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    • Day 284

      The Sacred Valley

      September 26, 2022 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 13 °C

      We rented a car for just 2 days to explore the Sacred Valley and see a few more sites. The driving here, luckily, is not as crazy as in Lima but we will need to use our horn wisely. Our first stop is the small old village of Chinchero, built in the mountains. Its main attraction is an archeological site which is a series of agricultural terraces and a church complex dating from the Spanish period but built on top of an Inca base. It was nice to see a less touristic place and we even had a quick chat with the local police who interested to know if we liked their town, or maybe they were just happy to see some tourists had made it here.

      After a bumpy ride we arrive at our second stop, the ruins of Moray. This is a peculiar site constructed down into a gully with fully circular terraces. The site dates from the pre Inca times and its use isn't known for sure. Theories range from an alien landing site to an agricultural research site. We tend to believe the latter but we will never know! What we know is that this site looks quite unique and different from the others we have seen and its location in the middle of the high mountains is magical.

      Another bumpy ride (the way back) and we reach the village of Maras a very old little rural village. The main square is very small and very busy, there is a line of women in traditional clothing and a lot of them with babies on their backs queuing for something...when we get closer we saw that they were all waiting to get live guinea pigs! It is considered a delicacy here, a meal mainly eaten for festivities. After a nice lunch, without Guinea pig, we take to the road again to see a salt mine. Very different from the one that we visited in Colombia, this mine was constructed pre Inca times. They use a salt water spring which comes straight out of the mountain and with a series of irrigation canals, direct it in different pools. Once the water evaporates the salt is collected and the pools refilled. The sheer amount of pools cut into the side of the mountain create a surreal landscape and a huge quantity of salt! Very impressive!

      Last stop of the day, Urubamba down the valley where we are spending the night. It's nice to be below 3000m for a a change, the air almost feels lumpy! After a quiet night we're back on the road and heading back up the Sacred Valley to the town of Pisac for, you guessed it, some more Inca Ruins! Built during the 15th century it was thoroughly looted by the Spanish during their conquest, all of the treasures were removed but the site, high up on the mountains still has one of the largest agricultural platform structures as well as impressive housing, temples and even some ceremonial alters carved into the granite. It's quite high up so there are some impressive views down into the valleys as well.

      Next stop is to an animal sanctuary further up the valley, it is always sad to see animals in cages but these animals have all been rescued and are in the process of rehabilitation in the hopes of finally being released back into the wild. We had a little tour from one of the keepers and it is instantly obvious that the staff here really care about the animals and their welfare. They shelter houses all kind of animals, some Vicuña, Llamas and Alpacas (we expected) , but they also had some macaws, that needed to sleep inside at night because of the cold! The most impressive animals they had though were Condors (that flew very close to us!) and spectacled bears!

      Back in the car and we're heading back to Cusco for the night before we move on. Our little trip around the Sacred Valley has been thoroughly enjoyable, it was nice to see some local towns and villages and get a sense of what life is like in this part of the world, both today and in the Inca times. We're sad we didn't have longer here but there is always something else to discover.
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    • Day 115

      Aguas Calientes

      March 15, 2023 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 25 °C

      Het begin van ons Machu Picchu avontuur! Vanochtend om 8 uur vertrok ons busje vanuit Cusco naar het treinstation van Ollantaytambo, om vanuit daar met de trein naar Aguas Calientes te gaan, het dorp waar vanuit je Machu Picchu kan bezoeken. Aguas Calientes ligt tussen de bergen aan Rio Urubamba en is alleen te voet te bereiken, of met de trein. Vandaar dat het ook vrij dramatisch was voor de mensen die daar vast zaten tijdens de rellen, de treinen reden immers niet meer.

      Hoe dan ook, alles is weer grotendeels normaal! Eerder kon je nog vanuit Cusco rechtstreeks naar Aguas Calientes, maar om voor mij onduidelijke redenen is dat niet meer mogelijk, behalve voor heel veel geld. Ollantaytambo is een mooi klein dorpje, maar lijkt grotendeels in het teken te staan van het treinstation waar alles toeristen zich verzamelen. Er zijn twee verschillende treinen die in Peru rijden, PeruRail en IncaRail. Wij namen IncaRail, dat een nogal toeristisch tintje bleek te hebben 🙃

      Begeleidt door drie mensen in kleurige kleding, dans en geschreeuw en andere toeters en bellen, liepen we naar de trein die maar uit twee wagonnetjes bestond. En jawel, onderweg kregen we nog een show in de trein, die opgevoerd werd door de twee verkleedde medewerkers die meegingen in de trein. Maar eerlijk is eerlijk, de uitzichten (altijd weer die uitzichten...) tijdens de rit waren niet niks!

      Aguas Calientes is een dorp dat pas echt tot stand kwam in 1940, toen de aanleg van het treinspoor was voltooid en er veel toeristen naar Machu Picchu begonnen te komen. Dat het voor toeristen is gemaakt is te merken, want ongeveer elk gebouw is een hotel, restaurant of iets van die aard. Één gedeelte voelt nog wel een beetje aan als dorp, namelijk het deel waar de lokale bevolking woont. Toen we aankwamen viel ons op dat het dorp verrassend rustig was. Machu Picchu is natuurlijk the place to be in Peru, maar dat was er qua aantallen mensen niet echt aan af te zien. Zo waren we bijvoorbeeld de enigen in ons hotel, wat ook een beetje apart was.
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    • Day 11

      En route pour le Machu Picchu

      August 11, 2019 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

      Cette voie ferrée a été créée en 1934, lorsque le Machu Picchu a commencé à être une destination touristique. Le train panoramique est un véritable bonheur. Il longe une rivière et nous quittons les montagnes pour l'Amazonie, en moins de 2 heures!Read more

    • Day 21

      Ollantaytambo - Town, Mama Simona B&B

      June 15, 2022 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 63 °F

      Ollantaytambo is a cool little town in a valley surrounded by very impressive Incan ruins on the mountainsides. The Incan Old Town is pedestrian only with narrow cobblestone streets that twist and turn, with little shops and hotels and mini- markets. I wish we'd had more time in this peaceful, relaxing place.

      We loved Mama Simona B & B. It was a beautiful place next to the river, very clean, nice breakfast, laundry service, very hot showers (best in Peru so far), and they even had a hair dryer to loan out. First time I've dried my hair in 3 weeks. Only bad part was the barnyard party going on all night. ( Donkey was the main culprit).
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    • Day 4

      On to cusco

      November 10, 2022 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Today we fly to Cusco and then transfer to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. One of the group has been telling everyone that the airport is in the top ten of most dangerous airports which hasn't helped a few of us.
      Hopefully today we plan to visit Ccaccaccollo, to see the ancient art of fabric weaving assuming all goes well.
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    • Day 128

      Ausflug ins heilige Tal

      January 2 in Peru ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

      Für eine Nacht führte uns der Weg ins heilige Tal, in dem es wirklich sehr viele Inka-Ruinen und Ruinen anderer Kulturen gab. Wir nahmen Elleen und Johannes in unserem Auto mit und fuhren erst nach Pisac, eine große Ruinenanlage mit Begräbnissstädte. Dann gabs Mittagessen und wir fuhren nach Maras, zu riesigen Salzterrassen, die auch schon seit der Inkazeit zur Salzgewinnung genutzt wurden. Dieser Ausflug war sehr interessant, da diese kleinen Salzseen heute noch einzelnen Familien gehören, die sich dann um Abbau und Instandhaltung kümmerten und sich für Reinigung und Vertrieb zu einer Art Verein zusammen schlossen.
      Nach diesem anstrengenden Tag ging es dann zu unserer Unterkunft, wo wir im Auto schliefen und Johannes und Elleen eine kleine Hütte bekamen.
      Gestärkt von einem „Super Desayuno“, also einem tollen Frühstück, wie die Besitzerin ihr Frühstück mehrfach anpries, ging es dann nach Chinchero. Dort gab es mehr Ruinen zu sehen! Immer noch beeindruckend, aber nach den dritten Ruinen, sahen dann irgendwann alle gleich aus. Also ging es am Nachmittag für Matthias und mich zurück nach Cusco und für Johannes und Elleen ab zum Machu Picchu.
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    • Day 8

      Sacred Valley Horse Tour

      July 1, 2016 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Today we rode Peruvian Paso horses through the Sacred Valley of the Andes mountains. The views were stunning! Our tour guide for today and tomorrow's adventures is Willy. He is very nice and knowledgeable.
      We rode an hour out, to Moray, a huge earthwork that is essentially circular stacked levels of earth used by the Incas as a testing ground for plants. There is a significant temperature difference from the top to the bottom and therefore different plants thrived at different levels.
      We had lunch in a tent overlooking the valley. Not a bad picnic spot! Food was made by a chef who works for the today's tour company and it was delicious - beef, quinoa, veggies and apple pie for dessert.
      On the way back we were able to ride a bit faster, but despite our understanding that Paso horses have a particularly smooth gate, it felt just like a trot to me! May have a sore behind tomorrow but still very much worth it!
      Next we went to the Maras salt mines - 3000 small pools of mountainous salty spring water that are dried so that water evaporates and leaves salt. We bought some pink salt on our way out which is supposed to be great for BBQ.
      We rested at the hotel in the late afternoon and ate dinner at the hotel. Dave had the Peruvian delicacy of fried Guinea pig (for $20!). Ken and I opted not to try it. There wasn't much meat there to try! And they included a shot of anise afterwards to "help the stomach" after eating it. More card games after dinner and off to bed...
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    • Day 22

      Cusco vers Urubamba

      January 18, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

      Aujourd'hui, entre Cusco et Urubamba, nous nous sommes arrêtés à Pisaq situé à 33 km de Cusco. Nous prenons donc le collectivo qui nous coûte 8 soles pour 1h de transport (environ 3$ pour les 2!). Pas très cher vous le constaterez. Arrivés à Pisaq, nous prenons un taxi qui nous amène en haut de la montagne où il y des ruines de bâtiments religieux, de cultures et urbains. Il ont été construits à l'apogée du règne des Incas et c'est très impressionnant de les voir tout au haut de la montagne! Les champs en terrasses sont aussi bien présents, lesquels étaient utilisés à l'époque pour faire pousser tous leurs produits d'agriculture.

      En revenant, nous nous sommes arrêtés au marché de la ville. Encore là, ils vendent quasiment le même stock! Par la suite, on a continué notre chemin pour Urubamba, toujours en collectivo, pour une autre heure.

      Rendu sur place, nous allons marcher dans les petites rues, essayant de nous perdre :-). Il n'y a pas beaucoup de touristes. Il y a un marché public dans les rues. On décide de marcher à travers et de se rendre au fameux restaurant "El Hucatay". Et encore là, quel délice! On a mangé un carpaccio dAlpaga, bœuf braisé avec pâtes, truite croûté avec une salade de quinoa, et un brownie avec sa super bonne crème glacée faites maison. Menoum!!!! Cuisine italienne et péruvienne, ça fait un méchant bon mixte. On y a aussi bu le meilleur Pisco Soir ever! Il tait aux herbes, quel délice!

      On rentre au bercail car demain nous avons plusieurs activités dans cette région.

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    • Day 46

      Sacred Valley

      January 10, 2017 in Peru ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

      The sacred Valley is home to many of the Inca ruins (except the big one) and we thought we would do a tour and see a few.
      We started at Moray which has a number of circular terraces. Each terrace has a slightly different micro climate which the Inca's used as a growing laboratory.
      Maras has salt mining where salt rich water from the mountain flows into pools from which the water evaporates and your left with salt.
      Ollantaytambo has very impressive Inca ruins built into the side of a mountain.
      Pisac has equally impressive ruins built on a mountain with a heap of terracing.
      Both Inca ruins would be amazing places to visit and would be big draw cards anywhere in the world but obviously Machu Picchu is why everyone comes to Cusco/Peru.
      It was great day that left me saying wow many times over the views were Spectacular and you couldn't quite comprehend how these places got built.
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