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Published: April 27th 2010
Life in Ollataytambo, Valle Sagrado, PERU
MACHUPICCHU - WONDER OF THE WORLD - ANCIENT CITADEL - COMPLETE INCA CITY
The journey from Cusco to Machupicchu was in itself a wonderful adventure and created quite the build-up to the trip. Indeed at 3:00 pm, a taxi driver named Edgar arrived in a brand new, red Toyota Yaris. We loaded ourselves in (just us!!) and ah-hum….put on seatbelts for the first time since arriving in South America. We know that sounds terribly irresponsible, but la vida aqui es muy diferente como la vida en Los Estados Unidos.
Off we went…what a beautiful and rapid ride we had. We passed through interesting towns and in about 2-hours had arrived in the tiny town of Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley, which is filled with the remains of Incan cities. Again, hopefully the photos of Ollantaytambo can begin to show the simplicity, the incredible charm and ancient remains. The Rio Vilcanota runs through a portion of the Valle Sagrado and we can just imagine the flooding that occurred here during the rainy, rainy, immense amount of rain that occurred during February and March of this year. Roads are still scoured our and there are workers everywhere repairing
Incan ruins in Ollataytambo
Ho-hum, there are Incan ruins everywhere in the Valle Sagrado
buildings, bridges and roadways. We spent the night in a wonderful hotel, located next to the river. We wished we had more time in Ollataytambo, as it had such an incredible feel to it. We ate dinner at the Hearts Café, which donates 100% of the profits to children and women in the highland communities around the Valle Sagrado.
We awoke at 4:30 am the next morning, April 20th and walked to the bus station. We waited there awhile, then took a mini-van to Piscachucho, where we were guided to the Inca Rail train. This is the start of the Inca Trail, the original trail that leads to MachuPicchu. It is a 4-5 day hike (which we obviously didn’t do), but between trekkers and two different rail companies, it is a hectic place. We boarded the train and headed off for a 90-minute train ride paralleling the river. There were sections were the old railway was washed out. The ride was beautiful and very comfortable. We arrived in Aguas Calientes, the town which sits at the base of MachuPicchu, at about 8:15 am. A guide met us at the station and helped us find our hostel. Aguas Calientes
Bus in Olllataytambo
5:00 am bus from Ollataytambo to Piscachucho
seems to exist only for MachuPicchu and it is an odd and very, very expensive town. We dumped off our stuff, re-arranged what we would need for the day, purchased very expensive water (S/. 6 for 2.5L of water), some cookies and bananas and then boarded the bus to head up to MachuPicchu.
The bus wound up the mountain side and about 20-30 minutes later, we arrived at the entrance to MachuPicchu. There another guide met us and suggested we use the facilities, as there were none at the site. So, we paid our obligatory S/. 1 each to use the toilet (and got receipts to prove it!), showed our boleto touristico, signed forms, and entered into the site.
Well, I don’t even know how to describe what it is that we saw. Here you have this entire Inca city, ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham around 1912. It is massive, extensive, impressive and is situated in an awe-inspiring setting, at the base of Huayna Pichu mountain. There is the agricultural sector with an amazing network of terraces. There is a network of fountains, with water running through an elaborate network of water channels. There are altars,
Scenery at train station
Piscacucho; start of the Inca trail to Machupicchu
staircases, temples, and more. To say it is mind-boggling is indeed an understatement. All I can say to you all is that you need to find the time to come and see it for yourself. You need to try to get your head around how this incredible civilization made this city…how they lived….and how they kept this sacred city…more or less intact…from the Spaniards. Go and see it for yourselves…please.
We spent the entire day there, first with a guide explaining some of the ‘significant’ portions of Machu Picchu…then we wandered around on our own, taking just a couple of fotos. We spent the better part of the day there, wandering around and taking in the awe-inspiring, magnificent site. Finally, as we were low on food and water, we decided to take the trail from Machu Picchu down to Aguas Calientes, which took the better part of an hour. Although we had this incredible experience the day before Andy’s birthday, it was a great way to have a pre-birthday.
We spent the night in Aguas Calientes, and the better part of the next day. Although Aguas Calientes is situated in an absolutely magnificent setting, the
town itself is overpriced and caters solely to the thousands and thousands of tourists who descend there to get to Machu Picchu.
On the morning of Andy’s birthday, while we were having our continental breakfast at the hostel, the hostel owner presented Andy with a birthday present…a chullo (hat)…we also had some wonderful chocolate bon-bons for breakfast - YUM! Later in the afternoon, as the skies were pouring down rain, we took the Inca Rail back to Piscacucho, where our driver, Edgar, was waiting for us. He drove us back to Cusco, climbing back up out of the Sacred Valley.
The next day, we all felt exhausted and a bit under the weather….maybe the altitude…all the walking and sun at Machu Picchu, maybe not enough food or water…we decided to have a bit of a descanso and catch up on much needed laundry and other necessities. While there are so many Incan ruins to see in and around Cusco, we decided not to purchase the Boleto Touristico (BTC). Very, very expensive and then you need to go with one of the tour agencies to get around. We decided to go to some of the towns on
Entrance to Machupicchu
WOW! With more to come...
our own and just explore a bit. So, one day we took a colectivo to Chincero, then went off to Urubamba. On Sunday, we took another colectivo to the town of Piscac, which was absolutely devastated by the flooding in February.
We leave Cusco on Monday, April 26th and take the overnight Cruz del Sur bus back to Arequipa. How fortunate that when we returned from Pisac, we ran into our friends, Nancy, Steve, Shae, Tully and Marianne, just steps from our hostel. This amazing family has travelled all over the world and has given us many good pointers on travelling. We sure hope to connect with them in the future, back in the U.S.
From Arequipa, we will just spend one day, then fly back to Lima. We will stay at the same hostel that we stayed at nearly one month ago, gather the rest of our gear…(YES) do a little more shopping and then bid adieu to Peru and South America.
We will arrive back in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A. on April 30th, which happens to be Marleigh’s 9th birthday. We will spend one night there, and on Saturday, May 1st, work our way back
Incan stonework at Machupicchu
Can someone please tell us how they did this???
to our home in Bend, OR.
I hope to make at least one more blog entry as we end this trip, or shortly thereafter. Until the next time….
Abrazos y besos - La Familia Dunning
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