We met up with them at the airport in Lima where we flew together to Cusco. After we arrived, we took a bus to a traditional weaving center where they knit tapestries the way the Incas did hundreds of year ago using wool from alpacas. Before they could even start weaving, the women spun the wool using big wooden tops and then dyed it all different colors.
From Cusco we went on to the Sacred Valley, which was at almost 14,000 feet in altitude. Because most people are not used to that extreme height, some got altitude sickness. Stefan and I took medication against it, so we were okay. Our activity for the next day was a treasure hunt with a group of local people from a nearby village.
After the treasure hunt day we did a city tour of Cusco and saw the ruins of the city's temple. The Inca people living in the area would come to Cusco once a year to pay homage to the gods. And just like when we were in Delphi in Greece, the people living in Peru during ancient times thought this was the belly button of the earth!
The next day we headed to Machu Picchu, but first we visited a special Inca temple.
From this temple, they could tell what time of year it was in relation to the winter and summer solstices, based on where the sun was compared to the mountain in front of them. They even had a view of a rock formation that looked like the face of an old man.
After visiting the site we got onto the train for Machu Picchu. It was a great train ride because the entire carriage we were in was for our group and we were all crowded around the windows taking pictures of the amazing views. The only way to get to Machu Picchu is by train or hiking the Inca Trail, which takes 4 or 5 days to complete. I'm glad we took the train!
The next morning we took a bus to Machu Picchu and toured around the site for the whole day. In the morning we visited Machu Picchu itself and saw things like the quarry where they made the rocks from and many of the temples that make up Machu Picchu. My favorite was the 3-windows temple that held statues of a condor, a snake and a puma. These were important animals to the Incas, which represented the land of the gods (condor), earth (puma) and dead (snake). We even saw a couple of condors flying in the sky above Machu Picchu while we were there.
Another thing the Incas did when they built Machu Picchu was carve things in the shape of a trapezoid so it could resist earthquakes. Because of the way they built the walls, if there was an earthquake and the walls did fall, they would fall outward, not in, since that's the way the rocks were slanted.
In the afternoon, most of the group went on a hike up to the Sun Gate. This is where the sun rises from during the winter solstice. It's an amazing spot because from there you can see the entire area of Machu Picchu and the surrounding valley.
Our visit to Machu Picchu was incredible and our next stop is the Amazon rainforest.