Approaching three-quarters of a century in age, my bucket list is very short.  I have been blessed to see and know much of the world.  At the top of my list, however, remained Machu Picchu, truly one of the Wonders of the World, and in June, 2015, I tackled it and many of Peru's sights.  It was the trip of a lifetime and I fell in love with Peru -- the beauty, the history, the cuisine, the people, the hospitality -- and could easily consider living there except for the winter climate.  It was frequently below freezing during our July trip.  Our summer is their winter and, unfortunately, it is the best time to visit Machu Picchu due to the rains. Peru has so much to offer; check the places we visited below. 
 

LIMA
The conquest of Peru closely mirrored the Conquest of Mexico and the Spanish influence made us feel right at home.  Lima has more than eight million residents but retains much of its history.  We had an excellent walking tour around the historic Centro.  The Larco Museum has the largest collection of gold, silver, and other artifacts of the Incas.


Lima's Cathedral where the conquestador Francisco Pizzaro is buried.

To see some of the incredible Inca gold and other
treasures, visit the Larco Museum.

Guards goose-step at the National Palace.

Lima is a city of beautiful balconies.

Old mansions have been beautifully restored.
 

OLLANTAYTAMBO
We found Ollantaytambo's Inca ruins to be well worth seeing.  Plus the altitude is 9,200 feet, a better place to aclimate for Machu Picchu than Cusco at 11,150 feet.  Our lovely hotel room had a vista of the snow-capped Andes and a stream running beneath our window.  We stayed there two days and visited other sites in the Sacred Valley.


View from our bedroom.

The terraced ruins are not to be missed.

The stones are joined with hair width percesion.

A young llama herder plays on the mountain top.


An outline of the Andian cross (shown on my medallion)
can be found on the wall of the Temple of the Sun.
 

MACHU PICCHU
From Ollantaytambo, we took a 1 1/2 hour Vistadome train to Aguas Caliente then a 25 minute bus ride to the base of Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was never discovered by the conquestadores due to its high mountain location.  The altitude, 7900 feet, is lower than Ollan and Cusco's altitude so we had no problems breathing.  It is simply spectacular.


You have to see it!

The Temple of the Sun

Terraces cascade down to the river.

Despite centuries and earthquakes, the ruins are fine.

We made it!!!
 

CUSCO
I thought Cusco was just a stopping point on the way to Machu Picchu, but it is a beautiful city with great restaurants, museums, and many remenants of the Inca Empire.  We enjoyed our time there.  The altitude is 11,150 feet but we were ready for it.  It is not the best place to prepare for a trip to Machu Picchu but don't miss it.


Cusco's Zocalo is beautiful.

The black base was the Temple of the Sun.

Our family with our new found Peruvian friends.

Statue of Pachacuti, an Incan emperor.

Another great Peruvian meal.
 

MANU, HEADWATER OF THE AMAZON
We left Cusco at 5 am and traveled over the Andes in a mini-van into the rain forest jungle which is the headwater of the Amazon.  It was a four day safari with much time traveling but interesting stops all along the way.


Rain forest with endless gravel roads.

Bambu Lodge, our first stop.

Glacial, icy, turquoise water leads to our jungle lodge.

Prehistoric birds.

One of many exotic birds we saw.

PUNO AND LAKE TITICACA
After a six hour bus ride which took us through snow covered passes, we reached Puno on the shore of Lake Titicaca.  The lake is the highest navigable lake in the world.  The altitude, 12,500 feet, slowed us down a bit.  We were able to visit a couple of the islands and the weather was sunny.


Vendors and photo opportunities abound.

Uros floating islands are man-made out of reeds.

Boats are also woven of reeds.


A visit to Taquile Island revealed this tranquil scene.

AREQUIPA
Although Arequipa was a one day stopover on our way to see the Condors, I fell in love with the city.  Arequipa is surrounded by volcanoes, one higher than Mt. Kilimanjaro and still active.  The city was exceptional clean and green.


The surrounding countryside is spectacular.

The cathedral's twin towers crown the large Zocalo.

Reminescent of Oaxaca, arches surround three sides.

Snow capped mountains are always in view.

Melting snow keeps it green.

Chivay and Colca Canyon
A must-see on our Peru safari was the condors, world's largest birds with a 10 foot wing span.  To be there in the morning for their flight, we had to spend a night in Chivay.  It is a small, beautiful, clean town.  We swam in a thermal pool nearby and got up at 5 am to get to the canyon on time.


   The Valley of Chivay.

We passed llamas and alpacas on the way.

Left:  Swimming in a thermal pool was a real treat.
Above:  Brother Jimmy holds an alpaca with one hand and a falcon on his arm.

A condor soars above the Colca Canyon which is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.  Condors are so large that they need the morning heat rising up to get them started.
 

NASCA LINES
The Nasca Lines were made famous by the book "Chariots of the Gods."  No one knows why they were made.  They date from 500BC to 500AD.  We soared above them in a six passenger single prop plane which had to bank repeatedly so we could get pictures.  Thank heaven for Drammine!  It was difficult to get photos as the desert sand was white and the sun was overhead.


All aboard!

Sharp contrast between desert and irrigated farmland.

Most famous is the astronaut.

The spider was easy to see.

The condor spreads his wings.
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