Tag-Archive for ◊ Machu Picchu ◊

Views 10 Ene The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Day 3 + 4
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | One Comment

After having hiked for two long days (see here my travel story) we were already half way on our trek to Machu Picchu.

Day 3
By the traditional route, day 3 is the longest day and it also has the most optional detours to see different ruins. So instead of staying in Wiñay Wayna, the traditional end-point of the third day, we decided to take some of these detours and enjoyed these greatly preserved ruins at regular intervals during the day, breaking up the 1000m descent into the cloud forest. On the other hand we got into Machu Picchu a bit later on Day 4, since we had further to walk.

Dejà-vu struck first thing in the morning, as we had to climb out of the valley in which we had spent the night. The 400m climb that you could see from day 2’s descent kicked off a long day. The group got to the top without a problem, but from there it was still a long haul to lunch on the top of the third and final pass; you could almost hear a chorus of stomachs rumbling as we came through the mist and arrived at lunch.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Lunch also marked the end of any significant uphill walking on the Inca Trail, which was a nice feeling! With careful baby steps we came down to the campsite for a relatively early finish, and that night, somehow, we played football with Simón, Lino and the porters. This was a really nice way of showing our appreciation for their astonishing support on our journey. After the game we had a small presentation ceremony where we gave each person a token of our thanks.

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Views 09 Ene The ins and outs of Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu Pueblo
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | One Comment

Set around 400m. below the historic site of Machu Picchu, the town of Aguas Calientes is the unavoidable stop-off point for all visitors. Those who do a one day excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco won’t have much time there, but anyone staying overnight in order to beat the crowds at Machu Picchu before sunrise the next morning, and/or hike up the Huayna Picchu mountain will have some spare time in the town (recently renamed Machu Picchu Pueblo, just to confuse everyone).

We won’t even attempt to beat about the bush; Aguas Calientes is a tourist trap. Most guidebooks slate the place and whilst we won’t go that far, it is a town irrefutably based upon the fact that lots of rich western tourists will pass through.

In the evening, bars play European or American football and blast out loud music. Touts or ‘sharks’ posted outside restaurants will practically beg you to enter, and market stalls typically are more expensive than Cusco and certainly the Sacred Valley. Despite all the above, we believe that there is something about Aguas Calientes that all the guidebooks have missed.

Aguas Calientes

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Views 07 Ene Trains! Trains! Trains to Machu Picchu!
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials  | 11 Comments

If you don’t fancy hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for several days and unless you want to take 4 mini-buses with crying babies and local produce, a small train overall taking about 10 hours, you better take the direct train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco. Unfortunately this process has been made overly complicated and quite expensive, due to it being the main route to see Machu Picchu, the jewel of the Inca Empire and the most important Peruvian tourism site in the country.

In order to decipher everything surrounding these direct trains, here is a guide to help you make a more informed decision about your excursion to Machu Picchu:

1. Train Stations
Cusco is not served directly by a train from Aguas Calientes. Due to the altitude difference (Cusco at 3,400masl and Aguas Calientes at 2,000masl) the trains won’t go straight to Cusco; the time it would take to do this would add hours onto any journey.

Therefore, on a train from Aguas Calientes you reach Ollantaytambo, where 90% of trains stop, or Poroy, around 20 minutes away from Cusco city. Of course, a train all the way to Poroy is much more comfortable, with less hassle, but there is only a limited time schedule and they are often more expensive.

Trains take approximately 90 minutes to reach Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, or 3½ hours to Poroy. At both stations, a minibus or taxi will get you back to Cusco.

Aguas Calientes

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Views 13 Dic Spend Christmas or New Year’s Day at Machu Picchu in Peru!
 |  Category: Events  | 8 Comments

Haven’t made any plans yet for Christmas? What about spending it high up in the Andean mountains during one of our unique treks in Peru!

The Inca’s of Peru didn’t believe the world is going to end on the 21st of December, and neither do we. However, this particular date could go into history as your first day of the Inca Trail. After four days of hardship and solidarity with new friends you will arrive at the sungate looking upon Machu Picchu; at the break of dawn on Christmas day.

After this incredible moment and accomplishment we will bring you back to Cusco in time for a traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner. You can be assured to look back upon a truly unique and mystical experience (and you don’t have to worry about your diet after 49 km’s of hiking in the Andes!).

Spend Christmas or New Year’s Day at Machu Picchu in Peru!
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Views 11 Dic Check Out Our New Website!
 |  Category: Events  | 5 Comments

We’ve spruced things up at: www.dosmanosnederland.com. Same URL but with a brand new look, better features and the same great choice and value!

If you’re new to Dos Manos Latin America Specialist and haven’t yet visited our website, you’ll be pleased to find a clear overview of the services we offer all over Central and South America, including tours and travel packages, Spanish courses, volunteer work and accommodations.

The excursion section now features extensive destination info and an integrated search function with advanced filters. Booking a hotel or hostel has never been so easy through the intuitive booking application and the Spanish schools and volunteer work in Latin America pages have been designed to provide practical information with of course lots of new photos.

Check Out Our New Website!
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Views 26 Sep Andean beliefs, a world of rituals and superstitions
 |  Category: Culture and Curiosities  | 11 Comments

Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador have the highest percentages of self-identified indigenous people, most of whom live in the highlands. The Quechua and other linguistic groups, such as the Aymara, have coexisted with the mestizos majority (people of mixed European and indigenous descent) for many centuries.

