaurants in Latin America. The itinerary is carefully crafted allowing time for shopping – for visits to the country’s colourful country markets, and for interacting with Peru’s friendly indigenous population.

   On the Inca Trail itself, we enjoy the services of an excellent support team. Spacious two-person tents are provided, together with a dining tent and a portable toilet. Oxygen is available for those who might need it; and the trek is led by an experienced English-speaking guide who knows the area like the back of his hand, and who is able to explain the history and significance of the trail, and the ruins encountered along the way. All camp chores, like setting up of tents, are attended to by the porters, and the food is prepared by an expert cook.

   Peru is one of the most beautiful countries in the world to visit, offering a great variety of scenery and experiences: visits to ancient Inca temples, Spanish cathedrals, museums, colourful markets, mountain parks and archaeological sites.

   Machu Picchu itself has been voted one of the 10 most significant places on earth to see before you die!

   We do our trips through Amazonas Explorer, one of South America’s leading tour service-providers. Meticulous in every way, reliable and honourable, they are a great company to work with!

 

ClickBook a Tour

 

We receive more enquiries about Peru than any other destination on our tour list. This is due partly to the fact that Peru is such a fascinating country to visit (the Inca Trail being one of the most stunning hiking trails on earth), and partly because very few tour companies in South Africa seem to offer this destination.  

   For this reason we regularly customize tours for individuals, couples or small groups, with dates and itineraries of their own choice; or invite people to join one of our organized tours.   

   Our next set tour, open for anyone to join, is scheduled for September 2010. Here are the basic details:

    Dates: Wednesday, 15th September, to Saturday, 2nd October 2010.
    Group Leader: Malcolm Pearse
    Detailed Itinerary and Costing: available upon request - with the click of a mouse, we can send you all you would need to know.

Click on address to access e-mailEnquiries: summitventures@mweb.co.za

 

ClickPlaces of interest

 

Peru has an enormous variety of climatic zones, landscapes and ecosystems, placing it among the top five countries in the world for the ‘greatest biological diversity’. Indeed, it is said that no other place on earth has such a proliferation of natural wonders – from the pristine snow-capped peaks of the Andes, to palm-fringed tropical beaches of the Pacific coastline, where sea birds abound; from the arid desert landscapes of the western lowlands, to Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake of earth, famous for its incredibly transparent waters and its 40 floating reed islands where communities have lived for centuries), to the azure lagoons deep in the Amazon rainforest, teeming with wild parrots and reptiles.

   Add to this the country’s rich archaeological heritage, its unique culture, and friendly people, and you can understand why Peru is one of the most sought after holiday destinations on earth. Man-made wonders from ancient civilisations include Machu Picchu: the Lost City of the Incas; the tombs of ancient warlords which are as opulent as those found in ancient Egypt; the stone-paved fortresses of the ‘Sacred Valley’, and the monumental citadels of Cusco and Arequipa.

   Peru is made up of three natural regions, which run roughly north to south. First, there is the coastal strip with its arid, desert-like landscape; then the highlands which contain the snow-capped Andes Mountains (the second-highest and longest mountain rage on earth), and finally the densely forested Peruvian Amazon Basin which was seldom visited and largely uncharted until 1973. The Amazon River originates in Peru. It is home to over 2000 species of fish, 4000 different types of birds and 60 kinds of reptiles as well as native mammals such as the puma, and the pink porpoise. The Amazon is 40 miles across at the point where it enters the sea – in fact, ocean-going vessels can sail 2300 miles up the river to Quito’s, the country’s main port on the Upper Amazon.

    During your trip, you will visit most of the country’s premier ‘places of interest’. The highlight of the tour will be the Inca Trail with a guided tour of the Lost City, followed by free time to roam, contemplate and explore at will.

 

LIMA

Known as the City of Kings, Lima has been one of the most important centres in South America since it was founded by the seafaring Spaniards in 1535, and remained the capital of their South American Empire until Peru gained independence in 1821.

   This historic capital abounds with colonial buildings, museums, monuments, colourful markets, and elegant shady plazas. The Spanish left a rich legacy there, evident in many baroque cathedrals and cloistered monasteries, but especially in the city’s newly restored Historical Centre, designed by UNESCO as part of the world’s cultural heritage.

   Lima’s famous Gold Museum houses a collection of gold and jewels from ancient times. Also located here are an interesting Arms Museum, which contains pieces dating as far back as the 16th Century; and the Museum of the Inquisition.

   Lima is the capital of present-day Peru – a beautiful city to be explored at leisure!

 

AREQUIPA

Arequipa, carved largely from the white volcanic solar stone, is Peru’s second largest city with a population topping one million. Founded by the Spanish Conquerors in 1540, the city is dwarfed by three soaring, snow-capped volcanoes: El Misty, Clachan and Picchu. With its superb churches, restored colonial mansions and remarkable Santa Catalina Convent – a vast, sprawling complex of beautiful buildings and cobblestone streets founded in 1579 and only opened to the public since 1970 after 300 years of seclusion and mystery – Arequipa is a beautiful city to explore. The narrow streets, shady patios and well-preserved frescoes of the Convent are an eloquent throw-back to southern Spain.

