The Sacred Valley

Cusco Travel Blog

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Me in Pisac.

The one day tour. I was Picked up by the tour bus at around 9 am. There was about 18 of us in a small, tall and comfortable tour bus. Germans, Brits, Spaniards, Ausies and an Israeli couple -- I’m pretty sure I was the only American. There was the driver and a local guide with a thick accent. We headed straight to Pisac, the first location on our tour, about 50 minutes away. It is a small indigenous town outside of Cuzco. The drive there goes through some pretty majestic views of valleys and mountains. On the way there we stopped once to take a scenic valley picture, the moment I stepped off the bus there were locals trying to sell me curious, food and Gatorade. Once we arrive at Pisac we all got a taste of what hiking in these altitudes is like.

Ollantaytambo
The first thing you notice is the really cool agricultural terraces that the Incas built back in the day, beautifully long curving strips wrapping around mountains. Each is complete with still functioning steps and irrigation ditches.

We hiked some pretty steep paths to what used to be one of the Inca´s  urban centers and temples. The layout is still pretty obvious and some of the walls are somewhat intact. I am amazed that you can just walk in them -- not great for preservation but good for tourism. The site offers just more and more over every hill, Sun temples, guard towers (more like immigration checkpoints), royalty enclaves, etc., lots to see. We spent about 2 hours there. Climbed back to the bus, but not before trying some street food from an old lady selling large kernel corn boiled with salt and cheese.

Lunch.
Not bad, although I kept hoping I was not going to spend the rest of the day running for a bush.

The next stop was another town (don’t remember the name) for lunch. It was a buffet style service that was surprisingly tasty along with some live local music but uneventful.

The next stop was Ollayantambo (about 50 minute ride). The town is as close to a preserved living Inca town as you can get (with internet cafes of course). Small cobblestone alleyways tightly packed with small indigenous businesses, hostels and houses. When we arrived there was a town meeting/politically rally going on in the town square, entertaining to see all the towns people dresses in their Sunday’s best  indigenous outfits in the crowd. The town is in a valley and it is overlooked by a very impressive Inca fortress/religious temple. The moment you are at the foot of the temple, the enormity of it all hits you. It is huge! You begin to notice some people crawling like ants among the ruins. A steep climb to the top and you begin to get a glimpse of spectacular things, like the size of the carved stones -- car size.  The temple was never completed by the Incas since the Colonization of the Spaniards began, but it is also the site where the only Inca victory in battle versus the Spaniards took place. By the way, having a guide is great -- great information if a little hard to make out what he is saying. I particularly like that he likes to draw diagrams on the ground with a stick or stone for visual aid. After spending about an hour and half inthe place, which is not nearly enough to se it all, we head out to our last stop.

The last town (which I can’t remember the name right now) was up in the mountains. More of a local village than a historical site (although there were some ruins (more to come)

 

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Me in Pisac.
Me in Pisac.
Ollantaytambo
Ollantaytambo
Lunch.
Lunch.
Cusco
photo by: Vlindeke