The Sacred Valley and the Lost Cities

Trip Start Sep 22, 2010
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Trip End May 17, 2011


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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Peru was a great change of pace from the rest of SA we'd seen.  Loads of different cultures, incredible ruins, diverse scenery, some of the best food of the trip, and all at a fraction of the price we were used to by now.  We were in the Lima airport long enough to meet Lisa for her second appearance of the trip, yay, before we all flew to Cusco.

 Cusco is the jumping off point for Machu Picchu, but the 400,000 strong Andean city is a draw itself and the surrounding mountains and valleys are covered with Inca ruins.  We spent several days exploring the city, and the rest of our time taking trips into what's known as the Sacred Valley, visiting the villages and ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo.      

Visiting Machu Picchu is as good as it sounds, and honestly, probably better.  We were at the site before 6 in the morning, and wandered the incredible ruins for hours.  We also hiked up to the top of Wayna Picchu, which is the steep peak in the background of the traditional Machu Picchu photo.  There are even ruins of agricultural terraces and buildings at the top of the needle-like peak.  The location of Machu Picchu defies common sense, and the scenery alone, devoid of the ruins, is truly astonishing.   

If visiting Machu Picchu is a well-oiled machine, visiting the Choquequirao ruins is a donkey ride... if only we'd actually had a donkey.  This turned out to be one of the greatest adventures of our trip, and definitely the hardest.  We knew we were on the right track when we were the only gringos on the bus, and had to walk 2 hours from where the bus dropped us to the village where our hike would begin.  Locals recommended donkeys to carry our gear, but we'd already trekked in the Himalayas and Patagonia, so we knew better.  Long story short, we did not actually know better, and the hike left us sucking air, and in physical and mental pain.  Jay was delirious by the time we reached the site.  The reward was an incredible ruin, which was one of the last Inca strongholds, 6000 feet above the river below, and having to share it with literally only 10 other people.  Hiking 12,000 feet both up and down in 3 days was definitely worth it, but spring for the donkey if given the chance.        
 
 

       
     
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