Tag-Archive for ◊ Sacred Valley ◊

Views 08 Feb The Best Places to visit Carnival in South America
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Peru, Bolivia, Uruguay, Argentina

Carnival all over South America is approaching this weekend, and so wherever you are on the Spanish-speaking side of the continent, these are the best places to go:

Cajamarca, or, The Sacred Valley of the Incas (Cusco), Peru

Here you can take part in the cutting of the ‘yunsa’ – a big tree adorned with prizes up for grabs when it falls, and witness the extravagant processions and traditional music and dances. Cajamarca is known as the capital of Carnival in Peru, and is well worth the visit. Water fights will also be a bit feature in Peru, especially in the Andes. Kids and adults alike will be throwing water balloons on unsuspecting victims as they roam the streets. Just outside Cusco, the Sacred Valley has many towns that will be celebrating in the same way as Cajamarca, with a ‘yunsa’, just slightly more low key, so if you’re in the south, head to Cusco’s Sacred Valley and visit villages like Calca, Pisac, or Urubamba.

The Best Places to visit Carnival in South America
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Views 09 Ene Sights and ruins along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is without a doubt one of the most famed and challenging treks in Peru and known worldwide for its cultural content and natural beauty. Every year thousands of tourists flock to Cusco to embark on a four day trek to Machu Picchu, along a truly exceptional mountain trail, made hundreds of years ago by the Inca civilization. Besides the ancient trail itself surrounded by unique flora and fauna, trekkers will pass a range of magnificent archeological Inca ruins all with their own characteristics: 

Qorihuayrachina
The classic Inca Trail starts at Km88 at the location of the Qoriwayrachina, which was only discovered recently in 2001. The name is Quechua for ‘where the wind was used to refine gold’, and the site beholds many fascinating monuments and altars made out of stone.

Llactapata
Located at 2840m. above sea level, the next interesting site you can visit is thought to have been used primarily as an agricultural plantation. Llactapata, which is a combination of two Quechua words, ‘llacta’ meaning town and ‘pata’ meaning height.

Inca Trail
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Views 20 Dic Top 10 what to do for Christmas in Cusco!
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If you are lucky enough to be in Cusco throughout the festive season, you will have a chance to experience a Christmas very different than you are probably used to. Cusco will become the vibrant center point of celebration for Andean communities and tourist alike.

Soak up the spirit of Christmas in Cusco by following these suggestions and you are bound to have a very rewarding and magical Christmas time:

  1. Share chocolate and smiles.
  2. Every year, our partner AMAUTA Spanish School in Cusco organizes a chocolatada on the 22nd of December, to give something back to the less privileged. Join us while visiting an Andean community in the Sacred Valley and give these children a reason to smile by giving out hot chocolate, snacks, toys and clothes.

  3. Buy a saint or Emanualito.
  4. On 24th December craftsmen from all over the country will flock to the Plaza to transform it into the most charming and diverse Christmas markets of Peru: Santurantikuy .
    Purchase some last minute gifts, such as Emanualito a baby Jesus doll, and stroll along the hundreds of colorful stalls with a steaming hot punch.

    catedral

  5. Attend the Mass of the Roosters.
  6. On the evening of the 24th December the Cusco cathedral of Santo Domingo will open its massive doors for a stunning Christmas mass. The Misa de Gallo will finish around 11:30pm to get you home for midnight presents, as is the Peruvian tradition. It may be in an unfamiliar language, but it is the spiritual chance of a lifetime.

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Views 19 Dic Meet Manuelito at the Santurantikuy Christmas market in Cusco.
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Every year, on the 24th of December the central plaza of Cusco is the decor of the biggest Christmas fair of popular arts: the Santurantikuy market, where hundreds of artisans come from far away to display their beautiful and unique works inspired by the faith in their holy creator.

Santurantikuy literally means “The Selling of Saints” in Quechua, with ‘santu’ meaning ‘saint’ and ‘tikuy’ meaning ‘sale’, hence the often heard phrase of ‘cómprame un santito’ referring to the many saints, angels, wise men, pastors and other religious clay figurines used for altarpieces and nativity scenes. Without a doubt, the main character and emblematic patron of the Andean Christmas fair is ‘el Niño Manuelito’, better known as baby Jesus.

santuranticuy

The figure of Manuelito is often represented as a white boy with eyes out of glass and black hair obtained from the first haircut of a newborn baby. Perhaps because el Niño Manuelito or Tayta-Niño has been responsible for thousands of miracles in the Andean community, there is no lack of sentiments and nostalgia at the Santuranticuy fair.

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Views 22 May My Top 5 South America Travel Destinations
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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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Views 04 Abr An expat’s guide to Cusco, Peru: an interview with Richard Nisbet.
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Cusco is often called the “Navel of the World”; at least it was to the Inca’s, who made it their capital from where the four regions of their empire stretched for 1000 of miles. Richard Nisbet, an expat, author and Cusco connoisseur also calls it his home. Ever since he first visited Cusco back in 1975 he has been in an ongoing love affair with this extraordinary city. Nowadays, he only returns to the United States to visit family and friends from time to time.

Recently he wrote a book, ‘Cusco Tales’, which narrates his life story and adventures in this magical city that never seems to stop surprising you. You can purchase his book online on Amazon.com or over the counter at Paddy’s Pub, Jack’s Café, the Santa Catalina bookshop or the South American Explorers’ Club, all located in Cusco.

An expat’s guide to Cusco, Peru: an interview with Richard Nisbet

I started the interview by asking Richard about his Cusco favorites, and he didn’t hesitate enthusiastically share his recommendations. His new favorite restaurant is Limo, with some outstanding if unusual Peruvian – Japanese fusion meals overlooking the main Plaza de Armas. His favorite bar is Paddy’s Pub (good chance you will find him there if you like to have a chat). As for pizzerias, his pick is Mayupata in the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo, which is also his favorite nearby city escape. Another destination he likes is Tipon, home to an archeological site where the Inca’s worshipped the water abundant in this National Park.

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Views 06 Abr The Sacred Valley of the Incas
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After our first “lazy” day in Cusco, having drunk lots of “mate de coca” (coca tea) in order to prevent the “soroche” or altitude illness from hitting us, we were ready for our first excursion in the Cusco region: the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We had bought some notebooks and pens at a local store in Cusco so that we could hand them out to the kids that we would meet along the way. In fact, at our first stop along the road somewhere outside Cusco, children dressed up in traditional clothing were already waiting for us.

The kids try to draw the tourist’s attention with their colourful costumes in order to earn some soles in exchange for having a picture taken with them, while their parents sell handicrafts or clothing. You will come across many small markets along the route of the Sacred Valley, some only consisting of a few plaids on the side of the road with all kinds of craft products; others more “ structured” in the hope to attract big groups of tourists.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas
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