Machu Picchu drawing

In June / July 1997 I went to South America for the second time, doing a 29 day trip in Peru and Bolivia with The Trekking Company, who are based in Canberra. The first two weeks of the trip was spent sightseeing around Cuzco, Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and La Paz. We then flew to Lima and drove north into the Andes to do an 11 day trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash, a remote and spectacular mountain range, before returning to Australia via Buenos Aires. A selection of photographs from this trip is contained below. Click on the thumbnails to see larger images:

to go to my Cordillera Huayhuash photographs page.

View of Cuzco
View of Cuzco. After flying from Sydney to Buenos Aires, we flew north to Peru and spent a few days in Cuzco, the old capital of the Inca empire. This town is situated at the end of a long valley at 3500m altitude in the southern Andes of Peru. The town is touristy but has excellent shopping and plenty of sights to see, including Inca ruins and Spanish colonial architecture. Wandering the streets one can see the excellent stonework from the remains of Inca buildings.

Sacsayhuaman. This impressive Inca construction sits on a hill overlooking Cuzco and is dominated by a three tiered zig-zag wall about 700 metres long built from huge stones, one of which is around 300 tonnes. The stones fit together perfectly and are an amazing sight. The buildings and towers that were originally on the hill protected by the wall have long since disappeared, but their foundations remain.

Inti Raymi Festival Inti Raymi festival. On 24 June the Inti Raymi festival is performed in Cuzco. The Incas worshipped the sun, and the winter solstice was an important occasion that heralded the return of the sun and longer days. This festival recreates the ceremonies that were held by the Incas on the winter solstice. The ceremony is conducted partly in Cuzco and partly at Sacsayhuaman, lasts most of the day and attracts tens of thousands of spectators.

Inca on litter The Inca being carried on a litter by his subjects at the conclusion of the Inti Raymi ceremony. The ceremony is now basically a theatre play and helps promote cultural values and pride among the local Andean people.

Machu Picchu Machu Picchu. From Cuzco we took a three hour rail journey into the Urubamba Valley to Machu Picchu. The terrain is very steep in this area and the lush vegetation is in contrast to the barren hills around Cuzco. From the train station at the bottom of the valley a fleet of buses takes tourists 600 metres up the winding Hiram Bingham highway to the Inca ruins - one of the wonders of South America. The ruins are fantastic but it is the location and surrounding landscape which is the most impressive feature.

View from Huayna Picchu Machu Picchu ruins from the top of Huayna Picchu peak. We spent seven hours at the ruins, the highlight of which was the climb to the top of Huayna Picchu peak overlooking the ruins. The climb took one hour up a steep trail. From the top there were excellent views of the ruins below, the Urubamba River which winds in a big loop around the base of the mountain, and a 360 degree panorama of the surrounding Cordillera Vilcabamba.

Train at La Raya pass From Cuzco we took an eleven hour rail journey to Puno, situated at the northern end of Lake Titicaca. The route initially passes through a picturesque, winding river valley with villages and cultivation, then the landscape opens out and the railway line climbs past snow peaks to La Raya pass (4500m) - one of the highest rail lines in the world.

Sillustani Sillustani. Close to Puno is a burial ground used by the Incas and other earlier civilisations from this area. Burial towers of various shapes and sizes dominate the area. Close by is Lago Umayo.

Floating Uros Islands The floating islands of the Uros Indians. We took a 30 minute boat ride from Puno out to the floating islands situated amongst the reed beds in the shallow waters of Lake Titicaca. These islands are constructed from tortora reeds, as are the houses and boats. The island is about a metre thick and needs to be continually maintained as the reeds below the surface rot. The Indians make souveniers and handicrafts to sell to the tourists who visit the island.

Walking on Island of the Sun Island of the Sun - Lake Titicaca. From Puno we drove around the southern shore of Lake Titicaca and crossed over the border into Bolivia. We took a two hour boat ride from Copacabana out to the Island of the Sun, where we stayed overnight in a quiet village with the local inhabitants. The island is the legendary home of the Incas. There are many walks on the island past farms and agricultural terracing to ruins from the Tiwanacu and Inca periods.

Copacabana & Lake Titicaca View of Copacabana township and Lake Titicaca. Copacabana is a religious centre situated on the Bolivian shore of the lake and is dominated by a large church built by the Spanish in the 1600's. From Copacabana we drove to La Paz, via the Straits of Taquina. Among the sights on this road journey were the many eucalypt trees, the barren altiplano, and the snow peaks of the Cordillera Real.

La Paz & Mt Illumani La Paz. The Bolivian capital is the highest capital city in the world, situated in a canyon below the altiplano and Mt Illumani. The lower parts of the city are at 3000m altitude, while the airport and the sprawling shantytowns on the altiplano are over 4000m in altitude. We spent a day in this fascinating city sightseeing and shopping around the many markets.

Jirishanca Click on the photo to go to another page with my photographs of the Cordillera Huayhuash Trek. From La Paz we flew to Lima then spent seven hours driving up the barren Peruvian coast and into the mountains to the town of Chiquian, where our trek started. The Cordillera Huayhuash trek is one of the most spectacular mountain circuits in the world and is situated just south of the Cordillera Blanca. It is a region of snow capped peaks, glacial lakes, grassy valleys and remote settlements and is dominated by Yerupaja, the second highest peak in Peru.

9 July Avenue The Obelisk & 9th of July Avenue - Buenos Aires. From Peru we flew south to Buenos Aires where we spent a day shopping and looking around the plazas and streets of the downtown area. This avenue is the widest street in the world and is a pedestrian's nightmare. The city has a great atmosphere with its restaurants, shops and outdoor cafes. From here we flew back to Australia via Rio Gallegos and Auckland.

Contact "alanlevy at pcug dot org dot au" for more information.

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Related Links: [South American Explorer's Club] [Peru Explorer] [Andean Links] [Machu Picchu Photographs] [Useful South American Links]

Page last modified on Monday 6 January 2014