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Published: April 25th 2011
After 16 months in South America without seeing any family(besides Tracy of course), it was very nice to see some familiar faces when my Mom came to visit us with her best friend Janet. We did some more exploring around Cuzco for the first couple days, going to museums, ruins, and some very nice restaurants(also something we haven’t seen in 16 months). Apparently my Mom and Monica had conspired to surprise us with her presence when she arrived unannounced the next day. After a short reunion, we left for the Valle Sagrada, the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This was a very important central location of the Incan Empire where there are hundreds of ruins all over the valley.
Ollantaytambo - We first went to Ollantaytambo where lies the Temple of the Sun. A massive pyramid-like structure crawls up the side of a cliff on top of which lies a sacrificial temple to pay respects to the sun god. We hiked both sides of the valley to an Inca granary and other ruins aswell. The small town is over a thousand years old and still has less than 2,000 inhabitants.
The following day we started the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
The scencery changed dramatically as we went from the high and dry climate with snow capped peaks to the lush mountainous jungle where Machu Piccu lies. On the way we passed various Inca ruins with terraces and an irrigation system that still functions perfectly. We climbed over a thousand meters in one day from the bottom of the valley to the Sun Gate, also an Inca ruin, where you get the first glimpse of Machu Picchu. The gate was strategically placed so that at a particular time of the year when the sun rises, it shines through the gate and lands on a sacred temple at Machu Picchu, over a kilometer away. We walked down and got to spend the rest of the afternoon at the most famous site in South America. Machu Picchu was the one of the most important sites for the Incas where the best and most knowledgeable scientists, priests, agriculturists, and nobles from the empire.
Machu Picchu - The next day we woke up early to arrive at Machu Picchu right when it opened. Besides the main site, there is an upper temple site on top of the pillar shaped mountain overlooking Machu Picchu, called Wiñay
Picchu. We hiked an hour straight up the side of the cliff and arrived at a stunning view just as the morning clouds cleared away. We took some great pictures then headed back down to learn more about the site from our lovely guide Narda. We learned all about how the incas lived and farmed at the site and also their sacred rituals. We spent all day at Machu Picchu and learned loads. That night we took the train back into town and went to sleep early after a very tiresome day.
Pisac - We were able to finally sleep in a little the next day. Pisac is a little town with a huge craft market. Our plan was to first go to the market then do a little more hiking around the ruins near by. The plan changed quickly after we saw how huge the market was and how tired we were of hiking. It was a great day off from hiking and everyone enjoyed shopping. The next day however we did do more hiking. This time there were ruins up in the mountains which meant more steps, oh those dreaded steps. For some reason the Incas loved steps,
therfore making us all hate steps. That afternoon we spent hiking and looking at more ruins in beautiful mountains.
Urubamba - Our next and final stop was Urubamba, which was the biggest city in the sacred valley. We did another hike up the valley to a small village that had no electricity or running water, besides a stream. It was a long and beautiful hike and we were all happy that there were no stairs involved. The last day we went to the final Inca sites which were Moray and Chinchero. Eric and I were very Incad out by this time but still enjoyed the pretty mountains.
Out trip to Machu Picchu was unforgetable and we were very happy to spend it with our family.
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