We woke early to wait for our pickup for our tour to the Sacred Valley. Steve and Charm were staying in a different accomodation and we had organised to be on the same tour yet it seemed we were not picking them up. After half an hour of confusion and a change of busses we found them, also a little worried we had separated, but excited for the day to come.
A tour guide told us the history of Cuzco and its countryside as we drove out of the valley that it sits in and towards the Sacred Valley. The scenery was beautiful with lush green fields, huge mountains and snow-capped mountains in the distance, and locals adorned in their traditional atire herding sheep, alpacas and llamas. It was a beautiful drive that we all loved.
Our first stop was at an alpaca and llama farm where we learnt the difference between the two and that they belonged to the camel family whilst we fed them and took some photos. Afterwards we watched local women dressed in the local garments making clothes, rugs and bags made from alpaca wool and a small demonstration on how they coloured the wool to the bright colours that they wear.
Back aboard the bus, our next stop was a view point overlookiing the whole Sacred Valley. Again the mountains reached up beyond the clouds, the huge rushing river at the base of the mountains and waterfalls adding to the mix were all nothing short of spectacular (my Dad's favourite word).
Heading down into the Valley we stopped in a small town with a giant marketplace. You could easily spend two days walking through these markets looking at all the locally made clothes, bags, paintings, and trinkets. Unfortunately we were given only 50 minutes as we were on a tight schedule. A little disappointed to say goodbye to the markets we continued on to our final destination, Ollytatambo.
Ollytatambo is a very small town/village that houses ancient Inka ruins built up on the side of one of the surrounding mountains. Learning the history of the ruins was very interesting but what was most interesting was actually how they transported the stone used to build the temples. The stones were sourced from a neighbouring mountain that soared above the one they built the temples on. It took one year of manual labour to slide each stone down the mountain and up to their current positions. And the techniques used are so ahead of their time it was a very fascinating experience.
This finished our tour as we were staying overnight here to catch the train up to Aguas Caliente (Machu Picchu Town) the next day. The others on our tour headed back to Cuzco to complete their tour.
Our accomodation on this night was easily the highlight of the tour. We were about to head out to find a cheap hotel for Kate and myself but Steve and Charm being extremely generous shouted us a room in probably the best hotel we've ever stayed in. I could have slept in the foyer with a big smile on my face. But I didn't have to as we stayed in a lush room and walked around in robes feeling like royalty.
The hotel was sat by the river flowing through the Sacred Valley and beautiful trees and walking out the front entrance you were hit with a stunning view of a mountainous landscape with snow capped mountains in the background. The dinner was beautiful and followed by a swim in a heated outdoor pool looking up at the stars and a hot spa and sauna to end it off. We slept like babies, needless to say.
I made use of the gym the next morning (regretting it the next day on a big hike!) and we all enjoyed a massive buffet breaky before our train trip up to Aguas Caliente, the base camp to Machu Picchu! The tour was a great experience and we are so glad that we were able to do it but as I said being broke backpackers, staying in this hotel was a definate highlight!