Sacred Valley, Peru: February 17-18, 2014

In case you missed Tuesday’s post, you can catch up on the first two days of the trip here :) Ready for more? Okay good.

We woke up at 4am to grab a bite and head to the airport to catch our flight to Cusco. Cusco is further inland from Lima and is in the well known area of the Andes.

I’ll save you the details of our travel (it was a short journey) and our tingly feet (a side effect of the altitude pills) and fast forward to our arrival in Cusco. We met with our local guide and began our day. We drove up the mountains through tiny villages and farmland. It was breathtaking.

Sacred Valley3

The houses of the area in the Sacred Valley are made of bricks and mud and most do not have running water or electricity but some do. Every so often you’d even see a satellite dish.

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Most of the people are farmers and they grow many crops: potatoes, oat, barley, corn, quinoa, beans and wheat especially. The farming stays local and provides food for their population as well as the people of Cusco. They also have many animals on the farm: chickens, donkeys, sheep, cows, lama and al pacca. I want to become a farmer so badly.

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We stopped at the Caccaccollo Community, where the women have a profound influence as they weave and make crafts from the fluff of the alpaca and llamas. Their lives are so beautiful and simple. They literally live off the land: they use the aloe plant to wash their hair and the cactus plants to wash their clothes. They epitomize “farm to table” as they eat so naturally and from what they labor.

Sacred Valley Community1

We loved playing with the kids and they loved seeing their faces on the camera. Lesley is so good with kids. Me… not so much. Oh I also want to mention that all of these gorgeous photos are courtesy of Les – she is quite the photographer! I only sort of know how to take pics of food.

Les and Kids

By about mid-day we started to feel the effects of the altitude and our own fatigue. Cusco is 3,400 meters above sea level and The Sacred Valley is 2,800. Les and I both had headaches but we we made sure to drink lots of water.

In the afternoon, we stopped in a town called Pisac to walk through an Incan archeological site. The ruins date back to the 1400s and are rich with history and tradition. The photos don’t even do it justice.

Pisac1

Pisac2

We then went to another archeological Incan site of an unfinished temple in Ollantaytambo. It was truly spectacular. The walk up was easier than the walk down. But hiking shoes are a must if traveling to these areas.

Ollantaytambo1

Oll2

After another jam-packed day, we headed to our hotel in Urubamba to relax for the rest of the evening. The next morning when we woke up, fueled with some eggs and fruit and headed out. We drove up through the hills and mountains of Urubamba – the main town of the Sacred Valley.

We first visited a salt mine called Maras and learned how they extract the salt from the pools. They mine 8 months of the year but not in rainy season (now). There are about 2,000 pools and the local villagers each own and profit from their designated pool.

Salt Mine1

Salt Mine2

We then went to yet another (not complaining) Incan archeological site called Moray. It is nature made religious area made by the convergence of the hot and cold air. We hiked through the area and felt the changes in the air: from hot to cold. Very cool.

Moray

Moray2

For lunch, we had a special and traditional Peruvian meal called “Pachamanca” which means “pot in the earth”. It is how the meal is prepared – in a pot, in the earth. It’s basically like a massive stew cooked underground with lots of stuff in it – meat, chicken, potatoes, bananas, beans, pineapple, herbs.

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The chefs pull everything out of the pot to eat. I had some chicken, beans (only one – didn’t like them), sweet potato and banana. Obviously the banana was my favorite.

Pachamanca1

We headed back to the hotel to relax because our next two days are pretty intense. I’m not sure how it could have gotten better but it did.

Sidenote: I highly recommend G Adventures and traveling on a small tour (for parts of Peru it is definitely a must). We still had plenty of free time and it never felt “touristy.” Without being on this tour we would have never been able to see all of this incredible stuff. The transportation through the area is not simple and many “sights” are very remote. G Adventures is very organized and all of our drivers were wonderfully safe (important) and our guides were all amazing. I love learning about new places, cultures and having unforgettable experiences. Sidenote #2: G Adventures is in no way “sponsoring” or endorsing this post – I genuinely like the company and my experience. Although, I wouldn’t mind a few perks… wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

Questions of the day…

Are you good with kids?

