Posted by: Talie Morrison | November 24, 2009


I have only been in Peru for a week, and it seems like I have done so much already!

Cusco by Night!

Adventure number one – at the Cuzco airport, a lady asked me if I needed a taxi.  I said yes and she said “right this way” – When we got to a car, she said that was the taxi…. hum?…   I said “But it doesn´t have any numbers or name on it.”   And she said it was ok because she would come with me….. hum?….   Ok, so there I was….   Into town we went and I said where I wanted to go (a hostel I had found in the Lonely Planet book).   She said she had a better place – showed me the brochure, gave me the “big spiel”, etc….  So I thought I would take a look at it…hum … It was a real place, the room was nice, and the price was good – so I agreed.   Then she offered me tea (now really, she was a very nice lady and I was not at all concerned) and asked me what I wanted to do in Cuzco.   So she put together a great package with places I want to go, lodging, etc. for a good price (we spent about 45 minutes together).    Then I told her that first I needed to go to the South American Explorer’s Club and see if there were any hiking/backpacking possibilities available.   So I walked to the address that was in the Lonely Planet book, but there was nobody/nothing there.   So off I went to find a phone to call them and find out that they had moved….hum… finally I arrived at the most wonderful, friendly, accommodating, peaceful place (where they speak English!).    I joined the club there (Bruce and Laurie told me that if I joined in Cuzco and paid my monies there, the brunt of the money would go to the local chapter!).  Luckily, Miguel (#1 Guide in Peru!) was there at the same time I was – so I asked him about going on a hike.   He had another American couple who had booked him for Wednesday (this was Monday), and if they agreed, I could go along on that hike.   What they had planned was a 3 day/2 night trip through the Quencha part of the mountains from Lares to Ollantaytambo.   We tentatively put it together and planned on meeting the next day with them to be sure all was ok.  (So I cancelled most of the plan that the “airport travel agent want-to-be had put together – she was very disappointed, but she “latched on” to the wrong lady! 🙂

Amazing Incan Rock Work in Cusco

I took a “city tour” and saw some of the ruins in and around Cusco.   It was amazing the rock work that the Incas did with none of the tools that we have today!    The rock just to the right of me has 15 angles cut into it.   All the stone work is intricate and exact and built to last through multiple earthquakes.

Amazing the size of the rocks!

The rocks in this second picture were moved from about 20 kilometers away to the site where they were constructed into this wall.   How DID they do that??  Look at how they have carved each rock so that it will fit with the other rocks – Amazing!


So at 5:45 am on Wednesday am, Miguel picked me up and then picked up Barb and Russ (it was raining cats and dogs!), and off we went to Lares (about a 5 hour trip).   Some of it was on decent roads, but most of it was on unpaved backcountry roads – I knew that was going to be part of this adventure!   🙂    In Lares, there is a hot springs, so while our horse driver and chef  (yes that is not a typo – it´s a chef) loaded up the mules, we soaked in the hot springs – life is good! 

Gotta love those guys for carrying my gear!

  I didn´t go into the hotest pools because I was afraid that my muscles would be jelly before we could get started!   The mules carried most of the gear and we just carried our day packs.   Of course,  since I have my large backpack with me – the only “day pack” I have is my ¨Mountain-Smith Fanny Pack” – which worked just fine.   I also, since it´s the beginning of rainy season down here, brought my “go-lite umbrella” (my Chilkoot friends will remember that one! :-).   The gear is a combination of Miguel´s gear (and he does a first class trip) and my gear (like my sleeping bag and pad).   The horse driver and chef were awesome!   I ate more on that trip than I have in weeks!   Yum!   The first day we hiked mostly level up the Huaca Huasi valley.    I was amazed at the people, the country side, and the farms.    We are hiking at 9-10,000 feet elevation – and the Quentcha people live at those altitudes!   Barb, Russ and I have since nick-named Miguel ¨The Mayor of the Trail¨!   He knows so many of the people in those communities and the faces of the kids light up when they see him coming!  

I just love these little ones!

 Of course we brought with us lots of stickers, pencils, paper, etc. to hand out to the kids.   And some of them loved having us take their photo and then looking at it on the digital cameras.   We also took Coca leaves for the parents and older members of the communities.   Coca leaves have some really good altitude adjustment qualities – so we also drank it as tea and chewed it on our day over the pass.

Day 2, we were awakened by a loud speaker going off in the near-by community at 5:30 am.   Of course it was in Spanish, and I didn´t have a clue what they were talking about.   I thought it might be a political campaign speech.   But then Miguel told us that there was a truck stuck on the road (the rain had softened it and the truck sank).   The truck was bringing lumber up for a new school building in the area.    The mayor of Lares had asked the community members to come down and carry the lumber up to the building site while a front end loader pulled the truck out of the mud and then re-built the road.   So we started the day out with lots of excitement.   And, needless to say, the whole community showed up to help out! 

