Serene and I, together with Ray Woo, Bob McGrew, and Mihaela went on a trip to Peru in December 2004. We flew into Cuzco and went off the next day for a 9 day trek in the highlands. The highlights of the trek were Choquequirao at the beginning and Machu Picchu at the end. After returning from the trek, we took a bus to Puno and Lake Titicaca. This is my first extensive trip using my new Canon Digital Rebel with the Sigma 18-125 DC lens. The quality of the photographs increased as the trip progressed as I slowly learnt how to properly use a SLR.

Cuzco, Qenko, Sacsayhuaman  |  Total images: 49  |  Date added: 29 Dec 2004
We arrived in Cuzco (3300 meters or 10900 feet) on December 8th and left for our trek on the 9th. We returned to Cuzco on the night of the 17th and left for Puno on the 19th, before returning to Cuzco on the 21st. All our nights in Cuzco were spent in Hostel Marani. Although Marani is more expensive than a dormitory style hostel, we all thought it was excellent value. We visited some Cuzco museums and these were generally a let down. Even the Inca museum wasn't very good and the only exhibit they have worth the 10 sole admission fee is the mummy display. We have no photographs on the museums because they did not allow photography.
While in Cuzco, we visited the Inca ruins at Qenko and Sacsayhuaman, both of which are within walking distance of Cuzco. We thought these smaller ruins would be a anti-climax after visiting the grander sites at Machu Picchu and Choquequirao, but we were pleasantly proven wrong.
Cachora-Choquequirao-Yanama-Machu Picchu  |  Total images: 205  |  Date added: 29 Dec 2004
This trek is a 9 day trip starting from Cachora and ending in Machu Picchu. The route takes us through Choquequirao and several remote villages. We decided to do this combo trip because we wanted to see both Choquequirao and Machu Picchu and we were not keen on two separate trips. Especially since the standard 4 day Choquequirao trip is an out and back trail, which is repetitive.
We went with United Mice and I can't recommend them highly enough. Our guide Edgar was fantastic and it was hard to see how he could have done a better job. The cook Jaime and the trainee guide Ihidio also did a superb job in organizing the logistics of the trip.
We, however, underestimated how strenous this trek is. According to our guide Edgar, this trip (and also Choquequirao) is unpopular because it is hard. He told us that the Inca trail is relatively easy with the highest point at 4200m, and the trail can be done in about 4 to 6 hours by the locals, whereas this trail has significantly more elevation changes, has the highest point at 4550m, and the trail takes the locals about 4 days to complete. We also had to carry our own packs with all our stuff whereas people typically hire porters on the Inca trail. Serene and I overpacked on clothing and other knick knacks on this trip and as a result my pack weighed about 20 kg (44 lbs).
It rained every night and also during the day. Quite a fair portion of the trail was in really bad condition because it was the rainy season and it was a chore to slog through slick mud on steep trails. Also, the rain made several waterfall crossings in the later part of the trip rather perilous and it was quite scary crossing deep waterfalls using slippery logs and rocks. On the other hand, it was rather pleasant hiking in light rain because it kept us cool and our newly acquired clothes made of synthetics dried within minutes of clear skies. I wore the same pair of pants and Tshirt throughout all 9 days and washed them every 3 days or so in a stream or village hose. We never found out how far we walked each day because it appeared that the locals aren't even sure how long it is. On the other hand, we did know the approximate altitude changes during each day.
Puno, Sillustani, and Lake Titicaca  |  Total images: 48  |  Date added: 29 Dec 2004
We left Cuzco for Puno (3800 meters or 12500 feet) a couple of days after returning from the trek. The bus ride from Cuzco to Puno takes 6 hours on Cruz del Sur and was rather pleasant. Unfortunately, the return bus ride on Cruz del Sur was cancelled and we took the local bus, which although costs less than half the price, was rather uncomfortable and took an hour longer.
While in Puno, we took a local boat tour out to the Islas Flotantes on Lake Titicaca where the Uros people live. The Islas Flotantes are artificial reed islands that the Uros have lived on for some centuries. Lake Titicaca is South America's largest lake and also the largest lake in the world above 2000 meters. The next day, we hired a taxi to take us to Sillustani, which has many funerary towers called Chullpas that were created by the Colla people. The Collas were eventually absorbed into the Inca empire.
Museo de la Nacion in Lima  |  Total images: 18  |  Date added: 29 Dec 2004
We left Cuzco on the 21st at 1130 and arrived in Lima around 1230. We had till midnight for our connecting flight back to the US and we visited the Museo de la Nacion in San Borja near Miraflores. Compared to Cuzco, Lima is expensive and also not pretty. I wanted to but did not have time to visit the Inca ruins at Pachacamac. The Museo de la Nacion is excellent, far better than anything in Cuzco. We had dinner in Miraflores and that being our last day in Peru, Serene tried ceviche for dinner and it was excellent. At this point in the trip, I figured out how to take properly exposed photographs in manual mode, which was essential to taking good photos in the museum.