Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo – Sunday 17 April 2011

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April 25th 2011
Published: April 26th 2011
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Yesterday in Cuzco, we had a fantastic breakfast at a restaurant called Jacks. I had muesli, yoghurt, strawberries and banana and Tom had eggs and bacon. Due to our short time to leave Cuzco we had a light breakfast in our Hotel Buena Vista – nowhere near as good as Jacks.
We headed north and followed the Sacred Valley floor visiting various communities along the way. At one stop we had lunch which was a typical Peru menu – soup, chicken with vegies, rice and potato (Peru has 3000 different types of potatoes), and a jelly fruit. Drinks are juice and tea (including coco tea) or coffee.

But today was a little different. Our guide Manny, organised a surprise for us. The hosts bought out a plate with their national, special meat on it – guinea pig. Several times in Peru, we have seen pens or buildings with many guinea pigs. The locals love them. We tried them, and in fact if you could get over what you were actually eating, the meat was quite tasty. I wished they had take off the feet and head though !!!!
Intrepid, the company which we are travelling, support different communities in the countries they take tourists too. The company have an assessment system through which they choose which communities to support. We have seen many communities which are very under developed, 3rd world standard. The other parts of this community we visited, was a chocolate factory (and of course I bought some, even though it was a strong cocoa taste. They just crushed the cocoa beans, added sugar and peanuts), a place where ceramics are made by the traditional method by a husband and wife team (the wife was the President of the local community), and a place where there were llama and alpaca wool being spun and knitted items for sale. I bought a beanie for the Larez Track. All the dyes are of natural, local products. Where we didn’t purchase any good, we donated some Soles to the community.

We also saw houses with red plastic bags hanging outside on posts, one of which we visited. These houses are where locals go to drink chicha, a local brew made out of corn. It was a great way to experience the local flavour. However this is obviously an acquired taste. The lady who showed us how it is made drinks about 10 glasses of chicha per day. Unfortunately there is a lot of child and women abuse in this valley due to the high level of drinking chicha. The men even drink it while working out in the fields.

We were following the Urubamba River along the Sacred Valley. It takes about 2 hours to drive from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. The River was fast flowing with mostly rapids all the way which range from Level 3-5. The water from it is used to irrigare the arable soil of the valley. Thed mountains on each side of the valley are very steep (geologically still very young).

We drove on once more to Ollantaytambo, a lovely little stone town high in the Andes (close to 3,000 m.a.s.l.). It was a real touristy town tucked into an Andes valley. We stayed in a great little hotel, Kuychipunkku Hotel, with wonderfully friendly and helpful owners. We had to walk up a short lane-way where we saw a part of their drainage and water supply system. There were markets with the usual Peruvian clothes (caps, jumpers, gloves, sox, jewellery, ‘junk’ etc). As it was a town planned by the Spanish, there was a central square.

Ollantaytambo is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 60 kilometers northwest of the city of Cusco. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca Yupanqui, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca buildings and as one of the most common starting points for the three-day, four-night hike known as the Inca and Larez Trail which is the reason why we stayed for 1 night.

Ollantaytambo is located along the Patakancha River, close to the point where it joins the Urubamba River.
The valleys of the Urubamba and Patakancha rivers along Ollantaytambo are covered by an extensive set of agricultural terraces which start at the bottom of the valleys and climb up the surrounding hills. The terraces permitted farming on otherwise unusable terrain; they also allowed the Incas to take advantage of the different ecological zones created by variations in altitude. Terraces at Ollantaytambo were built to a higher standard than common Inca agricultural terraces, for instance, they have higher walls made of cut stones instead of rough cut structure.

Hearts Cafe, is on the main square of Ollantaytambo with views across the plaza onto the Inca temple-fortress. Profits go to children's and grandparent’s projects in the Sacred Valley. Grandparents are apparently neglected in their old age. It was a hearty meal, and as usual, 3 course!
I also ordered an acrylic painting of Machu Picchu which we picked up on our way through after being to Machu Picchu.

Additional photos below
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Cactus on top of fenceCactus on top of fence
Cactus on top of fence

to keep animals in/out

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