Machu Picchu ruins
Set out this morning on a scenic hike through the Sacred Valley that will show you lesser-known Inca ruins, bring you into traditional local communities, and also beging your acclimatization to higher altitudes.
Your hike will start with a short, steep climb up to Puma Marca, a remarkably well preserved and extensive Inca ruin with spectacular views down the valley towards Ollantaytambo. Then follow an Inca trail along the steeply terraced valley back towards Ollantaytambo. Depending on the time of year, you may see people ploughing with oxen, or harvesting by hand. Or perhaps just the colourfully dressed locals walking down to town, from the communities above, where most still wear traditional clothing.
Ollantaytambo (aka, Ollanta), is remembered as one of the few places where the Spanish lost major battles during their conquest of the continent. Climb 200 steps up a stone stairway to the top of the huge Incan fortress, where you will be rewarded with great views. The unfinished temple at the top was still being built when the Spanish eventually succeeded in conquering the area. This site offers an excellent example of Incan city planning: each cancha (block) had one entrance to the central courtyard, from which individual homes were entered.
Visit El Albergue Organic Farm for lunch. A Pachamanca is a traditional way of preparing food in the Andes. In the absence of a stove an oven is built out of stones, the stones are heated with a wood fire and once brought to a very high temperature. The meat and vegetables are then carefully covered with the rocks.Herbs are then added and the whole mound is covered by wet sheets and finally a mound of earth. While the meal is cooking, you will be shown around this organic farm, working to sustainable methods to provide food for the Cafe Mayu restaurant. After 45 minutes the meal is ready and we have the pleasure of digging our delicious potatoes, yams, corn, fava beans, lamb, pork, alpaca, and chicken straight from the earth. You can enjoy your meal under a thatch roof in the middle of the farm with views of the Inca temple of Ollantaytambo, mount Pinkulluna and the Veronica glacier. Food is served family style accompanied by chicha, fresh salads and a variety of sauces, including our tasty uchucutas. Beer and wine are available upon request, and we offer our signature Matacuy as a complimentary digestif after the meal. This is made in the on site distillery, where you can also taste Caña Alta, a sugar cane spirit being distilled here in an attempt to revive lost traditions.
After lunch, take the 1.5-hour Vistadome train ride from Ollanta to Machu Picchu, the “lost citadel” of the Incas. (Baggage limit on PeruRail is 11 lbs.) Be sure to read about Machu Picchu in advance to fully appreciate your guide's expertise. Stumbled upon accidentally by archaeologists in 1911, it remains a mysterious site. There are no Spanish records, Incan legends, or oral histories which explain its exact purpose. Elegant ornamental stonework hints at the possibility of Machu Picchu's importance as a ceremonial center.
On arrival transfer to your hotel.
- Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
- El Mapi (or similar)