Episode 44: the sacred valley & the machu picchu

Peru: the sacred valley & Machu Picchu

Our days in lake Titicaca were over and we left Eiji, who wanted to extend his stay, to take a bus to Cusco, the 3rd city of Peru. Cusco is big and super touristy but the plazas, Mayor, Regocijo or San Francisco are nice and well kept. The Plaza Mayor with its churches is as usual the main attraction. But we didn’t stay in Cusco, we chose Gringo Wasi B&B in Huarocondo located 37km from the city instead. We took a lot (tons!) of collectivos (mini vans) to go around and we enjoyed our time spent in the public transportation with locals. They were astonished to be seated close to Gringos and were always asking about our destination thinking we were heading in the wrong direction. Real fun (and sooo cheap)!

Day 1

We went to the Sunday Market of Izcuchaca, the town nearby. No tourists here. Lots of vegetables and food stalls to have either grilled or deep fried chicken or trout, as always with potatoes and choclo as side dishes.

Peru, ruins @ Pisac

Peru, ruins @ Pisac

Day 2

As said we almost took exclusively public transportation to visit the area and the Sacred Valley of Peru. That day we decided to go to Pisac ruins via Urubamba to visit the Inkariy Museum. The museum is interesting and list the different tribes and civilisations before the Incas era. Every tribe has its own dedicated wing. We then visited Pisac ruins but before that we met Eiji who was wandering in the streets of Pisac totally by surprise! We had a quick lunch and took appointment for dinner in Cusco town. We hired a taxi to bring us to the Pisac fortress and decided to reach the village down by foot once we finished our exploration of the site. 2 bus and taxi later we arrived in Cusco and had a well deserved hamburger to celebrate this great day.

Peru, the terraces @ Moray

Peru, the terraces @ Moray

Day 3

We explored the site of Moray, the salinas of Maras, Chinchero’s ruins and the Huaypo lake with Lyle, the owner of the Gringo Wasi B&B. Moray is an inca site of circular terraces probably built for agricultural research purposes. The Salinas is an open salt mine where ponds are filled with high salted water coming from the mountains (the remains of an ocean millions of years ago) and let evaporate to collect the salt on the surface. Chinchero has a beautiful colonial church with painted ceilings and an Inca ceremonial site. We finally stopped by the Huaypo lake before going back home.

Peru, the open salt mines @ Maras

Peru, the open salt mines @ Maras

Day 4

We headed to Cusco town to meet Eiji one last time before his flight back to Japan. We took sometime in the morning to visit the Regional Cusco Museum and go on a shopping spree for a baby alpaca jumper.

Peru, the ruins @ Chinchero

Peru, the ruins @ Chinchero

Day 5

Time to GO TO MACHU PICCHU! After a quick ride to Ollantaytambo the main train station to Aguas Calientes also called Machu Picchu Pueblo, we embarked our train and after 1,5h reached our destination. The city is rather ugly but nobody stays here very long anyway, we are all here to see one of the World’s Marvels, MACHUUUU PICCHUUUUU!

Peru, the train station @ Aguas Calientes

Peru, the train station @ Aguas Calientes

Machu Picchu

Lots of people here yeah, lots of tourists from every part of the world, yeah BUT HEY this is sooo beautiful! We didn’t start very early but took one of the last buses to go down to the village. We spent an entire day hiking up and down and up again and again. Being the rainy season we got wet at some point but it didn’t bother us. Our prayers were fulfilled, we even got some sun in the afternoon.

Peru, the ONE & ONLY MACHU PICCHU

Peru, the ONE & ONLY MACHU PICCHU

After two days in Machu area, we stayed in Cusco for our last hours in Peru and enjoyed the city quite a lot. Plenty of restaurants to chose from and a few ruins very close by, kept us occupied before leaving for Ecuador.

Peru, view @ Ollantaytambo

Peru, view @ Ollantaytambo

we specifically enjoy

  • The Sacred Valley, visitors should allow more time to go around Cusco, there is so much to see and do!
  • THE MACHU PICCHU OF COURSE!, even if the place is UBER touristic, this can’t be missed while visiting Peru!
Peru, alpacas @ Ollantaytambo

Peru, alpacas @ Ollantaytambo

accommodations

  • Huarocondo/Cusco: Gringo Wasi B&B, a guesthouse owned by Lyle & Lily Walker an american-peruvian couple. We had a great time in the village, the room was large and confortable. Very quiet at night. Lyle helped us arranging visits and recommended restaurants in the area.
Peru, Plaza Mayor @ Cusco

Peru, Plaza Mayor @ Cusco

restaurants

  • Cusco: special mention to two vegan/vegetarian restaurants, the Organika & the Green Point.
  • Cusco: la Sangucheria 154, excellent hot sandwiches and salads, super friendly staff.
  • Cusco: Papacho’s for a good and juicy hamburger or filling salads.
Peru, ruins @ Sacsayhuaman

Peru, ruins @ Sacsayhuaman

best kept secret tip

We were told a few times to not go too early to the Machu Picchu and to stay longer in the afternoon. The groups tend to visit early in the morning as they have to return to Cusco or other places before the night. Also this is due to train schedules they do not want to miss their train. We definitely stayed until the last moment on site and enjoyed the site almost to ourselves from 2:00pm…

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