Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 - Peru Day 3 (Cusco)

Breakfast at the hotel (Hostel Wara Wara) included bread with jam and scrambled eggs along with hot drinks. Nothing to write home about but it is included in the price.

Through our hotel we were able to coordinate a driver for the day for 220 soles (roughly $90 CAD). With this opportunity, we tried to visit as many major sites as we could.  We left at 8:00am and got back to the city around 6:00pm.

View from the hotel balcony

To visit these historic sites you will need a boleto turistico. 130 soles allows you entrance to 16 sites within 10 days or 70 soles allows you to go to 4 sites within a day.

Boleto Turistico

We stopped briefly on the side of the road to see some llamas. It was weird to see 2 of them randomly tied up along the side of the road. Oh, for some reason I still don't understand, animals roam free in this country. I did not see any fences for any farm animals. I'm talking chicken, cows, pigs, and horses which just roam freely.

Our first site was Chinchero, a small village with a local market. There are terraces here that you will see everywhere. The idea behind terraces are many fold (or so we were told). The terraces allow you grow different crops on different levels due to microclimates. You can also breed crops to grow at different altitudes by growing one set of crops on one terrace and move the seeds to the next level and the next level and the next level. We spent about 30 minutes here. I would say it is skippable since you will see terraces everywhere.  I am told the market is better than Pisac, but it all seems the same to me.

At the Chinchero Market with Sharon (green) and Allison (pink)
Chinchero Terraces

That reminds me, in Canada, political signs are usually just placed on your front lawn. In Peru they actually paint their signs on the sides of buildings! It is really weird driving around and seeing entire buildings covered with a political leader.

Sample of political sign

Next we went to Moray. This is a pretty neat site to visit for terraces. They are organized in circular formation and was used in the past by the Incans to test growing crops (or so the theory goes). Spent about 30 minutes here. Allows you to go to the bottom and back to the top.

Sharon, Allison and myself at Moray

Moray, those tiny specks are people
Salinas is Cusco's salt pans. When you drive by, you cannot miss this. Thousands of squarish pools are used to collect salt water and with the heat from the sun, dries the water and they sift out the salt. Where the water comes from is still a mystery somehow. Spent roughly 30 minutes here. The boleta turistico does not cover the entrance for this site. It costs 7 soles.

Salinas from above

Salinas up close

We went for lunch at Inka House in Urubamba, an obvious tourist trap. 42 soles for a good buffet though. Lots of salad, beef, goat, alpaca and more. The value isn't bad.  As a bonus, we did get pisco sours included with the meal!

Buffet at Inka House

Ollantaytambo is a fairly large size for a Incan fortress. It is a neat site with fantastic views of the mountains. Read up on the history to enjoy the place a bit more.

Someone about to be kicked off Ollantaytambo
Pisac is our last and final stop of the day and it is a huge site. Spend some time here if you can. We only had 30 minutes here and it was not nearly enough time.

Pisac Terraces

Pisac Terraces with a village at the top

We had to get to Alpaca Expeditions to do our briefing prior to the trek. We found out that the entire group would be from Canada! The other 5 members of our group (for a total of 8) come from Ottawa.

For dinner we just grabbed some McDonald's from the main square. There wasn't anything really different at this one except they sold fried chicken (usually McDonald's caters to the local people).

Us at the McDonald's in Cusco

Tomorrow we start our 4 Day Inca Trail!