Three weeks in Cuzco has gone by very quickly. Emil and I have have had such an amazing time. Tomorrow, we head to the jungle to volunteer for two weeks. We’ll be in the buffer zone at the entrance of Manu National Park. No electricity, no hot water, for two weeks.
We’re very excited.
Since I’ve last post we’ve had a chance to explore the city a bit more.
Last week I spent the whole week sitting inside recovering from salmonella (I’m fine now). Emil went to volunteer at the construction site, but I stayed home, all week. After sitting inside for so long, come last Friday, I finally decided to get out of the house and go for a walk.
Me, Emil, and our volunteer friend Rhianna decided to hike to a place called El Balcón del Diablo, the Devil’s balcony. This hike from Cuzco is barely mentioned online and is well off the beaten path. Unlike the dozens of out tourists attractions in and around Cuzco, this hike to a beautiful rock formation is not mentioned anywhere in town. It’s pinned on google maps, but there’s no description of how to get there online.
But we figured it out.
We first took a taxi to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman.
Emil and I actually went to these ruins last week, I just forgot to post about them. Sacsayhuaman (or also known as sexy woman) was a fort built by the Incas high above town. The visibility from the site makes it the perfect place for a fort. You can read more about this archaeological site here. The architecture of these ruins is beyond incredible. The stone is so perfectly cut.
Here are some photos from Sacsayhuaman.
Now back to the story of the hike to the Devil’s balcony…
The start of the hike actually starts at the top of Sacsayhuaman. At this point you’re already about 1,000 feet above the city, at an elevation of about 12,100 feet. The hike follows a dirt road to the left of the main road taken to get to Sacsayhuaman. You pretty much just follow the dirt road for about 45 minutes and you’re there. Thank god for google maps. The dirt road follows through a poorer part of Cuzco. Smaller homes made out of an assortment of materials, live stock roaming the street. Yet it did look like these homes had running water and electricity. It’s very easy to see the division of wealth in Cuzco if you just walk for a few minutes.
The walk was beautiful however. It got very quiet very quickly, and all of a sudden you’re hiking in the countryside, looking down on the city.
The view of Cuzco from this hike is incredible. Down in the city, you see surrounding mountains. But from above the city, you see the mountains flaten out. This is the Andean highlands. The Andean highlands start just north of Cuzco and extended south to Lake Titicaca. The elevation ranges between 12-13,000 feet.
After 45 minutes and a missed turn, we finally made it to the Balcon del Diablo. You actually end up on top of the rock formation. The hike tops out on a look out of a small river running back to Cuzco. Walking down a hill reveals a 200 foot some rock formation, with a small cave opening about 100 feet tall. This rock formation is incredible. I don’t know if any one has ever climbed here, but it would be a great place for crack climbing.
Walking down into the cave opening revealed a small stream, and a walkway about 30-60 feet long through the cave.
The opening is right by the tree in the bottom middle of the photo.
Overall a super cool hike. It was nice to do something off the beaten path. There was no one there when we got there, but several tourists arrived as we were leaving. Pretty cool to be very much alone in Cuzco.
Today, we have just been packing and getting organized to head to the jungle for two weeks. We will be volunteering for two weeks at an ecolodge called Tierra Linda. Here we will do tasks ranging from reforestation to trail maintence. Our journey to the frontera of Manu National Park will take between 6-10 hours by bus, depending on the weather and road conditions. At the reserve we will be about 20 min drive to the nearest town and will have no access to electricity or hot water. No blog posts for at least two weeks! I’m very excited to experience the jungle and have the opportunity to see different types of animals and flauna.
Our next month is going to be incredible. After the jungle Emil and I have planned a trip to Lake Titicaca and a trip to the town of Arequipa. In Arequipa we will be hiking in the Colca canyon, a canyon twice the depth of the Grand and the second deepest in the world. We also have two amazing climbs planned in the Cuzco region but I don’t want to give anything away…climbers superstitions…
For our last lunch in the city we decided to treat ourselves and head to the best burger place in Cuzco, Papachos. On the way to lunch we caught the end of a military parade. This was the first time we’ve seen the Peruvian military while in the country.
Here is myself, Emil, and our friend Alex, enjoying a nice lunch before the three of us head to the jungle.
Another treat today was finally getting a good view of Ausangante, the 20,000 some foot mountain that can be seen from the city. If it was clear everyday, we would see everyday it on our walk to work everyday. I’ve checked everyday to see if it it’s clear enough to take a photo. FINALLY after 3 weeks were we treated to a beautiful clear view. Good vibes for heading to the jungle.
This is not the last time we’ll be in Cuzco. Emil and I will actually come back to Cuzco about 5 more times for 1-2 days at a time in the next month LOL. Pretty much our home base for the next month.
We’ve been staying in an area of Cuzco called Santiago de Cuzco, more specifically in the neighborhood of Belenpama, named after the church (which is named after Bethlehem.) I really like this neighborhood because it was a real local neighborhood. People yelling to sell bus tickets to the nearby town, venders selling fruit and popcorn on the street, it is a local neighborhood. We are only a ten minute walk from the tourist area of town, but it’s been great to really get to feel the local atmosphere. I’ve truely loved it. Here are a few pictures from our street and neighborhood.
Tomorrow morning, another chapter begins. I’ll post in about two weeks about our jungle volunteer experience.
Looking forward to starry skies, big snakes and spiders.