Have you done an organized trip/tour before?

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20 thoughts on “Sacred Valley, Peru: February 17-18, 2014

  1. Love hearing about your adventures!! I am so not good with kid either so you are in a safe space here ;)

    Les has awesome photography skills. All the photos are great and make me so want to go. That walk at the Incan site sounded tough but fun.

    I’ve heard great things about Machu Picchu so look forward to hearing how it went for you.

  2. This trip looks awesome. I have to ask, though, what made you guys take a trip here? Have either of you been there before or just heard it was awesome? There is seriously so much stuff to do, which is awesome! I’m not sure how I would handle all the altitude changes, though, haha

  3. The photos are absolutely gorgeous! Kyle’s been to Peru (he went for a graduation present with his dad) but I haven’t. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble convincing him to go back! And am I good with kids? I think so? It’s always fairly easy when you can give them back to their parents ;)

  4. I want to gooooo! Are you tired of reading my whiny comments on your travel posts yet? Feel free to tell me to (wo)man up and schedule a trip instead of complaining. :) Sometimes I really wish I could disappear in the woods and truly live off the land. I’m not sure I’d miss as much as I think I would. I used to be really good with kids, but I’m not sure I am anymore. I feel like too many years away from them has made me awkward.

  5. Ahh I love how you guys did so many historical/archaeological sites! Whenever I’m on vacation or travelling, I love hearing about the history of where I am.
    As for kids, I think I’m pretty good with them – I used to work in a daycare, so came with the territory. Eric is naturally amazing with them though, which will come in handy down the road ;-)

  6. So beautiful! I would be the dummy who would wear my Nike shoes while hiking…lol. Miguel and I were just talking about how nice it would be to have a farm and a garden and just grow everything! I doubt that will ever happen but at least if there was one nearby to get fresh produce from! I didn’t used to be good with kids either (in fact, I didn’t even used to want them) but then my sister was born 5 years ago and everything changed. Because of her, I feel much more comfortable around kiddos.

  7. Your pictures are stunning! Lesley did an amazing job.. and ofcourse your food pics are great too. I traveled to China a few years ago for 3 weeks with Free the Children. It was an amazing trip and the whole thing was organized by FTC. It was great because I didn’t have to plan a single thing.. I just let our tour people guide me the whole time.

  8. Such an amazing experience Amy! It looks like such a beautiful country! It’s so great that you really got to interact with the people and play with the kids too. I think I’m good with kids and I enjoy playing with them. They’re just so darn cute!

  9. Wow, the pictures are stunning, and I love hearing about your experience! Definitely making me put Peru on my list. The archaeological sites are breathtaking, and I love that you got to interact with “real” people outside of touristy stuff. Like I mentioned, I love sightseeing where you walk/ hike through lots of the day, because you get to see so much more. I think you mean alpaca (although “al paccho” made me smile for some reason so I vote you keep it!)

    1. Oh my gosh!! Thank you for pointing that out but you are right — I should have kept it! I tried updating it on my phone and something went wrong with WordPress so I had to re-type the whole post eek!! Hoping the blog is working properly now. ps. THANK YOU for your email xoxo

  10. Sounds like a great trip! I have to make sure to catch up on part 1 as well! I didn’t know that being at high altitudes meant that you needed to take pills.

    Ahhh I have been trying to leave this comment for the past half hour and haven’t been able to focus. So I’m going to stop now! Glad that you’re back!

  11. So the temperature really change from hot to cool? That’s amazing! The world is so full of natural and ancient wonders. Your trip looks like a great experience, something that you can’t recreate. For a hot minute I wanted to be an archeologist when I was younger, then I fell out of love with science. I still have a deep interest in ancient ruins and ancient history. It is one of my dreams to visit the pyramids in Egypt one day. I’m kind of obsessed with ancient Egyptian culture.

  12. I’m so glad I stopped by your blog after reading one of your comments on another blog. I am looking to make the Peru trip through G Adventures sometime this year. It’s nice to randomly read that you not only enjoyed your time, but also booked through G Adventures. It’s kismet! Namaste.

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