    One of the main reasons for visiting Arequipa is its food! The city is filled with modest eateries known as pedantries. Stuffed rococo chill pepper, fried cheese, roast Malaya beef, seared guinea pig and mouth-watering giant river shrimp are some of the dishes prepared with local seasoning. Standard drinking fare is chichi, the fermented maize beer, while the city even has its own lager, Arequipa.

    Despite the onslaught of modern life, Arequipa still gives the impression of a neat, quiet little sierra town. It has been described as a “haven of tranquillity and age-old traditions, spicy cuisine and heart-wrenching music.” It is from here that we travel by coach to the Colca Canyon.

 

COLCA CANYON

The Colca Canyon is a region of smoking volcanoes high in the Andes, spouting geysers and bubbling hot springs – an area of wild, untamed beauty and teeming with unique animal and plant life. Vicunas, guanacos, deer and vacate rodents dart over the hillsides, while majestic condors (the world’s largest flying bird) wheel high above the deepest defile in the earth’s crust, born aloft by updrafts within the narrow walls of the canyon. The Colca is riddled with mirror-like pools which are visited by migrating bird species – flamingos, Black-faced Andean Gulls and marine birds like Ahoy and Halite ducks.

    What has made the Colca unique from a human point of view, however, is the fact that the ancient Colleague and Cabana cultures seemed to have had a staggering knowledge of agrarian and hydraulic sciences – carving the valleys into countless rows of agricultural terracing lined with stone canals, many of which still function today.

    The lodge we occupy is set in the heart of this amazing scenery, alongside a natural spar, where patrons can relax in the evenings in the bubbling thermal pools.

 

CUSCO

The legendary city of Cusco was the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. With elaborate baroque churches, beautiful colonial architecture constructed on perfect Inca stonework foundations and narrow cobbled streets, the city is an explorers’ paradise. There are a great number of colourful markets, shops and museums to keep the visitor busy.

    The evenings are renowned for their lively revelry, with a wide range of enticing restaurants, both local and international, to try. You will have plenty of time to explore Casco’s treasures, and to visit some of the outlying archaeological sites. A day tour to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and to the famous market town of Pisa, where there is great souvenir shopping, is also possible.

    The city, with a population of nearly a million people, is a mixture of Inca and Spanish architecture, overlooked by the imposing fortress of Sacsayhuaman.

 

AMAZON – SANDOVAL LAKE

Sandoval Lake Lodge is located in the heart of the Candamo-Tambopata reserve, in the upper reaches of the Amazon basin of Southern Peru. The ox-bow lake is a haven for wildlife and rain-forest species. The lodge situated on its bank is a luxurious way to experience the rainforest at its best. The whole complex is housed in one structure. It boasts twenty-five double occupancy rooms, hot showers, and a spacious dining room overlooking the lake.

    In a short space of time we travel by canoe and on foot observing the flora and fauna of the world’s largest rainforest along with an explanation of this delicate ecosystem by a local guide. There is a chance to spot many bird species, visit a jungle farm, find medicinal plants, and search for alligators (known locally as caiman), before returning to Cusco.

 

LAKE TITICACA

Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world navigable by large vessels, and legendary birthplace of the Inca civilisation, lies at 3,810m (12,500 feet) above sea level in the Andes mountains astride the border between Peru and Bolivia. It is so high above sea level that the inhabitants of the region actually differ physically from people living at lower altitudes. It covers 8,301 square kilometres), is 80 kilometres across at its widest point, and 190 kilometres long.

    Lake Titicaca (the name is uncertain) averages 328 feet in depth, but reaches its greatest extent of 913 feet (281 metres) near the Bolivian shore off Isla Soto in the northeast corner of the lake. It is fed by rainfall and melt-water from glaciers on some of the highest peaks in the Andes, which rise to heights in excess of 6,400m.

    More than 25 rivers empty their waters into Titicaca, but there is only one small outlet which releases less than 5 percent of the lake’s intake – the rest being lost through evaporation under the fierce sun and strong winds of the high-altitude plateau.

    The shoreline is dotted with settlements, as are most of the islands in the lake. An Indian people, the Uros, dwell on the lake itself: they live on reed rafts constructed of totora, a reed-like papyrus that grows in the shallows. Clinging to an ancient way of life, they depend until recently on the lake for fish.

    Aymara Indians have dwelt on the shores of Titicaca lakeside since before recorded history. They are short, dark, and barrel-chested, have been the subjects of medical research because of their extraordinary adaptation to high-altitude living. Studies show their hearts, lungs, and spleens are larger than those of men who live at sea level, while their bone marrow manufactures many more red corpuscles to capture oxygen molecules from the rarefied air.   

    The Aymara still practice their ancient methods of agriculture on stepped terraces that predate Inca times. They grow barley and the potatoes. The highest cultivated plot in the world was found near Lake Titicaca – a field of barley growing at a height of 15,420 feet above sea level. At this height the grain never ripens, but the stalks furnish forage for llamas and alpacas, a relative of the camel that serve the Indians as beasts of burden and as a source of meat.

    Lake Titicaca has always been an important commercial waterway, with steamers plying its waters. In 1862 the first steamer to operate on the lake was prefabricated in England and carried in pieces on mule-back up to the lake.

 

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