Hidden Galápagos and Peru

September 11-26, 2021
Mike and Judy Henderson

I'll leave the trip diagrams on each page so you can see where we are.

 

9/13/2021 (Monday)  We were up at 3am this morning.  Breakfast was at 4:45, with departure for the Lima airport at 5:30.

Here's some of the tour people at breakfast.

We made it to the airport in plenty of time and the flight was on time.  Marcos managed to get all of us in the first group to board the aircraft.  It was an Airbus A320-200.

Here's some of our group on the plane.  You can see that we had early boarding because all the other seats are empty.

We arrived in Cusco safely and boarded our bus, heading to the Sacred Valley of the Incas.  When we arrived at the beginning of the Sacred Valley, we posed for a group picture.

First row:  Jamie Calcutt, Timothy Zink, Mary (M.C.) Hart, Gailen Hart. 

Second row: your faithful scribe, Judy Henderson, Paula Scafuri, Ralph Scafuri, Elizabeth Kuzmick, Robert Kuzmick.

We continued into the valley to the Hacienda Huayocari for lunch.  The Hacienda is a large, privately owned farm that hosts Tauck guests in a large room that can also be used for celebrations.  It also has a small but lovely display of museum quality artifacts.  We enjoyed a very nice lunch in an interesting place.

After lunch we moved to a horse show area where three riders showed off the gaits of their Peruvian Paso horses.  Here's one.  These horses have a very smooth gait, keeping three hooves on the ground at all times while in motion.  The Rose Parade in Pasadena always has a group of Peruvian Pasos in the Parade.

Three riders and horses displayed their skills.  Then two dancers came out and danced traditional Peruvian dances.  They were elegant.  I took many pictures but can only show a few here.

Here's the male dancer doing a solo.  The female dancer was lovely and I have many pictures of her, also.

At the conclusion, the three riders and horses came out and joined the two dancers and they bowed to the audience - the horses even bowed.

Here are two of the riders.

Judy went up to one of the horses to give him some attention.

A picture of all of the performers and all of our group.

After this, we continued up the Sacred Valley to our hotel for the night, the Belmond Rio Sagrado.  The hotel is at 9,400 feet and is built into the side of a hill.  It's a nice hotel but the restaurant is at the foot of the hill and the only way to get to and from your room is to walk stairs.  It's somewhat like being on the third or fourth floor of a hotel and having to walk the stairs to and from your room - and at 9,400 feet of altitude.  It puts you into an uncomfortable oxygen debt position.

But the rooms are nice, although a bit small.  This was ours.

The room had an expansive view of the mountain and the river at it's foot.  This picture was taken the next morning.

That evening, Tauck arranged for a show at the foot of the hill.  It was pretty spectacular.  The story had something to do with Peruvian religious legends and gods, but we needed the translation that Marcos provided.  It was quite a production.

While we were at dinner, our room attendant came and did a bed turn down.  He put two hot water bottles in the bed for us to warm our feet on.  They covered the hot water bottles to look like baby Llamas.  Very cute.

We had been up since 3am so we went to bed early.  Tomorrow we don't have an early departure but we have to have our luggage outside our door by 7:30.

9/14/2021 (Tuesday)  We had set the alarm for 6:00 but woke up a bit before that.  We packed a duffel bag with things we would need for one day.  That bag will go with us to Machu Picchu, while the rest of our luggage will go back to Cusco.

We went to breakfast a bit before 8am.  At 8, one of the workers brought out the hotel llamas to feed.  Judy wanted to go feed them, so I went with her.  Here she's feeding one of the bigger llamas while I'm feeding the baby llama.  We're feeding them warm milk in a bottle with a nipple.

When breakfast was finished, the staff brought out a cake for one of the women on the tour, Jamie Calcutt.  It was her 50th birthday and we were leaving shortly, so it was cake for breakfast or else.  We all sang "Happy Birthday" to her.

We left the hotel about 9:30 and headed to Ollantaytambo where we'd catch the train to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu.  We were surprised when we stopped at Ollantaytambo and were brought to an Archeological Park - I had never heard of this park, and it's impressive.

