The cost of living in the central part of most cities tends to be higher than around the fringes. It is no different in Peru. Our first two days were in Lima. People who come from the more rural areas to find work in Lima most often live in the outskirts of the city. It has an urban population close to 9 million. The metro population is over 12 million. The topography around Lima is not mountainous and allows the city to spread out.
Cuzco is in a mountainous area. The population is about 435,000 and confined to a valley. New arrivals from rural areas looking for homes and work tend to live on the surrounding steep hillsides. Click this image for greater detail of the hillsides.
The day before our departure from Cuzco we visited two archeological sites – Tipón and Sacsayhuamán. There are many more sites in Peru. We feel drawn to return some day to see more of them.
Tipón Archeological Parque
We drove southeast from Cuzco about 14 mi (22 km) to the archeological site of Tipón. It sits 11,155 ft (3400 m) above sea level. Not very well known or visited by many tourists, it is important for the water control engineering of the Inca. The site is included in Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks of the American Society of Civil Engineers. The description of Tipón by ASCE can be read here. Highlights include:
Inca converted the site from previous users.
Aqueducts brought water to the terraced site.
Structures routed water in different directions to provide for efficient irrigation.
Subsurface drainage techniques ensured long-term integrity of the central terraces.
Petroglyphs pre-dating Inca thousands of years exist on top of Tipón Mountain.
Our access to the site was by a narrow switchback road from the Sacred Valley below. This Google Map image shows the road and site. An interactive map link is here. The highest elevations are at the top of the image.
It was morning of 16 Oct 2018. We started our journey to Peru the day before and arrived in Lima just before midnight. Our hosts met and delivered us to our hotel. This morning we enjoyed breakfast at our hotel and walked a few blocks for a view of the Pacific Ocean. This was certainly not ‘darkest Peru’. Lima is a large city of 12 million in the metro area.
We walked along the elevated path to another good observation point. To our surprise, we met Paddington Bear. This was a sign our trip was going to be full of wonder and surprises.