Sleep at the end of Day 2 of our Inca Trail adventure did not come easy. I’m sure some it was the excitement Heather and I were feeling about the Inca Trail hike ahead. But, most of it was the noisy street outside the window of our hotel room. I actually broke out the earplugs that I have carried with me for years and never used!
Day 3 of Our Inca Trail Adventure – Cusco to Ollantaytambo
The alarm was set for 6a, but I was awake well before it went off. After a quick breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant we checked out and met Jesus for a 7a departure. Our first stop was Christo Blanco. A white statue of Jesus (not our tour guide) that overlooks Cusco City in the valley below. Jesus gave us a history lesson of Cusco City and its importance to the Inca culture. The view of Cusco City below was amazing. After a few pictures we loaded back on to the bus.
View of Cusco City from Christo Blanco
Stop #2 for the day was at Ccaccaccollo. This community is a G Adventures-supported women’s weaving co-op. Jesus and a local guide demonstrated the weaving process for us. Seeing how they dye the alpaca and llama wool is worth the trip itself. I will not ruin the surprise here, you just need to see it for yourself. After the demonstration we were given some time to check out the items for sale. If you in the market for an alpaca or llama souvenir, this is the place to get it. You can be assured it is 100% alpaca or llama, 100% handmade, and 100% supporting the local community.
Demonstration of how wool is cleaned before being dyed
Demonstration of how different dye colors are created
After everyone was done shopping, Jesus rounded us up and we headed for the bus. Stop #3 was a scenic overlook. This was our first glimpse of the Sacred Valley where we would be hiking the Inca Trail. After a few quick photos we loaded back on the bus and headed for stop #4.
Our First Glimpse of The Sacred Valley
The hilltop citadel of Pisac was the first archeological site of our tour. It was also our first experience with how the altitude would affect us. After a quick history lesson from Jesus we were turned loose to explore for ourselves. Most of us headed for the top of the ruins. The climb was mostly stairs and only about 100 feet of elevation change. But at about 10,000 feet above sea level it felt like a lot more.
View from Atop the Pisac ruins
After ample time for exploration we gathered once again and loaded up the bus. We were headed to our lunch destination. (Yes, we did all of this before lunch!) We had to make one quick stop though… at a roadside vendor to pick up Cuy for lunch. What we commonly call Guinea Pig is a local delicacy in Peru.
Lizzy and Sheila Buying Cut
Cuy as Served at Lunch
Stop #5 was lunch at the Parwa Community. This is another G Adventures-supported program where the local families provide a sustainable farm-to-table restaurant for those headed to the Inca Trail. The lunch was amazing. Heather and I both tried, and enjoyed, the Cuy. It tasted like dark meat chicken to us. If you get the chance, definitely give it a try. In Peru, Cuy are food not friends!
After lunch we had a lengthy ride to Ollantaytambo. After not sleeping well the night before and the awesome lunch I had eaten, I slept for most of the trip. Stop #5 In Ollantaytambo was to check into Hotel Inka Paradise. After a 30 minute break we were on the move again and headed to the local ruins. Jesus again did a great job explaining the history of the city and ruins, and its importance to the Incas.
Our Room at Hotel Inka Paradise
After Jesus’ talk he left us to explore the ruins, and the town, before meeting back at the hotel for dinner. Most of our group headed for the Sun Temple at the top of the ruins. The stairs were steep and challenging, but those that made the trip were rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding valleys.
Heather Looking Down from Ollantaytambo Sun Temple
Pano from Atop Sun Temple (click for larger version)
After some exploration of the town, Heather and I headed to the hotel to relax a bit before dinner. Dinner was at a tex-mex place that Jesus took us to. Once dinner was over it was time for bed. Tomorrow would be here soon enough, and the hiking portion of our tour would begin!