I looked anticipated and planned for this trip for many months and it has been more years than I can remember that I wanted to come here – specifically to Cusco and Machu Picchu. And after spending a glorious week here, I can highly recommend that if you ever get a chance to come, it would be worth the entire experience.
Our guide yesterday told us that the government is considering limiting even more the number of visitors that go to Machu Picchu and other areas outside of Cusco because the sheer number of tourists that come here is damaging the stones and the landscape. Even though people are told not to touch the rocks and to take their garbage with the, some still touch and the oils from the human body is growing a kind of lichen that is disintegrating the rocks. Because it is now a UNESCO heritage site, UNESCO is going to put a cap of about 1000 visitors a day down from the 2500 that are permitted each day and even less on the Inca trail. People are also leaving garbage which is sad because it shows little respect for these places.
The Llipimpac Guesthouse was great (even with the same breakfast for a week). The staff was friendly and courteous. Except for some slight headaches and nightly vivid dreams caused by the high altitude of almost 12,000 feet, we have remained healthy. Cusco is as beautiful as I expected it to be and the adobe houses (made of mud and straw) shows ingenuity and talent. The people are generally friendly. The Peruvian food was great – at least everything that I tried (except the guinea pig [couldn’t do it]). The areas surrounding Cusco had so much history that one can only be awed by it and inspired to help protect it. Macho Picchu exceeded my expectations – from the perfect seat on the train ride to and from, to the perfect hotel room with the perfect view overlooking the Aguas Calientes River, to the majesty of Machu Picchu itself and the impressive knowledge and brilliance of the Incas.
I feel really good that I am helping in some small way with my Kiva loans to several people in the Cusco region. I only know them from the write-up on the Kiva website when I make my micro-loans but I wish them well especially when I see how hard working most of them are. We did not see any beggars on the street nor did we see street people. I am sure they are around but everyone we came across was trying to sell some little thing to make a living. You can only admire them for doing this the honest way. All in all, on a five star scale, I’d give this an off-the-scale star rating!!!
I am looking forward to the Galapagos Islands for different reasons. The flora and fauna is supposed to be one-of-a-kind. There are some species of birds and mammals that are not indigenous to the islands but can only be found there. I’m also looking forward to seeing them and at the same time I have to wonder what happened to those that are supposed to be indigenous to other places but can only be found on these islands. Another UNESCO protected site and another adventure.