Side note:  Marcos got walking sticks for everyone.  This turned out to be a very good decision because most of us did not believe we needed a walking stick.  But when we got on the trails in Machu Picchu (and other trails) they proved to be very useful.  Tauck should make this a standard thing for the Machu Picchu and Galagapos tour.

It's a series of agricultural terraces, but the size of the structure is amazing. 

Here's a closer view of the main part of the terraces.  You can walk (or maybe I should say "climb") to the top of the terraces.  Judy and I decided that at our age, we'd let other more adventurous people do that.

Across the valley there's a mountain with a structure on it - it's hard to see the detail (pointed to with the yellow arrow). 

These were storage sheds for storing agricultural products.  Here's a picture I took from the web that shows the detail.  The Incas were definitely builders.

We were very close to the train station, and walked there.

Here's the train that we took to Machu Picchu.  This picture was taken at the end of the ride.

Tauck had purchased a whole car based on the forty expected guests, so we had lots of room on the train.

They served us Pisco sours shortly after we departed.

And a picture of Judy on the train.

There's a famous hiking trail called the Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu.  We passed the local starting point and I got a couple of pictures.  I think it's about 26 miles long and most people take five days to do it.  The problem, I expect, is the altitude gain.

Here's another view.  Notice how dry it is here.  As we got closer to Machu Picchu it got a lot wetter.

The train follows the Urubamba River, as does the Inca Trail for part of the way.  The trail veers off into the mountains about half way to Machu Picchu and must be hard going because of the altitude gain.

After about an hour and a half, we came into the Machu Picchu area.

We hurried from the train station to the place where you catch the bus to Machu Picchu.  This is a view of the Urabamba River that flows through Aguas Calientes.  We crossed the bridge heading to the bus stop.  You can see one of the buses in the middle-right of the picture.

The buses are modern.

The drive up to Machu Picchu gains nearly 1,300 feet.  The road is a switchback and buses are going down at the same time you're going up, and the road is not very wide.  But the bus drivers manage.  This picture doesn't even show the beginning of the road.  The entrance to Machu Picchu - and the hotel we'll be staying in - is part of the gray building in the upper portion of the picture.

Here's a view from Google maps.  It's somewhat reversed from the previous picture.  Machu Picchu is towards the bottom of this picture.

It was wet when we arrived, with a slight mist.  We had tickets that were for 1pm but it was already nearly 2pm by the time we arrived.  We checked into our rooms and immediately headed for the entrance to Machu Picchu.

We took a trail that goes up on a mountain side and overlooks Machu Picchu.  The trail was wet and the steps were rough and irregular - some were quite big steps.  Marcos had provided walking sticks for everyone and they were very useful.

From the trail, we could see down into the valley where we arrived by train, and could see the river.  It's a very steep valley.

We came to a place where we could first overlook Machu Picchu.  We were to get better views as we went higher.

We were wearing masks on the walk but took them off, and our hats, for a quick picture.  You can see the water on our jackets

Here's perhaps the best picture I took overlooking Machu Picchu. It is a truly breathtaking place.

Marcos took a group picture overlooking Machu Picchu

From left to right: Tim Zink, Jamie Calcutt, Mary (M.C.) Hart, Gailen Hart, Paula Scafuri, Ralph Scafuri, Judy Henderson, Mike Henderson, Jamie (our guide). Not shown in the picture: Beth Kuzmick and Bob Kuzmick.

Our trail joined the Inca Trail and led to an entrance to the city.  You can see the gate in the center of the picture.

I took a lot of pictures inside Machu Picchu but I can't put them all here - it would be impossible.  Here are a few;

After our visit we went back to the hotel, the Belmond Machu Picchu.  It's a nice hotel but the rooms are quite small.  It's really a convenience hotel - the only hotel at the top, and right next to the entrance to Machu Picchu. 

The Tauck group got together in the bar before dinner.  The bartender was doing tastings and finished with a Pisco sour for everyone.  I think he was happy to have customers.

Judy skipped dinner and I had a light meal.  We were tired and went to bed early.

 

 

Our adventure continues here.