Sacred Valley

Trip Start Jan 14, 2009
Trip End May 01, 2009

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Monday, March 23, 2009

We woke up this morning with bags already for the weeks adventure. Only allowed 6kg of luggage which will be carried by a Peruvian porter up the mountain, I surprisingly found the task of minimising ´stuff`quite easy. After a hearty breakfast we piled into our bus and met the other 16 or so people who we´ll be venturing with for the next week. Zoe and I are the youngest by quite a few years.

We were also introduced to our fantastic tour guide for the first time - Percy. Percy (actual name Percy) is originally from one of Peru´s many Quechan tribes. He became invloved with the gap year industry as it supports many of the Quechuan communities and I´m so glad he did. Percy Pig knows absolutely everything about his country and when he talks, he has the whole group entranced. His first revelation to the group was that it was tradition of the Incas to sacrifice the youngest girl if the weather becomes bad on the way to Macchu Picchu. Apparently it was an honour. Guess who the youngest girl is in the group....??!!

 After about 50 minutes of driving through INCREDIBLE mountainous landscape we stopped at one of the tiny Quechuan communties which is supported by our gap year company. There were about thirty of the traditionally dressed women selling the fruits of their labour with lots of alpacas, llamas and small children running about under their feet. We were also shown how they dye wool 100% naturally. It was fascinating how one herb or leaf  can turn a dull piece of wool into a vibrant red or deep purple. The colours they produce are spectacular and the market stalls all over Peru, as well as in this little community really are a harem of brilliant colours.
 I asked Percy if it would be rude if I asked one of the women if I could have a picture with one of their bowler hats on. Oh my god - I got the whole shebang. There are some hilarious photos of Zoe and I dressed up as the women. There´s one in particular with me dressed up and Zoe standing next to me...she looks lik shes standing next to a local!

 Next stop was in the Sacred Valley where did an hour and a half trek which Percy promised was easy. Hmm...the next three days of proper trekking will be very interesting! Percy stopped us at all the important archaeological sites and really the Incas were pretty amazing. They built structures far more advanced than anything today and in fact the only buildings that held strong and unaffected during a huge earthquake in Cusco in 1952 were the Inca settlements. Amazing. The remains of certain temples and civilisations are just beautiful. Percy told us that the importance of a building or settlement was determined by the masonry of the stone. All the most prestigious sites are carved perfectly with no rough edges. Im just left in wonder at how the Incas transported all the heavy stones. For each huge stone, it took about 200 of the little fellas to carry it from the quarry. Whoa. There perceptions of astronomy and time were also perfect. They built there windows in places to accomadate exactly for the winter and summer solstices.

 Once we had recovered from the steep uphill to the bus, we drove for a while, having siesta on the way, to a wonderful place for lunch. Filled with beautiful plants, a macaw, a squirrel in a cage and more llamas we ate lunch amonst finery. I also saw my first hummingbird suckling on a flower which was very cool.

 Here we are now at the final stop of the day...Ollantaytambo. Its a beautiful, small town filled with cobbled streets and is the last ´civilisation´ before we start the proper trail tomorrow. Last night in a bed before 3 nights of camping. I will enjoy it immensely. Along as the weather holds out and I´m not put forward for sacrifice, everythinh will be perfect.
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