Besty and I forwent the 6:30am excursion to Sacayhuaman (Inca ruins just outside of Cusco) and opted instead to meet Ricardo our guide at 8.30am for our journey through the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo.
The Sacred Valley has many Inca sites dotted around it's valleys floors and hillsides. As we drove not only did we marvel at the stunning scenery and snow topped mountains, but also at the large numbers of terracing throughout the Valley, many of which had been built be the Incas (so were over 400 years old). We first stopped at the Pisac Ruins for an hour or so where we learnt more about the Incas and how they built the terraces which looked like they were just hanging in the mountains.
Afterwards we spent sometime in the colorful small village of Pisac. We learnt about chicha; inca beer which the locals still drink and is brewed out of corn, establishments selling it have a large pole with a red rag on the end of it out front. We also sampled empanadas (which I love) from one of the small eateries which were great. While buying the empanadas I was a little freaked out to see a small cage, built like a castle which housed around 20 guiena pigs. It was right next to the woodburning fire and as I approached to take a picture they all scuttled to the back, clearly scared and not wanting to be the next victim for the cooking pot. We browsed around the small market stalls until it was time to meet the guide and we drove onwards to our lunch spot.
Rather oddly most of the group were having lunch at a beautiful hacienda style hotel, our lunch spot we were told was at another place 10 minute away. We were a little suspicious about this situation but our worries were unfounded as we too had a lovely lunch with a very extensive buffet and some great (if expensive) fresh fruit juices.
The last part of the day was spent at Ollantaytambo, a really picturesque town in the Sacred Valley, full of stone streets and houses and gorgeous mountain scenery, the village had a mystical air to it. Ricardo took us to the inca Fortress of Ollantaytambo which as it turned out is a very touristy attraction as there were people everywhere. The group spent about an hour here as he explained all about it's history and really how they believe the Incas constructed the walls and brought the rocks from other valleys. No small feat given the size of the rocks and the distances they had to bring them.
The three of us were dropped off at our hotel for the evening just outside of the towns center (Tunupa Lodge) which we all agreed was one of the nicest places we had stayed (not hard for Brianna since she had been on months Dragoman trip round Brazil and into Peru, mainly bush camping!). The three of us wandered into town for a pisco sour (very careful to just have the one each since we start hiking tomorrow) and some dinner.