Mountain air is awesome! I swear all our bodies hummed a sigh of relief when we arrived in Cusco to thin air, cool (cold) mountain temps, and no humidity!
Cusco is a rather large city that is the hub to the Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu! It breathes history–large Cathedrals built by the Spaniards, amazing Inca walls, Inca ruins right outside the city. It also is full of tourist opportunities and the workers are not shy asking you to come eat at their restaurant or offer their services for tours, massages, to sell a piece of art or clothing. Once we learned the city a bit, we found amazing areas and places to visit outside the hustle bustle of the Plaza.
After two nights, we headed to Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. This was a last minute change to our plans. We choose not to go to Lake Titicaca near the Bolivian border. It was too long of a bus trip for a short period of time; it had made sense with our original plan, but we made the right decision.
We loved Ollantaytambo! Our only regret was that we should have stayed 1-2 more nights. The ruins that are at the base of the town are spectacular as well as the hiking opportunities! I went for my first mountain run in almost a year–it was amazing! It is the last train stop before Aqua Calientes (Machu Picchu town) so most people use it as a 1 night stop before catching their train. We hiked, ran (me), explored the ruins, ate amazing food, and enjoyed the quiet of a small mountain town!
We returned to Cusco to explore the city a bit more and other areas of the Sacred Valley. We had a day trip to Pisaq and another day was spent exploring the areas right out side of Cusco.
The Sacred Valley area is beautiful–full of culture, nature, history! The Andean people work hard and their way of life hasn’t changed much. The communities are like a family. They share food and resources with each other regardless if they are related. They are up in the mountains all day tending their herds or farming.
This sums up our action packed week and now we are ready for our final week–the trek & Machu Picchu!