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Peru 2011

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S: Peru 2011

1: Machu Picchu and Posada Amazonas October 1 - 13, 2011 | After a long day of flying, we were greeted by our first guide, Mureja

2: After a brief night's rest, we met the rest of our tour group and hopped on a plane to Cuzco, the capital of the Inca Empire. After acclimating to the high altitide with some tea, we were greeted by our Andean guide, Adriel, and the adventure began!

4: QORIKANCHA Convento de Santo Domingo

6: Saqsaywaman

7: One of the new seven wonders of the world and considered one of the most amazing monuments that mankind built on earth. Saqsaywaman was built by the Incas and was called the House of the Sun. The boulders are limestone, the largest of which weighs 70 tons, and they were brought from a quarry 3 km away.

11: Driving from Cuzco toward the Sacred Valley of the Incas, we stopped to take in the amazing views of the Valley below and to perform a purification ritual.

13: Circular agricultural terraces in Moray

15: Next a stop at the salt mines in Maras, where water from a local subterranean stream is evaporated to leave behind a variety of salts. Then lunch at the Tunupa Restaurant, with amazing views of the farm house, hillside, and Urubamba river. And of course the vicuña!

16: Incan ruins at Ollantaytambo, the royal estate of the Emperor who conquered the region, and a stronghold during the Spanish conquest.

18: Overnight in the Sacred Valley at Sonesta Posadas Del Inca Yucay in the town of Urubamba. The lodge is on the grounds of an18th century colonial-style monastery.

20: Heading to Machu Picchu, the day we have waited for! | A ride aboard PeruRail through the Urubamba Valley

21: Machu Picchu Machu Picchu is a world-renowned archaeological site situated on the side of a granite mountain. The construction of this amazing city comprises one of the most spectacular creations of the Inca Empire. It appears to date from the 1400s. While the function of this city is not known, it appears to be divided into quarters with individual purpose: a Farmers' quarter near the colossal terraces whose slopes were cultivated and transformed into hanging gardens; an 'industrial' quarter; a 'royal' quarter and a 'religious' quarter.

25: What an exhilaring feeling! Our trek through the grounds of Machu Picchu was guided by Adriel, an expert on Peru’s Colonial and Incan history and deeply knowledgeable about the ceremonies and traditions of the Andes.

26: The next morning we got an early start hiking along the Inca Trail to the Temple of the Sun. If only we knew we would be hiking up another 1,000 feet!

34: Mercado Central en Cuzco

36: Amazon Adventure

37: After a quick flight to Puerto Maldonado, our Amazon adventure began. The 100% humidity hit us as soon as we exited the airplane. Our bus took us to the edge of the river where a porter carried the luggage to a boat. We boarded our own boat for a ride down the river complete with lunch served in a banana leaf! The hike to the lodge revealed amazing forestry, and although we were hot and sticky, we were excited for what we would see and do.

38: Our "room": 2 walls were bamboo & a 3rd, well, missing! | "Happy Hour" before dinner, flashlights required! | We even had "turn down service", but didn't know it was for mosquito netting!

39: Boat trip on an oxbow lake in search of otters. We took a break to fish for piranha (and sardines too!). Their bite was so strong it sounded like a hole punch!

43: 4:00 a.m. wake up for a hike to find the Macaws at a clay lick. They visit here to eat the clay to settle their stomachs and to gather socially. We were fortunate to see a group of spider monkeys overhead along the way!

46: We slept in until 4:30 a.m. on the last day before hiking to a scaffolding where we could climb to view the rainforest canopy.

49: The Food!

50: After our return to Lima we stopped at the Larco Herrera Museum and drove through the Plaza de Armas in the center of town

52: Shops, Cuzco | Plaza de Armas, Cuzco | Town of Aguas Calientes

53: Street Market, Cuzco | Plaza de Armas, Lima | Cathedral, Cuzco

54: Our trip extension to Paracas

55: The Nazca Lines are a series of geoglyphs located in the desert in southern Peru. Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the area stretches more than 50 miles. The reason why these geoglyphs were created is a mystery, and they range from simple lines to more complex animals such as a hummingbird, a spider, a monkey, and a whale. The largest is more than 660 ft across!

56: After the whirlwind aerial tour of the Nazca Lines, we arrived at La Hacienda Bahia Paracas, a gem of a hotel on the Pacific coast.

57: Sunset on the Pacific

59: A detour to the National Reserve where we saw fossils, wildlife, and amazing views of the playa roja | The road through the National Reserve was made of salt! | Fossilized "Screw" Shells

62: A morning boat trip to the Ballestas Islands, also called the Galapagos of Peru

66: Huaca Pucllana An adobe and clay pyramid that served as a ceremonial center between 200 - 500 AD. It is located in the heart of the Miraflores neighborhood in Lima.

67: On our last afternoon in Lima we headed toward the Pacific coast to Larco Mar, a 4 level mall carved into the side of the cliff. After a quick lunch, we walked through Miraflores souvenir shopping before leaving.

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