January 31, 2008
Birthday Trip to Llama Land

Susie and I travel over 100,000 miles each year. So when we have time between festivals, you’d think we’d jump at the chance to stay home and relax. But instead, several years ago I started reaching into our bank of frequent flier miles to go somewhere special for her birthday each December.

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to visit Machu Picchu – the “Lost City of the Incas”. But getting there isn’t easy.

Machu Picchu Panorama

Toronto Skyline

First there are the air tickets. To get to Peru on the Star Alliance, we had to go Portland - Las Vegas, Las Vegas - Toronto, and then Toronto -Lima. We had to delay until January to find seats. And then we had a long, very cold lay-over in Canada. Fortunately, some local friends gave us a warm reception and a quick city tour.

And all the way I'm humming Sinatra to Susie. "Come fly with me, let's float down to Peru. In Llama land, there's a one-man-band, and he'll toot his flute for you! Come fly with me, let's take off in the blue!". I think she found it cute -- at first....

The flights land in Lima at midnight and it is two am before a taxi gets you to the hotel. One full day in Lima and then you fly early to Cusco. All it takes there is one deep breath to gain a whole new appreciation of the Inca. The city is at 11,000 feet of altitude and visitors quickly get dizzy, short of breath, and headaches.

Lima Lima Lima

Sights in the Inca museums also take your breath away.

Lima Lima Lima

From Cusco, we can tour local towns and markets. We see buildings constructed on foundations of original Inca stonework and visit nearby ruins and Alpaca farms. But we can’t sleep unless we pay extra to have oxygen pumped into the hotel rooms. (Not making this up!)

Cusco Cusco Cusco Cusco

The important thing to remember about Machu Picchu, is that it is actually 3,000 feet lower in altitude than Cusco. That’s important because there are many, MANY steps to climb. It also is important to remember that we are in the Andean Jungle. The area is as high as Pike’s Peak in Colorado, but warm and humid. They call the surrounding area the “Cloud Forest”.

Machu Picchu Machu Picchu Machu Picchu Machu Picchu

We climb well-worn steps for a first panoramic view of the city. We’ve scheduled a morning tour, nearby lunch, and then a free afternoon in the ruins.

Machu Picchu was built in the 1400’s. The location is remote and well-hidden. It was thought to be a resort or retreat for elite Inca. Five hundred people resided here. Most structures are on a saddle-back on Machu Picchu Mountain and surrounded by a defensive wall. The familiar peak behind the city is called Wayna Picchu.

Machu Picchu Machu Picchu Machu Picchu

Inside the walls are homes, temples, and large ceremonial plazas and markets. Most structures are made of rough stone and cement. But more important buildings used the remarkable and impressive closely-fit stonework. Without metal tools, the Inca carved perfect rock joints and fittings. Just remarkable!

Outside the walls are agricultural terraces, storage areas, and military watch-points. Incredibly, soil was transported from the river valley below to make the gardens more fertile. The Sun Gate and Inca Trail lead off to the west.


Less than 100 years after the city was begun, Spanish invaded and took the Inca Capital in Cusco 50 miles away. Machu Picchu was abandoned and the residents left for safer venues. But the Spanish never found the city and it was only rediscovered by the English-speaking world in 1911.

Susan and I spent two glorious days in Machu Picchu and then began back-tracking toward Lima and the tedious flight home. Along the way, we made new friends, ate wonderful food, discovered delightful hotels, and gained new insights. The world is indeed a wondrous place!

We had regarded Machu Picchu as a once-in-a-lifetime trip. But it was too grand an adventure not to repeat. So Susie is already talking about how we can bring kites to Peru. If that piques (small pun) your interest, let us know if you'd like to....Come fly with us to Llama Land!

Machu Picchu Panorama

Check out the short video we took at the site. We've also just formatted a short kite film on launching any flying single-liners. Hope you like them both!

Tail Sale!

Someone called last week and said they needed more tail. I just bit my lip and listened....

But the truth is that every kiter needs tail and we have lots and lots of them. So let's mark them down for Update readers.

Order anything from our Streamers and Flat Tail pages and you get a 20% discount between now and February 10. That includes Transition Tails, Streamers, and Ribbons. Check them out and let me know.

All you need to do is mention the Update Tail Sale.

Tail Sale

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