Cusco and the Sacred Valley

It’s been a while since the last update, due to the events of the past week.

After LA we took an 8 hour flight down to Peru. To me, Peru is as exotic as it gets. It’s literally halfway across the world from Hong Kong and mirrored latitudinally in the Southern Hemisphere. We landed in Lima and after one night we flew to Cusco, the capital of the ancient Incan empire. We first headed to Urubamba, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, one of the empire’s main points for the extraction of natural wealth, and the best place for maize production in Peru.

On the way to the Sacred Valley
On the way to the Sacred Valley
In the Sacred Valley, we stayed in small bungalows like these
In the Sacred Valley, we stayed in a small bungalow
The Urubamba river and the Andes mountains
The Urubamba river and the Andes mountains

We visited Ollantaytambo, an Inca archaeological site that starts the Inca trail. It is a panoramic beauty but walking up the stairs was very tiring because of a lack of exercise and the high altitudes of the mountains (Sacred ‘Valley’ is nestled between the mountains of the Andes range but nonetheless located approximately 2500 meters above sealevel).

Ollantaytambo
At the foot of Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo was originally a temple in the sacred valley, but later became a fortress the Incas used against the Spanish conquerors. It looks a hundred times better in real life than in pictures because of its overwhelming size/height and the scenic view overlooking the valley, the little town of Urubamba and the mountains behind from the top.

After staying the night in the Sacred Valley, we traveled to nearby Pisac to visit the Pisac market. Peru (or the Amazon for that matter) is famous for its gems and stones, notably birth stones, so I got a few of them. Then, we went to Sacsayhuamán, an Inca walled complex near the old city of Cusco, at an altitude of 3,701 m (approx 12,000 feet). We didn’t wear oxygen masks, so we were easily out of breath after a few steps. It’s hard to breathe when the air is so thin.

The rocks at Sacsayhuamán are so huge!!!
The rocks at Sacsayhuamán are so big!!!

It’s unbelievable how the Incas were able to carry 100-ton rocks all the way to the top of the mountain, and carve them in order for them to fit perfectly on top of one another without cement or any adhesive! Note that they were able to build this at such an altitude more than a thousand years ago before the invention of wheels in Inca civilization!

Next we headed to the Llama farm, to see llamas, alpacas and vicunas! They were domesticated so they were extremely tame and cute. Alpacas have beautiful camel-like eyes and fur so soft you cannot even feel them. HO LUNN DUK YEE!! They’re like sheep except smaller, softer, gentler, prettier, cuter and better ~~ and Llamas are the smaller, cuter versions of camels lol. Vicunas are cute as well, except less friendly and more violent. Their wool is the absolute highest grade that can sell for thousands of USD because their wool can only be sheared off once they are shot and killed due to their vicious nature.

Breathtaking view of Urubamba, the Sacred Valley
Breathtaking shot of Urubamba, the Sacred Valley

We spent a night in Cusco and I found it to be difficult to sleep because of the lack of oxygen in the air. I constantly needed the oxygen tank in order to breathe properly and acclimatize. It was necessary to acclimatize quickly and get plenty of rest because the next day we were going to go to Machu Picchu…

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