Matchu Picchu

Peru - living in high altitude

When I started to plan this trip I was overwhelmed how much this country has to offer to a curious guy. Besides the touristic places like Lima, Cuzco, Nazca, and Titicaca, it has gorgeous landscapes like the Colca Canyon, the Andean mountains, the Pacific ocean and not to forget the Amazon River and the jungle. Peru is a large country and traveling might consume more time than I had planned, so I have limited the destinations I wanted to visit.
Flying into Lima was obligatory. After a short stopover, I arrived at my final destination Arequipa, which is about 2340 meter above sea level. Leaving the aircraft I was greeted by Misti a 5800 meter high and active volcano.
If you are planning to go to Peru, you should definitively prepare yourself for staying in high altitude.

Before going on with the trip, I rested some days in Arequipa to give my body a chance to adjust to the high altitude. Headaches and short breath are normal during that period. Enjoying coca leaf tea was helping me, too. My next destination was the Colca Canyon. Starting in Arequipa driving by the Moorish monastery, Santa-Catalina, crossing the Altiplano and the Patapampa saddle (4800m), I finally reached the Colca valley - still 3700m above sea level. Here you have the chance to see some of the Andean condors and the impressive man made terraces.
Following the roads, which seemed to be endless, across the highlands, I arrived in Puno and Titicaca. From there, I took the panoramic railway trip of 10 hours with the Andean Explorer to Cuzco. I hiked the secret valley, trekked some parts of the Inka trail and climbed mount Machu Pitchu.

Public transportation

Colca Highlands

Everyone is talking about the grandeur of the Grand Canyon (United States) but Colca Canyon is equally impressive - located about 160 kilometers northwest of Arequipa. With a depth of 3270m, it is one of the deepest canyon in the world - twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Furthermore the Colca Valley is a colorful Andean valley with pre-Inca culture and towns founded in Spanish colonial times which are still inhabited.
The local people still maintain their traditions and continue to cultivate the pre-Inca stepped terraces. It is really amazing how many of those manmade terraces you can find here (see picture below).

Matchu Picchu

Endless roads and railways

It was amazing to see those endless landscapes. That is why I had to get out of the car and stood still for several minutes to absorb the impression, the fresh cold air and the silence. Those were the moments of realizing how beautiful this country is. The other time I felt this realization was when I took the Andean Explorer from Puno to Cuzco - a 10 and half hour train ride on tracks clinging to the winding hillsides in the mountains and through the valleys.
It was a pity to see only the south of Peru. There is so much more to explore in the northern parts of Peru.

The Ruins

Machu Picchu is situated on a mountain ridge above the Sacred Valley northwest of Cuzco. Most archaeologists believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti (1438–1472). Actually there were no documents of any kind found to proof any theories about this place. Anyway it is overwhelming - just walk up those small beaten tracks to the top.
Try to picture the human-shaped face in the mountains :)

Moray (picture on the right) is approximately 50km northwest of Cuzco on a high plateau at about 3500m. This site contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several enormous terraced circular depressions. As with other Inca sites it also has a sophisticated irrigation system. The purpose of these depressions is uncertain, but their depth, design, and orientation with respect to wind and sun create a temperature difference of as much as 15 °C between the top and the bottom. It is possible that the Inca used it to study the effects of different climatic conditions on crops.