Moray and SalinerasMoray', a site of terraced circular depressions.
Their purpose is not certain, but the speculation is that it was used for experimenting with different agricultural crops - the depressions and depth of the terraces create a temperature and moisture differential.
We also visited the Salineras, a area of high mineral salt in the rocks is transformed into salt drying ponds terraced into the side of the mountain.
Casa de Concha and Museo InkaInca and in the case of Casa Concha, from Machu Picchu itself.
Both museums were excellent, unfortunately both limited photography.
Possibly the most interesting exhibits were several complete skeletons, and deformed skulls (binding) denoting the nobility of the Inca. A great model of Machu Picchu was also on display, gave you a much better feel of the layout of the old city.
The train was really lovely, winding its way along the Urubamba river and the valley floor. At almost every turn, postcard views of white water, mountains and snow capped peaks.
Once we arrived at Aguas Calientes, we boarded the bus for the short journey up to Machu Picchu.
Nothing can prepare you for your first glimpse of Machu Picchu, the old mountain and city. You've seen pictures. The old city itself is quite small, but the setting: the vast mountain range that surrounds it, the yawning expanse of the deep valleys barely fits in your head.
We visited the Inti Watana stone, the Temple of the Sun (Torreon) and the Room of the Three Windows.
All together, we stayed for about 3 hours. We grew very tired from the constant climbing up and down, and the blazing hot sun.
We caught the bus back to Aguas Calientes, just in time to catch the train back. This time with the setting sun behind the Andes, it was even more lovely.
Saqsayhuamam and other sights around Cusco
We had an early lunch, Peruvian Cerviche and avocado dishes.
After lunch, a guided tour of the ruins around Cusco. The Tambomachay and Q'enqo where very lovely. Tambomachay, built by the Inca featured a water fountain, sourced many hundreds of metres away in the mountains; the guide said it never runs dry, it never flows to fast or to slow.
First we toured the Spanish era cathedral called Iglesia De Santo Domingo that incorporates the walls of much older Inca ruins. Sections representing Moon, Sun, Stars and Venus were still present. The walls have withstood many earthquakes undamaged, while the surrounding church has had to be rebuilt or repaired many times.
The most impressive site was Saqsayhuamam, a huge sprawling site of gigantic ironstones fitted together so perfectly they may as well have been lego blocks. The site is said to represent a puma, but its purpose is not truly known. Over the years, it has been raided for its stone, until 1932 when it was protected.
The walking today was incredibly difficult. The thin air made things would normally have been simple ear-poundingly hard work.
Arriving in Cusco
Our friendly van driver pointed out the sights as we made our way through Cusco and the old city. He informed us that we were at 3300 metres above sea level (and Machu Picchu is at 2400 metres, which was a surprise to me - I expected to be going UP a mountain to see the ruins...).
At check-in for the hotel, we were given tea made from coco leaves, which is quite pleasant and after about 15 minutes we all started to feel a lot better. The altitude really hits you. Makes you tired and sleepy, slightly dizzy, and your heart pounds in your chest if you do anything even remotely like brisk movement.
After settling in, we took to the nearby streets and found it alive with people - Preparations for Corpus Cristi we well under way. The old city central square, Plaza de Armas, is wonderfully beautiful, dominated on two sides by two churches, the Cathedral del Cuzco being the more grand. We'll look more closely at these tomorrow.