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 [email protected]

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.