Thursday March 14, 2013

After the pile-up of highlights we’ve had in the past week or so (Falklands, Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Machu Picchu), a final day in Cuzco might’ve seemed a bit of an anticlimax … but it turned out to be just the opposite.

Back-tracking a little, our Saturday afternoon flight from Lima to Cuzco took us up-and-into the rugged, cloud-scraping Andes – and, from our window-seats, we got a bird’s-eye view of what was in store for us, as coastal plains gave way to ever-steeper mountains, ever-deeper gorges, and (in the far distance) ever-higher snowy peaks and ridges.

Remote colonial Cuzco, set in one of those valleys, was the foremost city of the Incan Empire before the Spanish arrived – and today it plays host to hordes of tourists (just like us) who pass through en route to Machu Picchu. Massive Inca-built walls line steep, narrow, cobblestone streets … plazas and markets are thronging with local Quechua Indians, all decked out in colourful garments (and all trying desperately to sell us the same range of souvenirs and postcards) … and ancient treasures are carefully guarded inside colonial mansions and churches.

Over dinner one night, we were treated to a concert of Quechuan song and dance. And our guided tour yesterday got us up-close-and-personal with Koricancha (Temple of the Sun), the Plaza de Armas and the fabulous Cuzco Cathedral, and Saqsaywaman (pronounced Sexy-Woman), an impressive Inca Fortress built out of giant stones (the biggest weighing 125 tonnes) but largely wrecked by the Spaniards.

We strolled the streets, mingled with the locals, shopped for souvenirs, and took another 1000 photos before heading back to our hotel to pack (yuck) and rendezvousing with our Midlife Madness Farewell Dinner at the Calle del Medio Restaurant (yum).

Regrettably, all good things come to an end. And we’re currently at Santiago (Chile) Airport, awaiting our final 12-and-a-half hour flight to Auckland. We’ll touch down at 4:30am while you’re still catching zzzzz – so don’t bother coming out to welcome us home.

Phew, what an adventure we’ve had! And what stories we’ve got to tell! We’ve seen so much, done so much, learned so much, gained so much and laughed so much that we don’t know where to put it all!

“Gracias, South America …” Thank you heaps!


Yours bloggedly – JOHN & WAYNE

P.S. If following this travel diary has whet YOUR appetite and got you thinking, “Hey, I’D like to go on one of these Mad Midlife adventures!” … click on the TOURS list/logos on the right of this page, and read all about our upcoming schemes and dreams. Or go to our website: Or phone our travel colleague and booking agent, Roger Glynan (Lion World Travel) – tollfree 0800 277 477 – or email

PPS: Wayne and his wife Donna will be taking another group of Mad Midlifers to South America in two or three years’ time. Register your interest EARLY with Roger if this fabulous trip is one YOU’D like to do.

This entry was posted in 2013 South America by John Cooney. Bookmark the permalink.

About John Cooney

John Cooney and his wife Robyn have enjoyed more than their fair share of travel. They hesitate to call themselves ‘experts’ – but they’ve grabbed every chance that’s come their way to explore new countries, cultures and customs. They’ve had the privilege (both on their own and as the leaders of numerous successful group-tours) to sample many stunning destinations: Europe, the UK, Singapore, Vanuatu, the USA, Israel, Egypt, Africa, Dubai, China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. And their recent (and most pleasant) memories are of the places ancient-and-modern that border the Mediterranean. John and Robyn are at-home in airports, hotels, cruise ships, and the like … and they know how to make the most of a unique travel opportunity. Travel, they reckon, is an all-five-senses experience – a chance to see, feel, smell, hear and taste the world. And they’ve done it often enough to know for sure: sightseeing with a group of laid-back Kiwis is DOUBLE the fun – lots of laughs, great company, and memories that last forever!

3 thoughts on “CUZCO: MOUNTAIN TOWN

  1. Hi John, We really enjoyed getting this wrap up mate. You do it so well. I am typing using my Samsung tablet withj a new keyboard I have bought to work with it. I decided this was a much cheaper option than going out and buying a whole new laptop when this does what I need.

    I/we look forweard to seeing you guys soon (today)

    ciao Bro W

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