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Sorkoo Adventures

Lima and the Sacred Valley

PERU | Sunday, 29 October 2017 | Views [175]

After an amazing visit in Argentina it was time to move on to our final South American country, Peru. Danny, Julie and I landed in Lima in the afternoon and headed to the Miraflora district. We were all surprised to find Lima, or at least our neighborhood, to be modern and clean. We spent two and a half days exploring Miraflores. We visited ruins from the Lima Civilization, ate delicious ceviche, strolled the cliff walk above the ocean and shopped in the markets. The city was beautiful and the food was delicious but after three days we were ready for the real reason we went to Peru, the Sacred Valley to see Incan Ruins! 

We flew into Cusco and immediately headed down mountain to the town of Ollantaytambo. I'm glad we did! Even at the lower elevation of Ollantaytambo I still experienced a bit of altitude sickness our first morning. Thankfully, I was the only one and it only lasted that morning. Our first afternoon we visited the Incan temple/fortress of Ollantaytambo and then hiked up the mountain to some Incan granaries. Amazing! Ollantaytambo itself is a cute little village with cobblestone streets, whitewashed buildings and decent food. A great little city and a great start. 

The next morning we were up early to grab a local bus to the small town of Hydroelectrica. The 4 hour bus ride was bumpy and windy. Not a great ride for any of us, especially Julie. But we made it! From Hydroelectrica it is a 7km walk along the train tracks to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. This bus ride and walk is not only a cheaper option to get to Machu Picchu, but also provides beautiful views of the Andes mountains. We made it to Aguas Calientes in time for a quick dinner and immediately to bed. We had an early morning coming up for Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu is everything we thought it would be!! We arrived at the bus terminal at 5:15am and waited an hour to get on a bus. Who knew everyone with morning tickets would want to arrive so early? It's a 20 minute bus ride up the mountain to the entrance. We found a tour guide and entered the park. The first view is beautiful. You walk in and are surrounded by the ruins and mountains. The early morning fog made the ruins seem magical! Our tour guide took us through the bottom half of the ruins were we learned how to distinguish temple buildings versus the living quarters of royalty and the commoners. About 80% of the ruins are original and many of the walls and buildings are in perfect condition. The site is so vast that even with all the tourists you can take in the grandeur. It felt like every stone was selected for a purpose and placed in its perfect location. This city in the mountains is incredible.

And speaking of mountains, our second part of the day was dedicated to climbing Machu Picchu Mountain. We headed to the top part of the ruins where you can get amazing views of the city below. Then we headed further uphill to the entrance of our mountain hike. The hike itself isn't long but it is completely up hill. With the high altitude we could only walk up so many steps before needing a break. Julie and I took every break we could and enjoyed watching the ruins get smaller and smaller as we headed up the mountain. Danny was clearly in better shape and headed up the mountain at a pretty quick place. We were impressed. The top provided beautiful views of the ruins below and the other mountains around us. By the time we got back down I was feeling drained from the sun, an early morning and maybe dehydration. We sat down at the top of the hill for one last look of the ruins below; then we left Machu Picchu feeling breathless from the hike and the amazement.

Back in Aguas Calientes we had a hearty, long lunch and the we headed to the station to board a train back to Ollantaytambo. The next day we visited the circular farming ruins in Moray, the salt mines in Salineras and the ruins turned church in Chinchero. We spent our last four nights with Julie in Cusco, the 3rd largest city in Peru. Unfortunately, I had a bad bout of altitude sickness so I spent one of the days resting while Julie and Danny explored the Incan ruins close to Cusco proper. The next day, the three of us explored the cobblestone streets of Cusco. We admired colonial churches, shopped, visited museums and explored an Incan palace that was turned into a giant church. We were having a great time but sadly, it was time for Julie to head home . It was great having her join us for two weeks and we were sad to see her go.

Now just the two of us, Danny and I had one more site to visit in the Sacred Valley. The morning after Julie left we were up at 3:15am to join a tour to Rainbow Mountain. It was a three hour drive to the mountains but neither one of us slept due to sheer excitement. After breakfast we began the 12km round trip hike. Once again, it isn't the distance nor the incline that makes this hike difficult but the altitude. The hike begins at 4,000m above sea level and ends at 5,200m. The altitude didn't suit me well so I rented a horse halfway up. Once again, Danny was amazing and climbed it all. He even beat my horse to the top! It was tough to breath at the top (especially for me) but in front of us stood a mountain full of color. It was a beautiful site! And a perfect end to our time in the Sacred Valley.

I think we both agree that the Sacred Valley has been one of our favorite stops in the Sorkoo Adventure. Speaking of adventures, we're on the last week of this amazing trip before heading to Aruba for Elena and Eric's wedding!!!!!!

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