I have spent the last few days in Peru’s Sacred Valley. While the highlights have certainly been Rainbow Mountain and Machu Picchu, my time here overall has held more subtle surprises. Since arriving in Cusco a few days ago, I’ve found my primary personal objective to be to chill–I have now been traveling for over a month, and I was in need of some downtime. I have welcomed opportunities to sit in a cafe, relax, blog (woo!), and use wifi to reconnect with family and friends at home. However, of course I have also found a few adventures! I’ve detailed my highlights below.
1- Free walking tour of Cusco. Upon arriving in Cusco, Sarah, Rachele, and I took advantage of a free walking tour that meets in Cusco’s Plaza De Armas a few times a day. Fortunately, our visit to Cusco corresponded with the city’s annual historic celebration, so we were able to view several unique festivities along the way. Our tour guide, Angel, was exceptional. He explained to us how Cusco was the center of the Incan world, and how the roads delineate the four regions of the Incan empire, stretching into modern Colombia, Chile, and Bolivia.
He also showed us how the city is shaped like a puma (who knew!) and demonstrated several Incan instruments for us and explained their historical significance. For example, the charango was developed as an alternative to the guitar, as the Spanish invaders did not permit the natives to play the guitar. Because of its small size, the natives could hide the charango under their ponchos to avoid persecution.
The tour concluded with some beautiful views and free pisco sours. We were also excited to meet two fellow New Yorkers on the tour!
2- A visit to Moras and Moray. On the way from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, we stopped by the ancient ruins at Moras and Moray. Archaeologists are still uncertain as to the purpose of these circles engraved into the earth, which made it even more exciting to me!
3- Exploring Ollantaytambo and hiking to the “Inca Face.” Today, I stayed behind in Ollantaytambo a few extra hours to hike to Pinkuylluna, or the “Inca Face” ruins. The ruins are located on one of the mountains that surrounds the city. The hike up took about an hour, but I did get lost as the trail is worn and not clearly marked. I also stopped along the way to soak in some views and get some reading done! The views of Ollantaytambo from the top were beautiful.
Tonight, I will head back to Cusco to meet back up with Sarah and Rachele, then we will board an overnight bus to Bolivia. I am slightly nervous, given every person I have met who has visited Bolivia has gotten food poisoning (including my very best friend, who was deathly ill here from some sketchy meat…this is why I’ve been vegetarian since I left the USA!) However, I am excited to see all of the natural beauty the country has to offer–if it’s anything like Peru, it will be amazing.