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Sacred Valley

Outside Cusco in the Andes Mountains lies the Sacred Valley. We spent from sun up to well past sun down exploring this historical area in Southeast Peru. We thought this would be a proper way to learn more about the Incas while also preparing for the physical demands of our four day Machu Picchu hike.

We started our day running late due to Greg being on the usual “Dietz Time”. So after briskly jogging to Naty’s Travel Agency, we boarded a bus full of tourists from Brazil, Ireland, New Zealand, Mexico, and France to find the last two separate seats available. We had an hour drive until our first stop though it felt like eternity. An impatient Peruvian child sitting in front of me was spending his time closing my curtain or reclining his chair so that I couldn’t move. I swear he was doing this to spite me. Our first stop was an artisan market filled with alpaca sweaters/hats, clay pottery, and dolls. Uninterested, Greg and I walked through the small shops then investigated a South Korean supported artisan workshop. Back to the bus… this time we got seats together… away from the obnoxious kid.

PisaqPisaq in the backgroundAndes Mountains

Our second stop were the ancient ruins of Pisaq. These ruins were set high atop the mountains and were an impressive spectacle. The Incas used the Pisaq area for three purposes: military, religion and agriculture. There are remains of numerous watchtowers built into the mountain that were used to protect the capital city of Cusco from rural invaders. The narrow walkways up Pisaq were a little nerve wracking so if heights aren’t your thing, the ground view ought to suffice.

Not so goodDuring this tour we met a Kiwi named Jonathan who was kind enough to instruct us on the capabilities of our Canon camera. We had a ball exchanging travel stories over a negotiated lunch and even made plans to spend some time in New Zealand with him and his wife, Haley, in December. We can’t wait!  Greg also tried some interesting Peruvian spirits.

The next stop was another Inca archaeological site, Ollantaytambo. At an altitude of 9,160 feet above sea level, this ruin was the most impressive so far. Inca Emperor Pachacuti utilized this spot as his royal estate. Alongside his wife, he would sit high above his kingdom and watch his fellow Incas work day and night. Ollantaytambo took over 100 years to construct and it would take between 50 and 80 men to move a one ton rock. To see and touch these ruins makes you truly appreciate the Inca’s ambition and wherewithal.

OllantaytamboThe Emporer's seatOllantaytambo

On our way back to Cusco, we stopped at the local market in Chinchero. Here we watched how local people make sweaters, hats, blankets, etc. from Alpaca fur. We couldn’t leave this place without purchasing something (teddy bear) after watching how long it takes to make each item. For example, one small rug takes over a month to make. While watching the process of cleaning the Alpaca hair, the local artisans provided some hot tea for us to enjoy on a chilly night. I took one sip and quickly realized my stomach would not handle it. Throwing caution to the wind, Greg joyfully imbibed. Two hours later he was paying homage to the porcelain God while I slept soundly. Always trust your instincts!

If Machu Picchu is what brings you to Cusco, the one day Sacred Valley tour is a real dandy to prepare yourself.

- Ash


  1. When booking a Sacred Valley tour, shy away from the lunch included option. If included in the package, lunch will run you $10, but upon arrival Greg was able to negotiate lunch for $7 and a free drink!

  2. Bring warms clothes along as it gets darn cold after sunset – this is true for all areas around Cusco.

  • Kurt Strube

    Taptain Turt just wanted to let you two know that I am enjoying your reports of your travels. Take Care!!

    Love, Taptain Turt

  • Kurt Strube

    Taptain Turt just wanted to let you two know that I am enjoying your reports of your travels. Take Care!!

    Love, Taptain Turt

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