Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes are at about 6,700 feet elevation, while Cuzco is closer to 11,000.
One thing that is really interesting is the local people’s attitude about altitude sickness. Any travel guide you read will tell you that physical fitness has nothing to do with preventing altitude sickness. There are even stories of really amazing Olympic athletes and ultra runners getting altitude sickness. However, our next door neighbor at our hotel was a futbol (soccer) referee, who was from Lima (sea level). He also lived in Monterey, CA and says the altitude doesn’t bother him because he “trains” for it by running. I’ve heard a similar sentiment from other locals. If you “train” you will be ok. Maybe there is somewhat of a mental component to it, and that’s why it helps them? Maybe just being born here is enough. Who knows. I do like Coca tea – whatever the case!
All over the main square, there are lots of women dressed up in traditional clothing carrying baby lambs and leading llamas. They are awfully cute, although I worry about the animals. There are also so many stray dogs that I want to feed, brush and give homes to.
Dinner was an awesome place that had “quinotto” – quinoa risotto. They also had a burger which I was hesitant to order, but was honestly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. My dad and I had half of each.
Saqsaywaman was our next spot. Huge structures in the middle of even bigger fields reminded me a little bit of Stonehenge. Only these sites have more explanations from archaeologists as to what the builder’s thought processes might have been.
This was the view of Cusco from the top.
Our final historical stop of the day was Qengo (sometimes spelled different ways or called different names). It is massive, and has deep caves inside with carvings on top. Possibly for burying the mummy of their God, Pachacutec, doing rituals, or both.