Michele here….(Did I mention we are actually in Ecuador? And doing our best to catch up on the blogs.)
Our last day in Cuzco (May , we went on a very inexpensive ($13 each) all day tour of the Sacred Valley. The Sacred Valley area is incredibly beautiful. There are many small towns and villages within this huge valley and many crops growing in the surrounding valleys and mountain sides. At various points in our tour you could also see rivers in the valley and snow covered mountains. The tour consisted of visiting four main places – Pisac, Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, and Chinchero - but we stopped at a few viewpoints along the way.
Here is a picture we took early in the day at an overlook:
Pisac. We stopped at two markets on this day, the most famous one being the market in the small village of Pisac.
Pisac has a giant market for tourists and locals. You can buy almost anything you can think of here including fruits, fish, jewelery, sweaters, and my personal favorite – finger puppets. We went to the Pisac Inca Citadel by hiking 2 km up a hill. The citadel lies high above the village and when you are at the citadel you can see the market and the tiny ant-like people below. Unfortunately, neither Mike nor I got any great pictures of this Inca ruin.
Urubamba. The next place we went to was a village/town called Urubamba. We did not see any ruins here but rather just ate lunch in this small community and marveled at the scenary.
Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is a small, cool looking, town with cobble-stone streets and adobe houses. It has been continuously inhabited since the 13th century. The most prominant feature of this town is the massive Inca fortress that is built into the hillside. Sadly, when we were there, the fortress was completely in the shade and once again, we did not get any great photos of this Inca ruin either. However, the mountain opposite the one where the Inca fortress was built, was lit up in the sun.
We took a picture of it (shown below) and I will describe what you are seeing in this photo. The most obvious thing in the photo looks like a small castle. The teeny tiny holes you see are actually about 8 feet high because they are doorways into various rooms. At one point, this was thought to be a very important ruin but later it was determined that it was used as a storehouse for grains. Just to the left of the castle looking thing built into the hillside, you can see a face with what looks like a crown on top. The crown is actually made up of several buildings. The face is a profile with prominant eyes and nose, a grey beard, and curly hair (and again, the crown of three buildings is on top of the hair). Do you see it?
Chinchero. We arrived in Chinchero just as the sun was setting. The main thing to see here is an elaborate colonial church but we thought the market set up by the locals on the church grounds was much more interesting. Here is a picture of that:
On the way back to Cuzco, we saw more beautiful scenary such as these few homes with a snow covered mountain backdrop illuminated at sunset:
Our next stop after Cuzco would be Iquitos, Peru. The main reason for going to Iquitos would be to book a jungle lodge adventure in the remote Amazon basin. More on that in a future blog…
Tags: Category #28: Peru