Below you will find highlights from my 16 day trip Peru / Machu Picchu trip:
Urubamba / Sacred Valley Highlights
Trip Report Chapters:
• Peru 16 day trip: Itinerary, Points & Miles
• Daily Highlights
• Hotel: Sheraton Lima
• Urubamba / Sacred Valley ⌫ (you are reading this)
• Hotel: Tambo del Inka, Resort & Spa (Urubamba)
• Aguas Calientes / Putucusi Mountain
• How to Book Machu Picchu Tickets Online (without pulling your hair out!)
• Machu Picchu & Wayna Picchu (Huayna Picchu)
• Hotel: La Pequeña Casita (Aguas Calientes)
• Amazon Jungle (Puerto Maldonado)
• Hotel: Amazon Planet (Puerto Maldonado)
• Hotel: Palacio del Inka (Cusco)
• Puno / Lake Titicaca
• Hotel: Tierra Viva Puno Plaza (Puno)
• Colca Valley
• Hotel: Killawase Lodge (Yanque, Colca Valley)
• Hotel: Los Tambos (Arequipa)
• Sandboarding in Huacachina
Day 4 – Exploring the Sacred Valley
When we arrived to Urubamba, nothing had yet been planned so I had no idea what to expect. This day was arranged in the lobby of Tambo del Inka while we checked in. We hired a private local guide, Oscar Guevara, through the hotel. Oscar picked us up at 8am and we spent the day touring 3 archeological sites: Moray, Salineras/Maras (salt mine), and Ollantaytambo (like a mini-Machu Picchu). We skipped the 4th site, Pisac (a market). Don't worry, you will have vendors selling your favorite ‘Made in China' goods at almost every stop and everywhere you look, even in remote places in the mountains. Click here to read a quick guide to the area.
The Sacred Valley
This map will give you an idea of the major sites:
Our Local Guide
Oscar was an excellent English speaking guide. He lives in the area and said he studied tourism in Cusco. Several readers have already contacted him and said they were happy with him. Below is his contact information in case you would like to get in touch with him. I've also listed his services/tours and the prices. Had we known earlier, we would have hired him to pick us up at the airport because he was cheaper and more pleasant than the airport taxi service.
Name: Oscar Guevara
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org
All the prices are for up to 3 people that can fit in his car. If you have 4 to 6 people, he will rent a van and charge a bit more (see below). If you combine the tour with the ride from Cusco, you’ll save money but have less time at the sites. We arrived in the afternoon, took a cab to the hotel and arranged the tour for the next day.
Here are his services/tours and prices as of December 2013.
1) Cusco Airport to tambo del inka hotel = 90 soles
2) Tour pickup at Tambo del Inka, 3 sites (Moray, Salineras de Maras (salt mine), and Ollantaytambo) = 240 soles (or 400 for 4 to 6 people) (I did this and booked through the hotel for 300 soles — definitely recommend this one!)
3) Tour pickup at Tambo del Inka, 4 sites including Pisac = 300 soles (a full day) (470 soles for 4 to 6 people)
4) Tour pickup at Tambo del Inka, only to the Pisac market and archaeological parts = 160 soles
5) Transfer from Tambo del Inka to the train station in Ollantaytambo = 45 soles
6) Tour in Machupicchu full day 90 dollars include a walk to the sun gate, or Wayna Picchu
7) Transfer to Cusco from Ollantaytambo station = 135 soles
8) Transfer from Tambo del Inka to Cusco 90 soles.
Our first stop was Moray (tripadvisor review). The drive to Moray has a beautiful backdrop.
We lucked out – Moray was empty so I was able to take some nice pictures. I thought it might be due to the time of the year (December), but Oscar said a few days ago it was packed with tourists. Perhaps we just beat the tour buses. I rarely hire private guides due to the cost but am so happy I did here.
Supposedly, this smaller terrace has some special spiritual significance and some people come here specifically to experience this. Well, that's the story I heard.
The second stop was to Salineras de Maras (tripadvisor review) – an operating salt mine. The visit here was brief but interesting.
The salt pans were very muddy due to the heavy rains over the prior week. As you walk along the top ridge, there are piles of salt that you can touch, and if you want, taste. Tip: don't taste the yellow salt!
After we saw the salt pans, our guide offered us a short hike – we could hike down the back side or drive down in the car. We chose to hike. On the way down, we walked through a small village wondering if our guide was really going to meet us or leave us there. Good thing Oscar was there waiting for us.
The third stop was Ollantaytambo (tripadvisor review). It was described to me as a mini-Machu Picchu. There are small tourist shops at the entrance if you need a drink, snack, or gift.
There weren't many options near the hotel. Tres Keros was open, walking distance, and rated #1 on tripadvisor so that's where we went. We had the entire restaurant to ourselves. The food was good, not amazing. They even lit the wood burning fireplace for us. The other option was to eat at the hotel which was very expensive. I prefer the local spots.
These photos were taken using my Canon S100 Digital Camera, which has now been replaced by the S110 and S120. It tiny, fits in my pocket, and takes amazing pictures. I used to carry a larger digital SLR (Nikon D40) but it was so bulky I rarely wanted to take the camera with me.
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