machu picchu llama

Photo Essay: Machu Picchu Llama

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Llama on the Loose; Machu Picchu, Peru

This diminutive creature lives in one of the most magnificent homes on earth.  He (or she – I’m not really sure) is a young llama that is part of a herd that roams wild at the historic sanctuary of Machu Picchu, high in the Andes Mountains in Peru.

I encountered this llama while exploring the ruins of what used to be a thriving city.  Machu Picchu was built around 1450 at the height of the Inca Empire.  It was abandoned by the Incas 100 years later and wasn’t rediscovered by the outside world until 1911.  Llamas, which are South American cousins of the camel, have been used as pack animals for centuries by Andean dwellers.  They also are a source of meat and wool.  

In 2007, Machu Picchu was voted one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” in a global Internet poll.  It’s hard to disagree.

I found it to be one of the most breathtaking places on Earth.  Literally.  Machu Picchu is nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, an elevation that takes getting used to.  I was short of breath and had a constant headache.

But these relatively minor maladies were well worth the payoff – a chance to view a well-preserved ancient city with a spectacular backdrop.

And seeing some wildlife – like this little llama – was an unexpected treat.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2013

Lake Titicaca Peru baby

Photo Essay: Lake Titicaca, Peru

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Baby on Peru Lake Titicaca Floating Islands

Baby on Floating Island; Lake Titicaca, Peru

My favorite travel photos aren’t of landscapes, ancient ruins, monuments or architecture. They’re of people.

That’s why I’ve chosen to begin my “Photo of the Week” blog with this picture I took on a trip to Peru. This youngster is a member of the Uros tribe living on the fabled Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca. These islands are made by stitching together the reeds of the totora plant, which the Uros also use to build their homes and fishing vessels.

As seen in this photo, the reeds also make handy pacifiers for infants.

About 2,000 Uros now live on Lake Titicaca, which straddles the border between Peru and Bolivia. These indigenous people, who predate the Inca civilization, make a living by fishing, weaving handicrafts and tourism. I reached the Floating Islands by taking a boat from the Peruvian city of Puno.

By far, Machu Picchu is Peru’s best-known tourist destination. And there’s no denying it’s a spectacular place to visit. But it was the Floating Islands on Lake Titicaca – and this adorable child — that left the most lasting impression on me.

Copyright © Dan Fellner 2012