South America

Visiting Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas

The plan was to explore a bit of Cusco and visit the Sacred Valley of the Incas. I was quite excited about the excursion, to visit some places outside the city, and being in that amazing and historical valley! Not everything went as I expected, but still an amazing experience.

Isn’t getting easier…, during the dawn (4am) I had to knock my neighbors door and ask them to shut the fuck up! First in spanish, they didn’t understand which I thought it was due my Portuñol but according to Ramón it was ok, and then in English. Damn Argentinian people! We got rid of the Brazilians, then the Argentinians… Despite that, I had a better night of sleep.

Llamas and Alpacas
Llamas and Alpacas

Well, I really recommend that hostel to spend a few nights, but definitely avoid the rooms near the breakfast area! Casa Grande, and read the feedbacks, it’s always important to read them and judge by yourself through them. My opinion is that it was good enough for the price we paid for, I would rate a 3 out of 5 stars.

We had to wake up early due the excursion we had booked for the Sacred Valley, it is impossible to compare this guide with the one we had the day before, this one was just really bad and without facial expression! We had to say it is a joke after his jokes, even when we told them in his native language… How bad is that???

The general feedback about these excursions is that we went to places that otherwise we wouldn’t go, mostly because of lack of knowledge about the places. All of them totally worth the visit, but not running like we did AGAIN. This guy was so terrible that he menaced us, the tourists, that he would leave us behind if we arrive late. Well, it wasn’t nice, but everyone was on time… Did I already mention how bad the guy is?

The first stop is what I call the total dispensable highlight, it was clearly a stop to get money from the tourists. A market, in the middle of nowhere, and famous for something that I really didn’t care much about. The 15-20 minutes we spend there, we could use way better at any other of the stops. Well, at least I took some photos to llamas and to the landscape, which is always stunning in Peru!

Písac Ruins
Písac Ruins

Then we went to Pisac, the town, another stop for shopping but interesting one. Apparently that’s the Silver city/town of the Sacred Valley or even Peru, I can’t reckon the details now. The market is pretty cool, as the town itself, again…, a pity that we had very few time to enjoy it. After that was the archeological site, and that’s when I started to be really pissed of! We had half an hour for a site that requires at least 1 hour! We didn’t have even time to go to the ruins itself!

As I said before, otherwise we wouldn’t go there anyway, but it was the kind of excursions that I really hate and that I barely can enjoy, having to run to “enjoy” the very few minutes I have is not properly my definition of having fun… Ah, and this was also the place where I and Tajana got the first sun-burn…, only on the left side, since we were hiking in the mountain, and it was just for half an hour! The sun burn was pretty ugly though, the following days I had to put cream on it, I think I never had such a painful sun burn in such short period!

Visiting Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas
Visiting Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas

Then time for some lunch, a big self-service feast, where I ate like an animal! Well, here I don’t have much to talk about, just that we ate a lot! After that was time for one, if not the one, favorite places I have visited in Peru! Ollantaytambo! However…, we skipped it. Why? Because the three of us were more than pissed of with the tour, with the guide and with the very short time we had to enjoy the sightseeing places, and since we had to go to Ollantaytambo the day after we decided to postpone the archeological site for the next day as well. We had the Cusco ticket, why waste it on a flash tour when we could enjoy it on our way? We would be back to the Sacred Valley!

What have we done? We booked the hostel for the next night, in Ollantaytambo, and we went to the Hearts Café, more than a café though. Worth reading the linked page for more information! A very cosy place, good food and good mate de Coca. I will leave the photo about Ollantaytambo site for the next post, now just one of what happens when it rains there.

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I highly recommend World Nomads, travel insurance oriented to travelers. Well detailed before the unexpected happens!

We thought we got delayed and when we returned to the meeting point…, no one there! Oh gosh, did we just miss the excursion? Now what??? Oh, wait, that guy was in the bus with us…, and that one…! We are safe! We almost called a taxi to take us back to Cusco, but I am glad we didn’t, the next stop was the best of the excursion, in my opinion obviously.

Chinchero, 3,732m above the sea level! A very beautiful and cozy town, where we learned how to dye alpaca wool! I sooo regret not filming that, was really amazing to see in a slice of seconds wool to change from white to orange, purple, red and yellow! They use/used (probably they don’t use the artisanal way anymore) cactus bugs to dye wool! From all the photos I took there, the one I choose to post here is from that same workshop we had, imagine how impressed I wasn’t with that! Also, it was there were I bought an alpaca blanket for myself!

Wool and natural and traditional dyes
Wool and natural and traditional dyes

Tired like hell, all of us, and back to Cusco from our day trip through the Sacred Valley! I think I slept the whole trip back to the city, probably more than one hour… But still willing to enjoy the few hours left we had in Cusco, therefore after the arrival we went for a walk where I took some time for myself and photo-shooting in Cusco at night. Not much time alone…, but enough for a few photos (which I am looking into them now and check if the time worth anything). And time for a nice dinner at the Plaza de Armas, before going to bed.

Some kids approached me asking me to take some photos of them, at night and kids moving was a funny challenge, I wasn’t expecting any good result from that and the kid got “blurred”, but I like the effect of it anyway. Not a good photo, but funny for me.


By Gil Sousa

Portuguese expat in Cork, traveler and food enthusiastic.

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