To many, the lost city of Machu Picchu and the Inca capital of Cusco represent the biggest tourist highlights of Peru. Arriving in the Urubamba Valley (or Sacred Valley of the Incas) where Machu Picchu, Cusco and several other famous Inca sites are located felt like we were entering the heartland of the Inca Empire. We spent our first full day in Cusco exploring the nearby Inca sites in the Urubamba Valley. From Cusco, we took a regional bus to the town of Pisac. Pisac serves as the gateway of the valley from Cusco. Our primary destination in Pisac was the Inca ruins on the hilltop. From the bus drop-off, we hired a taxi to take us to the hilltop. The taxi ride took about 20 minutes.
At the hilltop where the ruins sat, we could truly admire the Inca’s fabulous agricultural terraces. Set against the mountainous backdrop, the agricultural terraces dominated the steep hillsides. Top of the terraces lie a series of ceremonial platforms, temple and citadel overlooking the valley.
After the visit to Pisac, we hopped onto a minibus to Urubamba, and from Urubamba, we took a collective van up to the village of Ollantaytambo, the starting point of the famous Inca Trail and home of another famous Inca ruins. At the main square of Ollantaytambo, we went to the Hearts Cafe for lunch. Hearts Cafe was another charity establishment, this time, by an English woman and her NGO Living Heart, which engaged in a number of children and community projects in the Sacred Valley.
After lunch, we climbed the steep steps to the top of the Inca ruins, the Terraces of Pumatallis which offered a spectacular view of the village of Ollantaytambo. In addition to religious purposes, the massive Terraces of Pumatallis also served as a fortress during the resistance against the Spanish conquest.
After Ollantaytambo, we continued our visit of the Sacred Valley. We took a local bus and returned to Urubamba, from where we hired a taxi for the Salinas salt pans and the Inca terraces of Moray.
Early morning at Ninos Hotel, a charity establishment founded by a Dutch woman in 1996 to help the street children in Cusco.
Our quadruple room Carolyn, named after one of the street children at Ninos Hotel, was located on the upper level.
Agricultural terraces dominate the hillside of the mountain where the Inca ruins sat in Pisac.
There were footpaths connecting to other parts of the ruins and Inca terraces in Pisac.
Inca ruins in Pisac lie atop the agricultural terraces.
This gateway at Pisac presented a fine example of the mortar-free stone masonry perfectly fit together with hand tools, a common construction feature in many Inca structures.
A stone retaining wall at the Inca ruins in Pisac.
Inca terraces in Pisac.
We had lunch at Hearts Cafe near the main square of Ollantaytambo.
The terraces of Pumatallis in Ollantaytambo witnessed some fierce battles against the Spanish during the twilight moments of the Incas.
View of the village of Ollantaytambo from the Terraces of Pumatallis
Terraces of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.
The stone works and steep steps at Terraces of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.
Magnificent Inca stone work at the terrace of Pumatallis, Ollantaytambo.
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Read other posts on Peru Trip 2010
1. Peru Trip 2010
2. Bumpy Arrival, Lima & Arequipa, Peru
AREQUIPA & COLCA CANYON
3. Monasterio de Santa Catalina, Arequipa, Peru
4. Plaza de Armas, Arequipa, Peru
5. Volcanoes and Vicuna, Pampa Canahuas Natural Reserve, Patahuasi, and Patapampa, Peru
6. Yanque, Colca Canyon, Peru
7. Cruz del Condor, Colca Canyon, Peru
8. Farming Terraces, Colca Canyon, Peru
PUNO & TITICACA
9. Road to Titicaca, Colca Canyon to Puno, Peru
10. Afternoon on Taquile Island, Titicaca, Peru
11. Morning on Taquile, Titicaca, Peru
12. Inka Express, Puno to Cusco, Peru
CUSCO & SACRED VALLEY
13. Pisac & Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru
14. Salinas de Maras, & Moray, Sacred Valley, Peru
15. Lucuma Milkshake & Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru
16. Saksaywaman, Cusco, Peru
17. KM 82 to Wayllabamba, Inca Trail, Peru
18. Wayllabamba to Pacamayo, Inca Trail, Peru
19. Pacasmayo to Winay Wayna, Inca Trail, Peru
20. Winay Wayna to Machu Picchu, Inca Trail, Peru
21. Machu Piccu, Inca Trail, Peru
22. Machu Picchu in Black and White, Inca Trail, Peru
23. Afterthought, Inca Trail, Peru
LAST DAY IN CUSCO & LIMA
24. Farewell to the Incas, Cusco, Peru
25. Last Day in Peru, Lima, Peru