Now THIS is the way to dine in the wilderness!

 After a gourmet breakfast (fresh fruit, oatmeal and pancakes), we headed off toward the pass…   it was a pretty long day, as it was mostly up!    Again, I was just amazed that there were little houses and people living almost all the way up to the pass…  which was at 4700 meters (isn´t that over 14,000 feet!) .  Most of the last bit over the pass and down the other side, was raining – oh, well….   Once we were over the pass, our beautiful chef, Roberto, had a hot lunch waiting for us.     Yum! 

Look at all our gear - and she is barefoot!

As we were approaching the pass we gave some coca leaves to a local grandmother.   Look at our “gear” – as it was pretty rainy – and then notice that she is there barefoot!   

Me and my umbrella on top of the pass!

  The rest of the afternoon was contouring around the sides of the hills as we worked our way down the valley.    Pretty rough country, but the local Quechua people are living and farming in the most amazing places.    We camped out at the edge of Patacancha community at 3800 m.   The last day was part hiking and part driving down to Ollantaytambo.


Paupolini, Roberto, and Miguel - #1 Guides of Peru!

Barb, Russ and Miguel were planning on going back to Cuzco, but I planned to stay in Ollantaytambo Friday night, take the train to Agua Caliente on Saturday and “do” Macchu Picchu on Sunday.





I loved Ollantaytambo. 

Ruins at Ollantaytambo

A great little town with a great big Incan ruin.    There is an awesome restaurant called “Hearts Cafe” (it´s right on the square!).   And 100% of their profits go to help the indigenious people – not only that, but they have excellent food, they speak English, they have an English book exchange, and National Geographics to read while you are there!    I had both dinner and breakfast there!

Then I was off on Peru Rail to Aguas Caliente (which some people are trying to change the name to Machupicchu Pueblo).   Miguel had recommended a great hostel, I got my tickets to Machupicchu for tomorrow, and the bus (I want to get on the 5Ñ30 am bus so I can climb Wyanapicchu).   Then I spent a couple of hours wandering around Aguas Caliente –  I love this little town!   It is carved out of the steep mountains (even more than Ouray in Colorado!), and I found some beautiful gardens, waterfalls, and even a petroglyph!   I am finding the Peruvian people very helpful and friendly – at least I am getting my point across with my “broken Spanish”….

Machupicchu –

Amazing Machupicchu

   WOW!   What else can I say about Macchupicchu.    I know that those of you who have been there will agree with me!   It is amazing the amount of work that the Incans did in such a remote area.   No one knows how they were able to carve the rocks and make such incredible “joins” in the walls and terraces!   Incredible!   I spent the night in Aguas Calientes (a lovely little town!) and got on the 5:45 bus going up the hill to the ruins.   I really wanted to be able to climb Waynapicchu and wanted to be on the 7 am climbing group.  

On top of Waynupicchu

 Needless to say,  I made it – loved the climb and loved the ruins!   After about 5.5 hours though, I guess I had enough of rock walls and ruins – I already had reservations on the 1:30 pm train back to Ollantaytambo.   But, Macchupicchu was everything I had hoped for and then some!   Ít has been listed as one of the “Wonders of the World” now and I recommend it to anyone who hasn´t been there!  

         Back in Ollantaytambo, I looked for some others to share a taxi to Cusco with – unfortunately I didn´t find anyone and had to pay the whole fare myself… but then for a 1.5 hour ride across the beautiful country side it only cost me 50 Soles (that´s only about $20).   And I had an hour and a half to practice my Spanish with Freddy, my taxi driver!   I had my handy Spanish dictionary in hand and we were able to communicate pretty well!

    So now I´m back in Cusco, but I have reservations to head to Puno and Lake Titicaca tomorrow morning!   Here are a couple of more photos that I want to toss in:

Adobe Works


These fields, for potatoes, are all HAND TILLED!









Llama posing at Machupicchu!

Doesn´t get much cuter than this!



  1. Loved the blog post and your observations. We stayed for a few nights on Isla de Sol and highly recommend it. Also, lots of people recommend the floating islands for the cultural experience but we’ve never been. I recommend stopping in Ariquipa on the way south. It’s a great city with lots of culture like the convent and lots of adventure tours like climbing a big peak. You might also want to start investigating flights south to Santiago since there’s a big discount when you book ahead. PS You can get across the border to the beach town of Arica and book from there. Have fun and a pisco sour for us. Abrazos

  2. hi talie!
    oh my gosh! what an amazing adventure. your pictures and stories are amazing!

    happy happy thanksgiving!


  3. Hi Talie!!!

    What an awesome week. Your pictures are amazing and so are you. Happy Thanksgiving 🙂

    Love you!

  4. Dear Talie,

    it´s wonderful to read about your trip. I love the story with the loud speaker calling the whole community at 5:30 a.m.!

    Great pictures!


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