Their cultures are strong, autonomous and resilient to change and have influenced their country’s identity (through traditional music, food, language and superstition) to its core.

For travelers, experiencing these highland cultures firsthand can be as simple as getting on a bus, hanging around a typical village or shopping at a bustling local market. Here you will find the usual fare such as colorful ponchos, alpaca sweaters, Machu Picchu paintings and other crafts but also a funny little man: the Ekeko.

Andean beliefs, a world of rituals and superstitions

This ceramic doll symbolizes the Andean comerciante and odds are they look exactly like how you imagined an indigenous person from South America; colorfully dressed carrying many bags, in the Ekeko’s case filled with grains of rice, corn, sweets, confetti and even miniature dollar bills (or euros). This Andean buddy embodies abundance, fortune and prosperity…and makes for the perfect souvenir!

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Views 05 Sep Get off the beaten track with these Cusco excursions!
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | 13 Comments

We all know that Cusco is famous for its Inca and colonial history as well as being the departure point for Machu Picchu excursions. Once you have seen these architectural wonders and want to hang around a little longer then we really suggest exploring some of the less visited regions around Cusco.

Here we provide you with 3 suggestions that are a guaranteed lust for the traveling soul and will get you right off the beaten tourism path:

Valle Del Sur
The first route is located in the South Valley of Cusco. This region is mostly known for the Inca settlement of Tipon, however a little further up the road you can find the archeological remains of a much older culture: the Wari. At about 30 km’s from Cusco, they build the Pikillaqta site, which in its aftermath consisted of more than 700 structures. Belonging to the archaeological park is the Huacarpay wetland which offers splendid views and an aura of tranquility (if you don’t mind the enormous variety of wildlife going about their business). It is possible to visit all these locations in a half a day, stopping by the lustrous ‘Sistine Chapel of America’ in the town of Andahuaylillas. However, we suggest continuing your day-out to the humble town of Lucre, a couple of minutes away from Huacarpay. Here you will be pleasantly surprised with an exquisite lunch prepared with duck and a fantastic pastry shop. The locale easily recognized by the hundreds of cow ornaments serves a delicious sauco cheesecake and lucuma pie.

Get off the beaten track with these Cusco excursions!
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Views 15 Jun Machu Picchu exposed!
 |  Category: Culture and Curiosities  | One Comment

Was Machu Picchu a city home to magicians? A summer residence for Inca rulers? An elite cosmological university or, perhaps it was more a refuge, functioning as a safeguard from wild Amazon tribes?

Even if you discard just another popular belief that is was used as a landing place for extraterrestrials, there are countless other theories floating around why it was constructed and in such a miraculous location.

The true answer to this question will be forever unknown. However there are some secrets we are able to reveal with certainty. The best thing is that these will only enlarge the mystic sensation grabbing you while visiting Machu Picchu:

Machu Picchu exposed!

There is a hidden shrine
You can climb, or better said crawl up the famous mountain known as Huayna Picchu; yes, that pointy one serving as a backdrop on every classic Machu Picchu postcard. It takes some serious hiking effort and clever preparation as only a limited amount of visitors are allowed to take on this relentlessly steep trail every day. What not many people know is that besides the impressive views from the top at 2,700 meters altitude, you can get to the Temple of the Moon where an elaborately shrine is sculpted out inside a cave, which most likely used to be a hidden rest place for mummies.

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Views 06 Jun Top 5 Machu Picchu Side-trips!
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials  | 2 Comments

Machu Picchu is been considered, by its astonishing magnificence and harmonious construction, as one of the most important architectural and archeological monuments of the planet.

Surrounded by mysteries, because archeologists have not been able to decipher the history and the function of this stone city, erected by the Incas in a magic geographical zone, where the Andean and the Amazonian come together.

To really appreciate this significant location we suggest to take your time and explore these easy to reach nearby destinations:

  1. The Sun Gate

    Top 5 Machu Picchu Side-trips! Watching the sun rise over Machu Picchu is magical. Getting up early enough and making sure you get to the Inca Sun Gate in time to watch the sun slowly appearing from behind the snow-covered peaks, just as the Incas did, is a once in a life-time experience. It is recommendable to make your way to Machu Picchu around 4 am as it is still a good hour’s walk to the Sun Gate after you passed the main entrance gate.

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Views 22 May My Top 5 South America Travel Destinations
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials  | Leave a Comment

Ingmar Griffioen, a.k.a. El Grifo, spent nine weeks travelling the continent and to study Spanish in Buenos Aires and in Cusco. We, at Dos Manos Travel Agency asked him what he enjoyed the most. In his response, he said he would have loved to stay longer and enjoy the many new friendships with his fellow students at the AMAUTA Spanish School, as well as visit more places. Even so, he provided us with a Top 5 of his most beautiful and impressive travel experiences in South America:

  1. Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu

    My Top 5 South America Travel Destinations One of the seven recent world wonders and the place on your ‘to-see’ list in Latin America. Due to its superb setting, which makes the ‘lost city’ invisible from the valley below, the Spanish conquistadores were, thankfully, oblivious to its existence. The impressive Inca ruins have only been discovered about 100 years ago, but the proximity to the fascinating old capital of the Incas, Cusco, and the unbelievable experience of hiking the Wayna Picchu mountain offering its majestic views over the remains of Machu Picchu as well as the green Urubamba river valley flanked by the peaks of the mighty Andes mountains, make this a true number 1.

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