Skip to content

Arturo’s Adventures in Peru

June 11, 2013

Where in the world can you see a llama wandering around ancient ruins, take a boat across the largest lake in South America, and eat cuy (guinea pig) for dinner? Peru!

Waiting at DFW airport, ready to start the adventure!

Waiting at DFW airport, ready to start the adventure!

I recently took a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It was my first visit to South America, and since the Museum’s family mascot Arturo is from Peru, I thought it might be nice to take him along with me so that he could visit his homeland. He wasn’t very good at giving me directions, but we still had a good time.

View of Lake Titicaca with the mountains of Bolivia in the background

View of Lake Titicaca with the mountains of Bolivia in the background

Our first stop was Lake Titicaca—the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world. Arturo didn’t have any troubles at all, but when I first arrived, Peru literally took my breath away. Lake Titicaca is 12,507 feet above sea level, while Dallas is only 430 feet above sea level—that’s a big difference! Hiking around the island of Taquile, we could see all the way to the mountains of Bolivia.

Cusco

Cusco

Next stop: Cusco and the Sacred Valley. The Inca people built Cusco as the capital of their empire and created the city in the shape of a puma. Today Cusco is a mix of Inca ruins wedged between Spanish Colonial churches, cobblestoned streets, trendy restaurants, and llamas, llamas everywhere! My favorite part of Cusco was the food. We went to the market and discovered a fruit call lucuma. It tastes like butterscotch and caramel!

There are many archeological sites around Cusco, and one of Arturo’s favorites was Moray. There we discovered these huge circles dug into the ground. We aren’t sure what these were made for, but scholars guess that they might have been used for experimenting with growing different crops. Can you find Arturo?

On Day 3 of the Inca Trail

On Day 3 of the Inca Trail

Finally, it was time to hike the Inca Trail—which was definitely the highlight of the trip. We hiked a total of 38 kilometers (about 23 miles) over the course of four days to reach the ancient city of Machu Picchu. On day two, we went over the highest point of the trek—a mountain pass called Dead Woman’s pass at an elevation of 13,829 feet. Arturo got a free ride in my backpack, so it was no trouble for him, but I was definitely sore after going up and down more than 5,000 Inca steps. On day three, we had incredible views of the mountains and started hiking through the cloud forest.

First view of Machu Picchu

First view of Machu Picchu

We finally reached Machu Picchu on the last day just as the sun came over the mountains, and it was breathtaking. These ruins were discovered by the outside world in 1911 when Hiram Bingham, a professor from Yale University, was guided to the site by local farmers. Most scholars believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Incan emperor, but our trail guide thinks that perhaps it served as a university of sorts.

IMG_2705

Regardless of its ancient use, we were very excited to get there and were in awe of what the Inca people built. I think everyone should jump at the chance to visit Peru, but if a visit there is not in your near future, come to the DMA and take a look at our collection of Ancient American art–You’ll just have to imagine the mountains and llamas!

Sican culture, Ceremonial mask, A.D. 900-1100, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Sican culture, Ceremonial mask, A.D. 900-1100, Dallas Museum of Art, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc.

Leah Hanson
Manager of Early Learning Programs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: