Sacred Valley of the Incas (Cuzco, Peru)

I’m exhausted.  Bloody exhausted.  It’s 10:30 at night and we are finally about to fall into bed after a long, long day.

First stop this morning was the ancient Incan ruins at Pisac – absolutely fabulous terracing and with 3000 holes in the cliffs that each contained a mummy.  It was the largest Incan cemetary ever found.

In the afternoon we visited the ruins at Ollantaytambo – wow!  The terraces…  The enormous blocks of stone that were transport twelve kilometers and cut so precisely they still fit together to tightly you can’t even wedge a credit card between them…  Incredible.

And then began the waiting game.  We waited four hours for the bus to take us to the train.  Then we waited another hour for the train.  Finally – at 9:30 at night – we arrived at our hotel, ate, dinner, showered, and collapsed into bed.

The effects of the landslides 4 months ago are still very apparent.  There were places where half the road have been washed away, and other places where massive car-sized boulders crashed down into the road – and they are still there.  Each village has a designated area where people who lost everything are temporarily housed in tents.  It’s sad, but it looks like the people are moving on.

For the tourist, the most noticeable (and the thing that affects us most) is the train to Macchu Picchu.  Normally, the train would leave from Ollantaytambo and take you all the way to Aguas Calientes.  But now – a large portion of the train tracks are wiped out.  They managed to fix a 28-km section that passes through a very narrow gorge – so narrow there is no way a car could possibly fit through.  That is now the only section you actually ride on the train.  For the rest of the “train journey” you take a bus on a series of long-established roads and tracks hastily cut through fields in order to create a network to get people to the start of the functioning train route.

I have to say the Peruvian government has done a phenomenal job coordinating all this – it was only 4 months ago that the devastation occurred.  In those four months, they have created a network of roads to get thousands of tourists to the train, built a temporary train station there, and brought in dozens of vans to transport people.  It works fairly smoothly, but not quite like the train ride the whole way!


As we waited for our tour to leave in the morning, we sat next to this church – love the monk guarding the door!
Church in Cuzco
The first stop on our tour was a small tourist market. The boys headed straight for the alpacas!
D & D with alpacas

It has only been 4 months since the devastating rains that caused so much damage in the area.  This town was nearly completely underwater at that time and the destruction is still very evident.

Town destroyed by floods

Our tour group – a great group of people!

Tour Group

The Incan ruins of Pisac.  There are amazing terraces here that are still used today – after 600 years!

Incan Terraces in Pisac

Pisac is the largest Incan cementary. The bodies were mummified, then stashed in small caves in the hillsides.

Incan cementary at Pisac align=

Me at Pisac!

Hanging out at Pisac

Pisac

Pisac

In Ollantaytambo, the Incans built a bunch of storage sheds on the side of the mountain – lots of fresh air to keep their food fresh.

Storage sheds at Ollantaytambo

Davy and I at Ollantaytambo.  Many of the houses in this town are built using original Incan foundations – as you walk through town you can see how the bottom 5 or 6 feet of the house is stonework with bricks for the top.

Davy and Me at Ollantaytambo

The Incas brought all these stones from a quarry 12 kilometers away on the other side of the mountian.  I can’t even imagine…

Stones of Ollantaytambo

Davy walks on one of the terraces.

Walking in Incan ruins

Marco Antonio, our guide through SAS Travel, was great!

Marco Antonio, our tour guide

All of the ruins are pretty touristy, but ya gotta love INCA BUCKS!

Inca Bucks at Ollantaytambo

The local people are so colorful!

Finally on the train – after a long, long day!

On the train to Machu Picchu

Church in Cuzco

 

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

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