Peru Backtrack

There will never been enough words to fully describe Peru and all that we did and experienced there, but I can put words to incidents both hilarious and sublime. We went through the Sacred Valley with great gusto, packing it all in. We stayed just outside of Urubamba at a place that can only be described as Eden. It was pure bliss. We used it as a base among other things. We launched our day trips from there and were always so happy to come back at the end of the day. Many of us even caught ourselves calling it "home" after just a day. It was that warm and welcoming.

Ollantaytambo was our first major stop. It has the famous terraces that can be seen all over Peru. They now find so many archeological sites all over the country that they can scarcely keep track of all of them. This particular site is on what I would call the smaller side, but still expanding across the side of a large hill. The main site was directly in front of us, but there were several interesting offshoot temples down a trail and off the right side. We were lucky enough to have wonderful guides that showed us both, along with a few ceremonies to boot.


Pisaq or Pisac followed the next day and looked like a scene straight out of the sound of music with Inca ruins. The landscape was stunning, green rolling mountains and bright blue sky as far as you could see. We hiked up to the site and were able to take in even more beauty in both site and sound. The guide for the day was filled with wisdom for both past and present. Our time with him was precious. After visiting the site, we made a quick stop at the market. We needed about two more hours in this market than we had. They had everything, jewelry, alpaca products, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves, food, you name it they had it. It later turned out that it was the best place to shop of all the places we visited. Another note for a return trip. The haggling and the products were good. Well worth the haggle.

Now onto the big kahuna, Machu Picchu. One of the few sites I have been to that lives up to the hype. It does not disappoint. The site had just reopened. We were very fortunate. It had been closed for almost for months due to tremendous flooding that happened during the rainy season several months earlier. Bridges, train tracks and entire villages were destroyed and washed away by the fierce Urubamba river overflowing its banks. As Machu Picchu is the biggest tourist site in the country and a major source of income, they set to fixing it as soon as they could. Lucky for us.

The train snaked up and through the mountains along the Urubamba River, taking us deeper and deeper into isolation. All along the way we could see men still working on the tracks, mangled railroad ties in the water and remnants of landslides on the side of the mountains. It quickly become even more apparent than when in the other towns how devastating these floods had been. The train leaves you off in Aguas Calientes, which only exists because Machu Picchu was discovered. Many of the hotels and restaurants had a foot or more of water and mud in their buildings during the time of the flood and a town that usually numbers around 40,000 went down to 1500 people. No one could get in and out for a long time, and when they could they stayed away. Tourists which make up most of the transient population were unable to reach it because of the destruction of the railroad.