Machu Picchu Trip Report

September 6 - 12, 2009

extension to ski
Valle Nevado, Chile
September 12 - 20, 2009

Machu Picchu

There was a new venue for the Harford Ski Club in 2009 - a siteseeing trip to Machu Picchu, the long abandoned city of the Inca civilization high in the Andes Mountains of Peru. Four members of the Club, Mark & Deb Parker, Charles Robinson and Mike Zullo ventured off in September to see this magnificent site.  They were met by six other travelers from the Cleveland and Green Bay Ski Clubs.

Day 1 - We arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru, and accommodated our jet lag with much needed rest.

Day 2 - We departed for Cusco, the center of the ancient Inca Empire that remains to this day the central city of the Inca's ancestors.  We boarded our bus for a day in the sacred valley that was the agricultural mainstay of the Inca civilization.  We saw the large, agricultural terraces at Ollantaytambo, where massive stone walls encircle a temple and serve as a fortress.  We climbed the top of the fortress and toured the area with our guide, Carlos.   A highlight of the day was a visit to the home of a native Inca family. We learned that the guinea pig is a primary source of meat for the Inca.  These little rodents that our kids often keep as pets, roam the grounds of Inca homes like chickens on an American farm.  And, like the chickens, the guinea pigs soon become dinner!  The Inca families also show great reverence to their ancestors, often keeping an altar in the home complete with candles, pictures and even skulls of their departed loved-ones.  Their religion is a fascinating blend of Christian and ancient Inca rituals.

Day 3 - We boarded a tourist train to the town of Aguas Calientes where we stayed in the beautifully appointed Inkaterra Hotel for the evening.

Day 4 - In the early morning the group was bused to Machu Picchu, a city built high on the side of the "old mountain," in an almost inaccessible location above the river valley. The altitude had an effect on nearly all of us.  We were in awe of the design and massive stone buildings in the city.  It is amazingly well-preserved.  The only missing elements were the thatched roofs.  Machu Picchu was discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham in his search for the "Lost City" of the Inca.  It is believed to be the legendary capital of the last Inca king, and the final bulwark of resistance against the Spanish Conquistadors.  The Inca Empire fell in 1533.  After our guided tour, we wandered through the spectacular ruins on our own, snapping picture after picture of the awesome scenery until after lunch.  We returned to Cusco via bus and train.

Day 5 - Today we toured the sacred area of Cusco where an ancient temple was dismantled and robbed of its treasure by Pizarro's men in 1534.  It is the current site of the Santo Domingo church.  We visited museums and cathedrals, enjoyed the local culture, and the brave among us even tried a meal of guinea pig ("cui" in the native tongue).  The general consensus - eat only if absolutely nothing else is available!!

Day 6 - We returned to Lima and spent the day visiting historical sites, shopping, people watching in the main square, and finally preparing for our trip home.

Machu Picchu is truly one of the most beautiful and impressive places to visit.

Trip Report by
Mike Zullo
Trip Leader

(Nobody did the ski extension to Chile.)