My travel in the province of Cusco started with the trip to Machu Picchu.
First I stopped in Ollantaytambo, a charming little village in the Sacred Valley. My actual plan was to take the bus to the hydroelectric station, but apparently most buses coming from Cuzco are already full. So my Argentinean compañeros and I took the bus to kilometer 82 and walked 29 kilometers to Machu Picchu Pueblo, known as Aguas Calientes.
If you decide to choose this route it is recommended to carry a tent unless you leave Ollanta really early and feel confident to walk 30 kilometers within 12 hours. The track is mostly flat and you will pass amazing landscapes that change steadily. In addition the track passes lots of Inca ruins within the first 10 Kilometers.
In Aguas Calientes I stayed at the guest house of Paz where I could use the kitchen of the family and felt like home.
The next morning I got up at 4:30 to enter the park of Machu Picchu at 6:00 and it was absolutely worth it. Machu Picchu is wonderful.
High above the river Urubamba, in the small valley between the tops of Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu, facing all the mountains around, I could feel the spirit of the Incas. Even though I went alone and stayed till 5:00 in the evening I wasn’t bored at any time. On the contrary: I needed the time to check out all the ruins, rest at ceremonial buildings, to look for hidden lama reliefs . . .
My personal advice is to walk around barefoot in the park to get in contact with the energy of this sacred place.
After my amazing trip to Machu Picchu I stayed more than a week in Ollantaytambo, which means I loved the camping hostel I stayed at. Spending nights at the bonfire I met amazing people, such as an Argentinean couple traveling South America by bike or street musicians who struggle every day for a living.
Most of the walls in the village are evidences of Inca buildings. From Ollanta you can get to Andean communities and hike to lots of Inca and pre-Inca constructions.
Something different from all the ruins houses and castles was the Incapool, which is fed by a clean creek and where you can actually swim. To have an exciting trip and experience the amazing Andean landscape in a different way, I got there by mountain bike with an Argentinean friend.
Back in Cuzco, I talked to the owner, Sabino, of the instrument factory in San Blas. He was willing to let me do an internship at his workshop. Sabino is specialized in building charangos, the typical small Andean 10 stringed guitar, out of one piece of wood. He had confidence in me so I could do quite a lot of practical work. He let me cut a bridge for a charango, for instance, hammer the frets and I even got to form the head of a charango.
In the almost two weeks I went to the factory, Sabino and I became good friends and I had lots of fun at work. He is such a warm-hearted and generous Cusqueñan señor and was one of many pleasant people I have met in Cusco.
Of course I did a lot more apart from the internship. I could witness a complete moon eclipse at the temple of the moon, accompanied by many musicians who brought percussion instruments, guitars or who just sang. The magical atmosphere was complete…
I stayed at Delsie’s hostel in San Pedro, which is mostly chosen by street artists, musicians and jewelry makers, in a word people who inspire. Sometimes I went out at night with my musician friends from the hostel and we would start a jam session at Plaza San Francisco or Plazoleta San Blas. I joined them with my voice and later with my charango I had bought in Cuzco.
Luckily I could make friends with Ccanccapa, a young Cusqueñan who is eager to show people the culture of his ancestors. He took me to many temples and explained me everything about the construction and meaning and showed me hidden ornaments in the rocks. I got to visit Zona X, the temples of the moon and the sun, the rainbow port (puerta de arcoiris), Sacsaywaman and a lot of other places.
Up in the mountains the stressful city seemed so far away and I enjoyed playing my charango in nature. I suggest adventurous people to visit the caves of Zona X which are said to lead to the underworld. I walked and craved in some of the caves and never reached an end…
To me the most impressive Inca building in the city of Cuzco was the castle of Sacsaywaman. The walls are huge and built of giant rocks. It’s a typical Inca construction: the rocks were formed to fit perfectly one another.
On one of the walls Ccanccapa showed me a big lama relief, which by the way you can find in many Inca temples and castles.
I was impressed by the spirituality of this place: the ports were built in the direction of the sunrise; there are places just for astronomic use; many paths form a perfect circle; and going upstairs I passed diverse temples that were only visited by the wisest.
The place is full of mysteries and everything was planned out very carefully. A very non-touristic place I loved was the hill in Wanchaq. Even though there are lots of higher mountains in Cuzco, the view all over the city was spectacular. It was one if my last days in Cuzco, so a good opportunity for me to say good-bye and to play the charango the last time in nature above the city.