The Majestic and Sacred Peru

 
 Photography by  Caroline Koehler , Film Scans by  Photovision Prints

Photography by Caroline Koehler, Film Scans by Photovision Prints

The greatest gift in life is to experience. For me, I experience life through my travels. When the opportunity arose to visit Peru I had to jump right in and go! My sister had been studying in the country for four months, after her program, we decided to travel around and visit different towns, cities and ancient ruins and sites. To experience true, raw culture is to take a step back in time, a place where modern technology isn't present at every turn.

The city of Cusco in the Cusco region of Peru was the perfect starting point for our journey, a city where indigenous and modern peoples live together and combine ancient cultural practices with modern techniques.

From there we visited Pisac, a small agricultural village surrounded by terraced Andes mountains and the best market around! You will find the most beautiful stone streets, stucco houses, amazing coca tea (great for elevation sickness), colorful textiles hanging from the market booths, fresh fruit and food from the local indigenous women in the village center, and much more. If you are lucky some of the women may let you pet or even hold their baby alpacas!

You can so easily spend several days in Pisac, traveling by bus is easiest and cheaper than hiring a taxi or uber! Travel with the locals, we traveled by bus hopping through the countryside, it is cheaper, easier, and way more fun! Why not really immerse yourself in the culture?

From Pisac our travels lead us to Machu Picchu! Machu Picchu City is at the helm of the mysterious rainforest where the ruins lie high above the clouds. Mostly created for tourism, it is nice to explore, sip some coca tea at a cafe, and anticipate the opportunity to see the most incredible ruins in all of South America! This ancient city is difficult to get to, you can only get there by train or by hiking the Inca Trail, but going in the winter time was the perfect decision because the ruins were virtually empty! Machu Picchu, words just really can not describe how awe-inspiring it is; when you get there you constantly are thinking, is this really happening? 

Walking through the ruins is like being transported to another world high in the clouds. The perfectly cut stones, ancient ceremonial sites, and terraces show the ancient traditions and practices of the culture during that time. If you are lucky you may even see a llama or two on the terraces grazing or scaling the mountainside! 

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Between the bus hopping and speaking very broken Spanish (at least for me! my sister is fluent) with the locals, sipping coca tea, eating incredible food, walking through the ancient streets created by the Incans, and creating lasting memories, the Peruvian experience had been nothing short of incredible!

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For the final excursion on our trip, we decided to hike Humantay, a sacred lake on Humantay Mountain in the remote areas of the Cusco Region in Peru.

This hike was not like most other hikes though, our guide was indigenous and grew up in the area, his extensive knowledge of that area's ancient practices helped us understand the land and people even more deeply and thoroughly. See Humantay is the 2nd largest peak, right next to it, Salkantay, is the largest peak. The mountains provide clean drinking water to the surrounding villages and towns, they are viewed as Gods, or Appu.

On Appu Humantay though is the sacred lake of Humantay, you can not touch this lake, drink from this lake, throw anything in it or swim, you can not touch the water at all to this day. It is sacred to the locals and has been for centuries, providing them with clean water and bountiful crops. It is beautiful, to have a place so sacred no one can even touch it, the clear ice blue water captivating everyone who views it.

This place, this lake, everything about it is so magical, it moved me to tears, like sobbing tears. It has an effect on everyone who comes to witness its glory. Untouched, untainted, absolute natural beauty, rocking you to your very core. It is these experiences that can change peoples lives, and Humantay changed mine. In honor of the mountain, our guide had us all give an offering of 3 coca leaves, we hid them where they would not be disturbed after we left the lake, Appu Humantay showed it's face after being shrouded in mist all afternoon. 

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Peru left me speechless, the natural beauty, history, culture, and people were all amazing. This is a trip most do not often take, so I am glad I was able to go off the beaten path and create new experiences, I hope that my journey can show how beautiful and captivating Peru really is, and I really encourage everyone to visit some day!

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