Cusco | Machu Picchu | Sacred Valley
After Huacachina was time to meet Amber and Torben in Cusco. We took a night bus that arrived after 17 hours at the Terminal of the Inca Imperial Capital of Peru. The wind was cold and after days in the desert was a pleasure to be there!
Cusco is a very beautiful Inca-colonial style built city. You can see that the basement of all the buildings in the center is Inca and the rest it’s built with the typical Spanish-colonial way.
Thanks to Torben and Amber we stayed at an amazing hotel, Yabar Hotel, on the main square of Cusco. Just few blocks from the central market and in a area full of cafes and restaurants.
The day after our alarm woke us up pretty early and a taxi drove us through the sacred valley to visit the Amaru community where groups of women from the Andes are weaving alpaca-llama yarn products. We went to the group called Intiwasi. Their main language is Quechua but they did a presentation of how they naturally dye the yarn and how they weave and knit in Spanish.
After this visit of the artisans we went to Ollantaytambo to catch the train to Machu Picchu (the village) and spend the rainy night there eating pizza and watching funny Peruvian tv shows.
On Friday morning we were ready to go to the ruins of Machu Picchu. For your information Machu Picchu is not the name of the ruins, the archeologists don’t know yet the real name of the village that was there and for which scope it was used. Machu Picchu is the name of the mountain that “protects” the village. And it means “the old mountain”. In front of the ruins there is also “the happy mountain” and this makes everything better!
Machu Picchu was re-discovered by Hiram Bingham and brought to world wide knowledge in 1911. The ruins were actually discovered by 3 Peruvians way before but Bingham made it internationally recognized.
Studies have been discovered that Machu Picchu was mostly inhabited by young people, probably students. It was probably divided in a male area and female area. And it had different kind of temples: one for sacrifice (mostly of llamas but also humans) and other for praying the good spirits of the mountains, the Apus, and the Pachamama, Mother Earth.
In general Machu Picchu is one of the most magical places we have visited. Even with the crazy crowd of tourists that everyday walks up and down the ruins it is still one of the most amazing place in Peru.
The landscape is breathtaking and the guide we had, that you are obliged to get in order to enter in the site, was very well prepared and very knowledgeable.
After spending the day in Machu Picchu we went back to Ollantaytambo for the night were a big carnival party with beautiful people dancing in the main square kept us busy. Carnival is one of the best moments to visit all South America. It is a great way to learn about culture and costumes of the places you are visiting and listen to great folkloric music.
The day after we went on a tour of the Sacred Valley and we visited the ruins of Moray, the Salt Mine of Maras and eat gilled cuy on the way to the market of Pisac. One of the biggest market of Peru. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to explore it and a rain shower was coming to welcome us on our way back to Cusco!
Before getting to Cusco we managed to visit an animals-shelter where they rescue domestic and wild life in danger. You can see there many alpacas, llamas, vicuñas, condors, Peruvian dogs and felines from the rainforest.
When back in Cusco we relaxed a bit on the Airbnb found by Amber and got a pizza at the La Pizza Carlo, the pizza was very good but the lady at the cashier decided it was time to get very good tips from us even though we didn’t agree with that or with her service!
On Tuesday was the last day of Amber and Torben in the Peruvian city and we went around searching for souvenirs, beer-milkshakes and yarn (for Gaia!)
The market in Cusco is something pretty amazing and beautiful to explore for many hours! An infinite amount of bags, sweaters, hammocks, gadgets, chocolate, salt and ponchos is waiting for you inside of the indoor market. Stop by the little mamas selling natural products: they have amazing shampoos, creams and oils to buy! When you feel tired just head on the juice shops side and get a full dose of vitamins!
After the market we went ceviche eating at Ceviche Seafood Kitchen. Sit in front of the window upstairs to enjoy the view of Plaza de Armas and the beautiful Catedral Del Cuzco!
Other suggestion for foodies going to Cusco is Incanto, the best Italian restaurant me and Lasse have been in all South America (they have ravioli, polenta with 4 cheese, lasagne and much more!).