Ollantaytambo Travel Blog› entry 50 of 92 › view all entries
After a couple of days to enjoy Cusco we were taken on a guided tour of the Sacred Valley, which turned out to be a wonderful and unexpected highlight of the trip, and a great precursor to the Inca Trail.
We started with Sacsayhuaman, an Inca monument overlooking the city of Cusco (which, we were told, was built in the shape of a Puma which is one of the 3 sacred amimals in Inca culture, though it was pretty difficult to discern!). It was built from some pretty enormous stones (see the photo above of me and the biggest one to put the size in context, and although I´m not the tallest person around I´m sure you´ll agree it´s a pretty big thing to have transported many miles), which were carved to fit together perfectly, a tecnique which has alowed it to withstand the many earthquakes that have affected the area since.
We then travelled out of Cusco to Pisac, a huge Inca fortress so impressive in size, construction and the views from it that less informed visitors could mistake it for the much more famous Machu Picchu. We were told that in Inca times its importance was certainly greater than that of the Machu Picchu, and with the numbers of terraces surrounding it and the location - set above the large river runing below and the modern town of Pisac itself - this was easily believable. A great place both to explore and to admire its great location.
We then popped down the hill (thank God for our tour bus, my ankle was still not good at this point) to the modern-day twn of Pisac to eat lunch and be surrounding by numbers of young people trying to sell their watercolour interpretations of the local area.
I had only tried to be polite and practice the Spanish a bit when I was being shown every painting in one guy´s extensive collection. David from our trip helpfully asked how much for the whole collection, but the price of $1000 for the whole lot was a little outside my budget! But by this point I´d gone too far to leave without buying a thing, so ended up getting 2! Note to Simon: don´t talk to strangers without expecting to lose money!
Finally on our Sacred Valley tour we went to Ollantaytambo, aan attractive small town that had been founded in pre-Inca times and still seemed a vibrant little place overlooked by some more great ruins. These had been built into the steep mountain face, and were intended to celebrebate the face of God which could be seen on an opposite mountian-face. We visited as the sun was descending and rain in the distance created a rainbow, all in all a beautiful end to a really intersting day.