Sapphire Princess Day 19

Written by Safarigal
March 25, 2024


March 22nd, 2024

The ship docked in the port of Pisco at 5:30 AM, and at 6:15 we met with the rest of our tour group in the Explorers Lounge, handed over our carry on luggage, and headed ashore to our waiting coaches.

We had the 5 and a half hour bus ride to Lima airport ahead of us, and then we get to catch our flight to Cusco. Yay!

I don’t know what I expected to find in Pisco, but I was not expecting a desert. There was not a single bit of greenery to be seen. It was like something out of Dune.

Even the downtown had a bit of a post-apocalyptic look to it.

We drove through this scenery for hours, passing small villages that looked abandoned.

Finally we reached the outskirts of Lima. Great, I thought, it’s only been 3 hours and here we are in Lima. Not so fast. There is tremendous traffic congestion, and our guide warned us that it would take another 2 and a half hours to get through the traffic to get to the airport.

We slowly made our way through the suburbs and downtown area, and along the coast. The coast has steep black cliffs and there is a project underway to encourage the growth of creepers up a mesh on the cliffs to help prevent rock falls, and turn the rather stark rock cliffs into a sea of green.

I think it will look beautiful when the creepers have finally covered the whole area.

We finally arrived at the airport hotel where we were reunited with our bags and had lunch. Lots of quinoa. Then we checked in, and after quite a long wait our plane arrived, and we were ready to fly to Cusco.

We had a good view of Lima as we flew east towards the Andes.

Soon the flat monochromatic coast was left behind and we were in the verdant foot hills of the Andes.

Cusco is in a valley, but it is still 11,200 feet above sea level. Seeing as we live at sea level and have been on a ship for 3 weeks, this was quite an elevation gain.

We handed over our luggage to be taken directly to the hotel, and we were divided into groups of 8 to 10, and shown to our waiting minibuses and our guide, Maria.

Our first experience of the amazing Incan craftsmanship was at Coricancha. There is a Dominican Convent built over the Incan walls,

but some of the magnificent Incan stone work remains.

The remaining walls are amazing, the builders were incredible craftsmen. It still all looks like it is in pristine condition. I just loved it!

After this we drove through Cusco

to the main square, and the Cathedral. The cathedral is immense, and is really 4 churches in one. The original church was built on top of an Incan temple. It was later enlarged to its current size.

Then the main cathedral was built. This is a majestic, huge building with magnificent paintings and gold and silver side chapels. Then there is another church attached to the main sanctuary. I was so sorry that we weren’t allowed to take photos. It is difficult to describe the cathedral in words.

Firstly the style of the cathedral is impossible to pinpoint. There are certainly baroque and renaissance elements, but then there is also a little bit of gothic thrown in, and styles that we have never seen before. So it looks extremely random and over stimulating. There is simply too much going on. Some of the artwork is done by professional artists, but most is by local artists who knew little about Christianity but somehow managed to produce masterpieces. Their sense of perspective may be wrong, but they certainly got the gist of what a religious painting should look like.

The Virgin has a distinctively Incan pyramid look to her, and baby Jesus is all wrapped up ready for a journey up the steep Incan paths.

The Last Supper meal includes a roasted guinea pig (a local delicacy), and a Judas with very shifty Mona Lisa eyes.

A statue of Christ, known as the Lord of the Tremors, because the statue has stopped earthquakes and a cholera epidemic. usually lives in a side altar near to the main altar. Once a year, on the Monday after Palm Sunday, the statue gets to parade around Cusco in a special silver car (on display in another side chapel), and as the time was getting near for this procession, the statue had been taken out of the side chapel, and placed in front of the main altar.

The statue was brightly illuminated and surrounded by lilies and red velvet. It was truly an amazing sight. And the altar really did not look like any I have observed in a church during lent.

The fourth church adjacent to the main sanctuary, was built on top of an Incan drainage and water storage sight, so it suffers from constant damp. The murals were recently painted, but our guide pointed out that they would need to be re painted in a couple of years. Meanwhile it is a popular venue for weddings and baptisms.

I have been to churches and cathedrals around the world but this is certainly the most unusual I have ever seen..

After the Cathedral we had a short walk through the square to catch our bus. There is another large church on the square, the Jesuit church

And a collection of shops and restaurants.


would have liked to stay longer and really explored the area around the square, but dinner was waiting and we still had an hour and a half’s drive to our hotel. Even though we would be going up to 12,500 feet when we drove to the hotel, the hotel itself was at a lower elevation of 9,400 feet.

I had looked up the hotel, the Tambo Del Inka in Urubamba, as soon as I heard we were going to stay there, and it had looked amazing on its web site, with a fantastic pool and hot tub. I had packed my swim suit with great expectations, but on our arrival at 8:00 PM we were advised that dinner was waiting. I did have time to communicate with a baby llama in the lobby.

The food was great (quinoa again), and served at a leisurely pace so we weren’t finished until after 10:00. As we were leaving the dining room we saw one of the doctors from the practice where Brian used to work before he retired. How random is that. He and his family had just done the Inca trail. We made an arrangement to meet tomorrow night after dinner.

With all of this travel and high altitude I was certainly ready to retire to our room. Even too tired to go for a swim. I just went straight to bed.

Post Discussion


  1. Lynda

    Love the baby llama
    Hope the alpaca scarfs are still a bargain – great Xmas gifts
    So happy to travel thru ur eyes
    They don’t miss anything
    In awe of your boundless energy

    • Safarigal

      The alpaca scarves and gloves are still a great bargain and I love the bright colors. SO much to buy, so little money!

  2. Frances Morrier

    Thank you for taking us along. Love hearing your commentary on places I haven’t seen.

    • Safarigal

      I must say I am loving South America – so many interesting places to visit and fun things to do!

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I love to share my adventures with others, and hopefully give them some insight into what to expect on their own exciting travels. I hope reading my blog will be a useful resource, and inspire others to follow their travel dreams. As a travel advisor, I get great pleasure out of being able to help folks fulfill their aspirations by translating my experience in safari adventures and ocean voyages into memorable travel experiences for them.