Today, March 26th, we left Lima to fly into the Andes. We landed in Cusco, which was formerly the center of the entire Incan empire. At over 11,000 feet, the Andes at this altitude take some getting used to, even for experienced skiers like us. Luckily, the locals are prepared for how common this problem is, so there are vendors selling coca candies, and we immediately boarded a bus to drive to Urubamba. everywhere you go, you are also offered tea made from coca to combat altitude sickness. It’s not narcotic, but weirdly, does seem to really help cut the worse affects of altitude sickness (which for us, is usually just a heavy-duty headache).
we left to visit our first Incan monument, the fortress at Ollantaytambo. As we drove, we could see the giant valley the Incas called the Sacred Valley with the Urubamba river running through it.
The town of Ollantaytambo is an ancient one, with the current houses and businesses all still standing atop their Incan stone foundations. The terraced fortress site was amazing, and you could not help but wonder about the advanced civilization that built it!
Yes, Jim and I actually hiked about 2/3 up these stone terraces to get a better view of the Sacred Valley. The things I’ll do to catch the shot even amaze me sometimes!
After we had our fill of Ollantaytambo and its marvels, we returned to our lodge for a show about the spirit world of the Incas and a fine dinner. Tomorrow, Machu Picchu!