The Sacred Valley of the Inca is true to its name, a stunning area that combines all the natural beauty of the Andes with the incredible ingenuity of Incan industry.
The Inka Site Moray
is an Inca agricultural construction, though it is no longer in use. Concentric circles of Inca terracing form an amphitheatre-like bowl deep below the top of the surrounding hills. It is both beautiful and mysterious. Believed to have been an agricultural experimental site, with each ring of the bowl providing a distinct micro-climate to experiment with different crops, it is also thought to have been an important ceremonial site.
Las Salineras – Salt Flats
comprises thousands of salt pans, a patchwork landscape of pinks, tans and browns descending into the valley. Originally constructed by the Incas, to this day Peruvians mine the flats.
Inca archaeological site Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu – an Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, one of the most incredible places the world has ever seen!
There are different options how to get to Machu Picchu but there is no “easy” or cheap way. The closest town to Machu Picchu is Aguas Calientes; there is no way to drive to, it must be reached by train and from there a 20-minute bus ride or approx. 1.5 h hike up a mountain to get to Machu Picchu. Or there is the “long way around” but we were not really interested in that one. Although the train tickets are crazy expensive (min. US 120.00 for 1h 40min) we thought: the hell… it’s Machu Picchu! To me, the train ride is part of the “Machu Picchu” adventure.
We have a plan but we also need to book all the tickets. We were lucky and booked the train tickets last minute at the gateway in Ollantaytambo (walked back and forth between the 2 train operators and had to figure out the departure & return times that are affordable), made a reservation for a hostel in Aguas Calientes, arranged a secure parking for Mr. G, what else do we need? Oh… the entrance tickets for Machu Picchu. When I was reading on the web that sometimes the tickets are sold out and limited daily and therefore should be booked well in advance, I got a bit nervous. It’s possible to buy the Machu Picchu tickets through the government website but requires a lot of PATIENCE and apparently doesn’t always work?! Well, it was meant to be and everything worked out last minute – so excited!
The train track winds along the Urubamba River and passes breathtaking mountains. We met Vic & Jean-Pierre from Germany and had dinner together at the famous Indio Feliz – fun times! We wanted to be there for sunrise and before the huge crowd. So, at 4.30am we started our hike in a downpour. Just before 6:00am it stopped raining. It was absolutely amazing early morning at mystical Machu Picchu! It never really cleared up completely but the clouds created the perfect atmosphere. The whole Machu Picchu experience definitely was a highlight!
In Cusco, a World Heritage site
Better known today as the gateway to Machu Picchu, the ancient city was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th century until the Spanish arrived in the 1500s. The city of Cusco stands at 3,400 m (11,200 ft).