We left Lima and caught 10am flight, one of the many to Cusco, it appears at least in the mornings there are plane leaving Lima for Cusco every 15 minutes, which we found quite surprising.

Snow in the higher elevations of the Andes Mountains even in the summer.
Cusco from the air, located in a valley.

Cusco is located at an elevation 3400M/11200ft in the Andes mountains. Having just arrived from sea level we were careful not to exert ourselves too much as we needed time to climatize to the elevation.
As we were driving to the hotel the local constabulary were out monitoring a protest at a local government building.

When we arrived at our hotel and checked-in we had an orientation with some of the other people on our tour. The hotel provided Cocoa Tea for everyone which is supposed to help with altitude sickness, Catherine drank lots of this over our time here.
From here we wandered through the streets to the local town square.

Over the next couple of days as walked around we found and Irish Pub which sold Guinness, only in cans though. They had some interesting memorabilia on the walls.

It was now time to head out to see some sites in the Sacred Valley. First up was a local village where the women ran a cooperative that raised Llama’s and Alpaca’s. They raised the animals for their wool, from which they made various types of handmade garments, such as gloves, sweaters, bags, blankets etc. these would then be sold to tourists.

These people use various natural items to colour the products they make. These items are the same or similar to what we witnessed in some of the native Mexican cultures.

After we purchased a baby Llama wool sweater each we pilled back on the bus to our next stop.  The wool is called baby llama if it the first shear from the llama, even though the llama may be several years old.

From here we headed to another village where a gentleman showed us how they made bricks from the local clay mixed with water and straw, the mixing was performed by foot inside a form, like treading grapes. The form is then removed and the blocks were then left to dry before using. Most of the buildings in this area are built from these bricks, then some are finished with a layer of clay. These bulls are added to the roofs of building for good luck.

They also made other items form this clay such as pottery, figurines etc. which were all painted by hand.

Next up lunch at a small Finca (farm) using all local grown/raised/caught products. They have built a building to be used for entertaining tourists where they prepare and serve local dishes.

From here we travelled to Ollantaytambo arriving mid afternoon, we would be staying the night here.
Ollantaytambo (Quechua: Ullantaytampu) is a town and an Inca archaeological site in southern Peru some 72 km (45 mi) by road northwest of the city of Cusco. It is located at an altitude of 2,792 m (9,160 ft) above sea level in the district of Ollantaytambo, province of Urubamba, Cusco region. During the Inca Empire, Ollantaytambo was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti, who conquered the region, and built the town and a ceremonial center. At the time of the Spanish conquest of Peru, it served as a stronghold for Manco Inca, leader of the Inca resistance. Nowadays, located in what is called the Sacred Valley of the Incas, it is an important tourist attraction on account of its Inca ruins and its location en route to one of the most common starting points for the four-day, three-night hike known as the Inca Trail. (Wikipedia)
After we checked into our hotel, we decided we would visit some local Inca ruins called Pinkuylluna, these were located just on the northeast quadrant of the town. Our hotel was in the southeast quadrant, this meant walking through the streets and up an alley.

Pinkuylluna or Pinkulluna (Quechua, Hispanicized spellings Pincuylluna, Pinculluna) is an archaeological site on a mountain of the same name in Peru located in the Cusco Region. (Wikipedia)

The Pinkuylluna ruins from our hotel.

On the way back down, we noticed an area with wild flowers growing.

Once back in town we walked to the town square where we found an English Pub.

Inside it was more like an American style bar than an English Pub, but they had draft beer.

We sat on the balcony where we could see the whole square.

From here we went for dinner then back to the hotel for the night.

Next: The Sacred Valley Part 2

 

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