Sacsayhuaman is a huge complex that would take several days to fully explore. It is known for its series of walls built out of extremely large, black rocks. Some of the larger rocks can weigh up to 125 tons. It is said that the walls used to be much higher, before the Spanish used the stone in order to build cathedrals in their colonial city. Sacsayhuaman is found outside of Cusco and was built by a Pre-Incan culture around 1100 A.D.
Raqchi is a site near Cusco and houses the Temple of the Wiracocha God. The temple is massive and is about 300 feet long. The foundation for the wall is over 10 feet high. There are the remains of the foundations of 11 pillars on each side of the wall, and there are ruins of living quarters around the rest of the site.
Cusco’s culture and architecture is influenced by Spanish and Incan culture. It was once the capital of the Incan empire, and there are many historic sites nearby. The population is over 300,000, but there are many tourists that visit.
The indigenous people of Lake Titicaca were very creative. Using only the reed common to the bay near Puno, they have constructed their homes and boats. They also use it for sustenance. Most impressively, they also created islands using the reeds. They make these islands by tying large clumps of the root of the reed together, and then piling the reed on top. The island that we visited was in an area of the lake that was 50 feet deep.
The Yavari is a ship on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. It was commissioned along with the Yapura in 1861. It was built in London, then dissembled in to 2,766 pieces. Once transported to Peru, it was carried by mule up to Puno, which is 12,500 feet above sea level. The transportation took 6 years, and the steamboat was finally launched in 1870. The Yavari was initially equipped with a 60 horsepower steam engine fueled by dried llama dung.
In 1914, the steam engine was replaced by a 320 horsepower diesel engine, and then in the 1950’s it was converted into an oil tanker. It has been elongated and resurfaced since then so it was hard to tell that it had been assembled from so many pieces. We were given a tour of the ship, and we watched them start the engine.
Sillustani is located on the shore of Lake Umayo, near Puno. The tall red towers are Incan tombs. There is also the remnants of a temple at the base of the hill. The foundation of the temple correlates with the solstices and equinoxes. While building the towers, they built ramps to bring the rocks to the next level, and then knocked the ramps down once the tower was complete. The stones are large, and it is impressive that they were able to shape it so accurately that the stones are flush to one another and some of the towers are still standing today.
Puno is on the shore of Lake Titicaca, over 12,000 feet above sea level. It has a population of about 100,000 people.
The Santa Catalina Monastery was built in the late 16th century, and was a convent for many years. In the 1960’s a series of earthquakes caused major damage to the structure. It was restored and then opened to the public. It is still used as a convent and is home to a few nuns.
Arequipa is home to over 900,000 people, and has distinctly Spanish colonial architecture. It is warm and dry, and cool during the nights. The Misti volcano is a well known feature of the surrounding landscape, and several members of the class took the opportunity to hike up its side.
The Nazca people built an extensive system of aqueducts in order to irrigate their crops. The area they lived in is extremely dry, rocky land with little to no surface water, and virtually no precipitation. It rains for approximately a half hour every two years. This forced them to dig down to the water table. They then dug tunnels to direct the flow of water to where they needed it. The holes down to the water have spiral walkways, which were possibly used to water their livestock, or make it easier to carry water out.