Today we woke up to go to the Sacred Valley. We packed the small suitcase and stored the rest of our luggage at the hotel before eating breakfast on the top floor of the hotel.
Our first stop was the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary. We saw many animals including macaws, cougars, and hawks. We also saw condors, which are endangered. They are so huge that I was quite frightened as I was taking a photo between two of them. All I kept thinking was “Just don’t move!”
We then headed into the Sacred Valley and the Pisac market. Here we were able to buy silver and alpaca wool souvenirs. Not only were these items for sale in the market, there were crafts people creating these good on site. Being the central market for the valley, there were also rows on top of rows of fruits and vegetables for sale.
Seeing the market really opens your eyes to the variety of food that is available in what we now call “heirloom varieties” like purple and red flesh potatoes and corn.
We also had empanadas that were freshly made at the market and saw guinea pigs which are a delicacy that is eaten at celebrations.
Once we left the market, we drove through the towns in the Sacred Valley that follow along the Sacred River. We saw many native people and their villages. They were going about their lives, washing clothes in the streams and making bricks from the mud to build houses.
We stopped in Ollantaytambo and saw the amazing ruins. We climbed up to the top of the temple and actually walked around the Inca Trail to get down. We then toured the ruins at the foot of the temple where the nobility lived.
What an amazing feat to cut and bring large rocks from far away with ramps, alpaca skin ropes and 1000 people per stone.
It is sad that it was incomplete because the Spanish conquistadors arrived and demolished the culture.
After visiting Ollantaytambo (which got its name from “Ollantay” who was a member of the nobility and and “tambo” means resting place) we were driven to our hotel in the village. The hotel was a group of houses with rooms on a beautiful piece of land with a stream, flowers and hummingbirds. This beautiful hotel even had llamas and alpacas on the grounds that would come up and greet you.
Tomorrow Machu Picchu!
Hotel : Hotel Pakaritampu
Reflections and tips :
- Bring tissue : The further that you travel outside of Lima and Cusco, the less likely there will be toilet tissue. The plumbing systems are not very advanced and for the most part they cannot handle tissue. I recommend bringing a travel sized facial tissue with you and remember to throw all tissue into the trash can and not the toilet. This is important because many of the streams, like the one at our hotel, actually double as the “sewer line”.
- Bring good hiking shoes : Even it you are taking the luxury route to Machu Picchu, like we did, bring good hiking boots double as walking shoes. Throughout the journey there are wonderful ruins that you can explore, and most of them, like those in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, require some climbing.
- Don’t miss out on the Sacred Valley : It is very possible to drive straight through the Sacred Valley without stopping to make it to Machu Picchu quicker. I would not recommend this. The Sacred Valley is an area still untainted from tourism. You will have the chance to visit markets and really learn about a culture that has not changed much. The beauty of the people that live within this area is an experience to have. Not to mention, at quaint little hotels, like the one we stayed, you can have breakfast with an alpaca or hummingbird. There is a great sense of peace and relaxation that sets you up for what is in store in Machu Picchu.