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Peru – in the footsteps of the Inca  Oct 31 2006

Peru is one of the most diverse and spectacular countries I have ever been to.

All climate zones can be found here, from the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth to the lush Amazon Rainforest in the east. Peru is bordered by Ecuador and Columbia to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, Chile to the South and the Pacific ocean to the west.

Peru is famous for its Inca heritage. The Inca Empire stretched almost 4000 miles from Columbia to Chile with its Capitol in Cusco (Cuzco). Cusco is the oldest continuously inhabited city (over 2000 years) on earth. Surrounded by Andean Peaks, the landing approach through a valley was one of the most interesting plane rides I have experienced.

The Inca were one of the mightiest civilizations that rose to dominate the region from around 1430 until the arrival of the Spaniards in the 1530ies. In less than 100 years the Inca created wonders that will still amaze the visitor today. It is hard to comprehend the accomplishments of this great race of warriors and builders. The Inca adopted a strategy of integration through conquest (conquered tribes kept their religion and government), which proved extremely successful in the rapid expansion of the empire.

The Inca have left many unbelievable ruins. The most famous of all is the City of Machu Picchu. Located high up in the Mountains, surrounded by peaks of unbelievable beauty, this city has only been discovered in 1911. Only in recent years has it become one of the most sought for tourist destinations in the world. Many mysteries surround the city and the city is the subject of much speculation. Its unbelievable beauty will leave visitors gasping in disbelief. Machu Picchu was the most fascinating place I have ever seen in all of my travels.

When Hiram Bingham discovered the city, he was scouting the area in search for Vilcabamba, the last capital of the Inca. He had already found the city (now known as Espiritu Pampa) but failed to recognize its significance. Many believed that Vilcabamba was the famous El Dorado the city full of gold. Since there are still ruins discovered in the jungle and mountains around Cusco, many belief that the Inca treasure is still waiting to be discovered. Almost every year expeditions try to discover Inca ruins in the jungle of Peru and many adventurers have been lost to the unforgivable jungle.

Between Machu Picchu and Cusco is the Sacred Valley of the Inca (also known as Urubamba Valley for its river). This fertile valley has a much milder climate than Cusco and is still one of the main farming areas around Cusco. Along the beautiful valley one can find many Inca Ruins. The most interesting one is Pisac (Pisaq). The stone masonry of Pisac is even more elaborate than in Machu Picchu and even though the irrigation systems still work in both cities after all these centuries, Pisac has more impressive walls set with a precision that is still hard to match by today’s standards. The city overlooks the valley below. Unfortunately it is missed by most tours, so make sure you hire a cab to take you up here.
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