FACTOID: Cusco, located above 11,000 feet, is the 7th most populated city in Peru with about 500,000 people.
FACTOID: From the 13th to the 16th century it was the capital of the Inca Empire.
FACTOID: The Spanish explorer Pizarro sacked much of Cusco in 1535. A number of the buildings in Cusco have the Inca base stones as part of the buildings. It is still not known how the Incas were able to build and move around these large stones.
You can still see a lot of the indigenous people walking around the city. The Queen's nephew Toby is with some children and their pet llamas. There were many llamas walking around the city - I guess pre-part of dinner.
This site was built by the Killke culture in the 12th century. The Killke existed prior to the Incas. This is the group that made it to Sacsayhuaman. The Queen's sister and brother-in-law did not make it. They had gone out the night before and had too much to drink at 11,000 feet and were sick this morning.
We were close to Cusco. The city below in the background is Cusco.
The stones were huge and hand cut. They claim that sometimes when they have to do repairs they find hand bones between the stones.
The same guides from Machu Picchu were still with us.
There were plenty of llamas wandering around the site.
This little was curious about Peter, the Queen's brother.
The site had some aqueducts that you could walk through.
For lunch we stopped at La Casona del Inka. It had a fantastic view of the city of Cusco. We were probably at 12,000 feet at this point.
The food was good and the guide offered us some corn beer. It is awful.
For dinner we went to Don Antonio with a stop at a Wax Museum on the way.
The highlight of the evening was a folklore show with native dancers.
As part of the show they tried to light the dancer's ass with a candle. This restaurant was rated as #163 of 800 restaurants in Cusco. This place has a buffet diner and for that type of dinner it was very good. It is very large and a little noisy as it was full.
We spent part of one day on tours to various places around Cusco. The group was split in two with one part doing the tour by mountain bike and the other by car. It was organized so that two groups met at the various sites. The bus ride was about an hour and we started off at about 12,000 feet altitude.
There was some initial instruction and we were told not to worry about the altitude as we would be going downhill the entire time and we would not have to exert ourselves too much.
The trip was through many wide open fields with nice views…
… and through some small villages.
There was plenty of time to take photos…..
… and to stop and pee.
Although it was mostly downhill there were some slight up hills and the King had to walk kthe bike on these along with the Queen's nephew.
Village of Maras
Our first stop was in the small village of Maras where we met up with the `car' group and had a nice picnic lunch in the main square.
The King decided to stop biking at this point and they put my bike on the roof of the van and I proceeded to finish in the van.
The `car' group left first and the bike group left later.
Maras Salt Flats
The Incas created 3,000 salt ponds in the 14th century. They are located in a valley where there is a constant flow of water from an underground stream and are still in operation.
The mountain bikers caught up with us and jined us in the parking lot after their last treacherous hill.
The salt ponds are a cooperative and any family in the community can be assigned one.
We were able to walk among the ponds but as of September, 2019 tourists are no longer permitted to walk around - only view it from above. This was due to the contamination that occurred.
Drones are not allowed over the ponds.
One of the community members on her way to her pond.
The site contains unusual Inca ruins, mostly consisting of several terraced circular depressions, the largest of which is approximately 30 m (98 ft) deep.
It is actually an Inca research station. The temperature difference between the top and the bottom can be as much as 27 degrees. The Incas experimented with what plants grow better at what altitude and mixed soils and water to find out what plants and vegetables grow best where.
The fields and stations were scattered over a large area.
There were some shaded places to sit and listen to lectures.
…. And some native people waiting to sell you stuff.
For dinner that night we went to Morena in Cusco. The King had something that looked like wonton soup and some very fancy, healthy and awful drinks. This restaurant was rated #26 out of 800 restaurants in Cusco. It was a Peruvian, Latin, Fusion place???