What a day! After a very early start (4am wake up call) we boarded a plane for Cusco, and our first day of adventure in the Andes. Cusco, if you are unaware, is at 11,100 feet above sea level, and is the historic capital of the Inca empire, and the first capital of Spain’s empire in South America. We first visited a Dominican monastery which was built upon the ruins of an Incan temple. It was amazing to see these magnificent structures that were built over 600 years ago, without mortar that have withstood numerous earthquakes that have crumbled the Spanish structures built above.
After winding through Cusco we visited Saksaywaman, an Incan ceremonial center high above Cusco, with even more massive stones. We wandered around the sites before moving on to the other major highlight, the llama farm. There, students learned the difference between llamas, alpacas, and vicunas, then we were able to feed and pet the different varieties of llamas and alpacas, while the vicunas (who were too cool to be domesticated) looked down upon us from their perches above the farm.
We visited the city of Pisac, where we enjoyed a wonderful lunch buffet, and visited the traditional market in the heart of the town, where students sharpened their bargaining skills as they shopped for souvenirs. Finally, we headed off back through the Urubamba valley to our hotel for a well deserved night’s rest. What will the next couple days bring? Stay tuned for more updates as we peruse Peru.