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23 July 2024
Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley, Peru.

After a good breakfast buffet this morning at our hotel in Cusco, we set off for a tour of the Sacred Valley of The Incas.

The Sacred Valley.

As we drove through the rural landscape & through many small shanty towns, we noticed a large police presence & were told by our guide that the president of Peru was due through today. There must be an election & he needs the people in the shanty towns to vote for him.

For lunch, we stopped off at a restaurant on the grounds of a very impressive hotel, where they had an equally impressive buffet. I noticed a few pilots leaving this complex & returning to Cusco for their flights. They must be very good pilots to afford to stay in such luxury. When we had finished lunch, we continued through the Sacred Valley, past a few small villages & crossed a large river with buildings perched precariously along the river bank.

We drove through the mountains & arrived at the town of Ollantaytambo. We stopped there to visit a market where we were shown the different meat, fish & vegetables on the stalls at the local market. After visiting the market, we walked through the town to the archaeological site at Ollantaytambo. This was a very impressive-looking walled Inca site. I was looking up at the steep terracing going up the mountain & wondering how people managed to get to the top. I would find out a short time later as we went in & took a walking tour to the top. For little people, the Incas seemed to have had very steep steps & it was very tiring walking up them. I blamed my shortness of breath on the altitude & not my state of fitness.

From the top, we could see the homes below us. Across the valley, on another mountain, we could see storehouses built onto the rock face & I wondered how the workers walked up & down to these storehouses carrying food. Even more unbelievable was how they carried the stone to build the stores up the mountainside & built them in such precarious positions.

At the top of the steps, there was a long walk down that could be taken that was not so steep but was not so well looked after & had long, unguarded drops down the mountain. Walking down it would have put the drop on my blind side & being wary of my inability to see where the path finished & the long drop started, I decided to go back down the steep steps again. It was a walk that I did not enjoy. Because I can't gauge depth, I found it difficult; for some steps, I lowered myself down on my backside, but for the majority of it, I did manage to walk down.

Our long drive back to Cuzco was longer than expected as the coach we were on stuttered to a halt on four occasions. The coach, it seemed, was suffering from altitude sickness itself & we were all glad when we finally got back to the hotel. I feel that today's driver deserved a special mention for coping with the difficult conditions & keeping us all safe.

Once again this evening I have a sandwich & a beer in the hotel. The hotel bar has a piano & a pianist, providing guests with entertainment. If you ever saw the great Les Dawson play the piano, you will understand what the entertainment was like. Unfortunately, the pianist probably hadn't heard of Les Dawson & was not playing that way for the laughter it provided, it was all-natural.

Photos from the Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo.