Journey through Peru: Machu Picchu

The day had finally come – it was time to see Machu Picchu!  Our morning started early, about 5am. We were staying in Yucay at a wonderful new B&B in the Sacred Valley (Casa de Tres Osos – we highly recommend it!), so we took a taxi from there to the town of Ollantaytambo where we caught the train up to the high jungle.  Unfortunately Cliff and I were still sick, so we were mustering all the strength we could for this trip.  We had come too far to go without seeing one of the 7 Wonders of the World!

The train was really a neat experience.  The riverside that we followed was beautiful and watching the scenery turn from valley to jungle was so cool.

We arrived in Aguas Calientes around 9am and decided to look for a place to grab a little breakfast and some hot tea for our sore throats.

In Aguas Calientes

In Aguas Calientes

We came upon one little restaurant that advertised breakfast and asked the man out front if they were open. He assured us they were and took us up a narrow flight of stairs to an open-air seating area. On the floor was a young man sleeping on a mattress. The man walked up to him, kicked the mattress to wake him and he quickly slid the mattress into the back room and ran to the kitchen to start cleaning. It was one of the strangest things I’ve seen in a restaurant. We were hesitant to order, but the man was persistent, so we did.

Anyways, after a quick bite we went to the bus line and awaited our turn to board. It was a short line since we’d taken time to get food. The bus ride was a 20-minute switchback ride up the mountain. When we got there we found a guide who spoke good English and was willing to go slowly for us with the kids.

Machu Picchu itself is just breathtaking, but when you add in the cloud-shrouded misty mountains surrounding it it’s like something out of Shangri-La.

First view of Machu Picchu

First view of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

Mist-shrouded mountains

Cloud-shrouded mountains

The altitude was high, but it was actually a bit lower than Cusco, and significantly lower than Puno or Arequipa, so we did okay with it. We weren’t able to hike up to the “postcard view” with the kids, but we still managed to get some pretty good pictures :).

Family picture time!

Family picture time!

The kids loved the trails and were fascinated when we came upon the water system cut through the stones. They played in this one place for at least 10 minutes, as tourists stepped over them.

Playing in the water at Machu Picchu

Playing in the water at Machu Picchu

We found that of all the places in Peru we had visited, this place had the lowest tolerance for children. The other tourists who had come were likely making a once-in-a-lifetime trip here and many were looking for a spiritual experience too.

Eating a messy snack on mama's back

Eating a messy snack on mama’s back

The kids were extra fussy that day (probably because they’d been sick off and on the past week) and weren’t cutting us any slack, and neither was anyone else.  At least our guide was super helpful with the kids and even offered to carry our backpack for us!  That was a blessing.  The kids had a great time playing in the rooms of the ruins.

playing in the rooms

playing in the rooms

I even changed Cliff’s dirty diaper in this room – not many people can say they’ve changed a dirty diaper at Machu Picchu!  Ahh, the mom life 🙂

playing

playing

happy camper

happy camper

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

It was amazing to see the detail that went into the creation of this magnificent place.  The stones were cut so evenly, and in the corners you could see how they were laid criss-crossing each other.

stone walls

stone walls

Ready to hike up!

Ready to hike up!

We hiked up to a top part of the ruins and there Cliff was the star of the show with his blonde messy-curly hair.

at the top

at the top

At first just one lady came up and asked for a picture with him, then before we knew it there was a line of a dozen or more young ladies and older women, waiting to take a picture!  We finally had to cut it off and tell them we had to go…it was pretty funny though.

On top of Machu Picchu

On top of Machu Picchu

While we were hiking back down we spotted a funny little mammal related to the chinchilla in the rocks.

Chinchilla-related rodent

Chinchilla-related rodent

John had brought our Texas A&M flag with us, hoping we could grab a pic with it, but it turned out the guards didn’t like the idea, so our guide helped us get one when they went on their lunch break 🙂

Gig 'Em!

Gig ‘Em!

The backside of Machu Picchu

The backside of Machu Picchu

The kids were ecstatic when they saw there were llamas at the ruins.

Llamas in the ruins

Llamas below the ruins

They had a great time watching them and really wanted to go chase them.

Llamas

Llamas

Watching the llamas

Watching the llamas

From there we hiked out of the ruins, the kids were all but finished with the experience, so we just took a different way out to see a few more things.

Hiking out

Hiking out

In front of the "agricultural area" of Machu PIcchu

In front of the “agricultural area” of Machu Picchu

Livi and Daddy

Livi and Daddy

The views were just incredible – and every turn gave a totally different perspective.

View on the way out

View on the way out

It was a really cool day – and even though part of me just wanted to go back to the hotel and sleep, I was thankful we were able to make it up despite being sick.

Advertisements

Journey through Peru: The Sacred Valley

10 days of exhausting, thrilling, and challenging travel had passed since we left our home in Lima. Now it was time to leave Cusco for the Sacred Valley. While we had enjoyed the trip thus far, six hotels in 10 days was a bit fast paced.

Drive to the Sacred Valley

Drive to the Sacred Valley

We were looking forward to getting out to the slow-paced valley and enjoying some down time at a new B&B, Casa de Tres Osos in Yucay. It was perfect. It was just what we needed. Not only were our bodies rested, but our souls were rejuvenated with some quiet time and fellowship with some like-minded new friends.

The Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley

The first night we got to lay out under the stars under thick alpaca blankets and gaze at the amazing galaxy God has created for us. The Milky Way was crystal clear. As we laid there, someone in the village started playing a bamboo flute. Lightning from behind the mountains lit the sky a few times and we saw a shooting star. It was beautiful!

The next day we made the trip into Ollantaytambo to see the magnificent ruins.

The Ollantaytambo Ruins

The Ollantaytambo Ruins

After a wonderful lunch at a local organic restaurant (that gives 100% of their proceeds to a group that cares for the women and children of the highland villages – I was glad to see places like this because we’ve seen there is a huge need for help), we started our hike up to the ruins.

Excited to start the hike!

Excited to start the hike!

The steps were so very steep! Olivia climbed up the first two long stretches of stairs – she was very determined – and counted each step for a while… We met up with our friends from the B&B at the top of the stairs and they took our picture for us.

Family pic at the ruins!

Family pic at the ruins!

Cliff loved finding places to “sit!” and kept inviting Olivia to sit with him.

"Sit"ting at the ruins

“Sit”ting at the ruins

It was very cute. Olivia was promised a brownie after the long stretch of stairs (now that I think of it, maybe that’s where her determination was coming from….) She shared a little with her roly-poly, “Roly”, who was being kept in an old Trader Joe’s mint tin, and then decided he also needed to eat some dirt.

Feeding Roly some brownie

Feeding Roly some brownie

Roly didn’t make it the whole trip. She had a little funeral a ways later, which consisted of a moment of silence, an apology that went something like, “I’m sorry Roly.” and then she squished him into oblivion.

Funeral for Roly Poly

Funeral for Roly Poly

The ruins were absolutely incredible.

Huge stones and doorway

Huge stones and doorway

Trying to imagine how the Inka people cut out these perfectly squared stones and got them on the side of this mountain was just mind boggling!

Sitting on huge carved stones

Sitting on huge carved stones

The view of the valley wasn’t too shabby either.

Checking out the view

Checking out the view

View over Ollantaytambo from the ruins

View over Ollantaytambo from the ruins

We got another quick family picture, thanks to a kind tourist.

In the ruins

In the ruins

Cliff really liked climbing these steps, then just perched himself on the side, content to look around and soak in the view.

Climbing the ruins

Climbing the ruins

Sitting on the steps

Sitting on the steps

The rooms in these ruins let you almost see what life could have been like thousands of years ago on this mountainside.

Checking out a room

Checking out a room

Playing in the ruins

Playing in the ruins

At the top of the ruins

At the top of the ruins

On the way down we had a long hike down more steep steps, and I was thankful for good tennis shoes, and an ergo for Cliff.

Hiking down

Hiking down

When we got to the bottom of the ruins, the littles found the most fascinating thing of the day…pigeons!

Chasing the pigeons

Chasing the pigeons

Oh, and water.

Fascinated by the small waterfall

Fascinated by the small waterfall

It’s the little things, people. It was a great hike – and sure had us excited to see Macchu Picchu the next day!

Journey through Peru: Cusco

If you haven’t already read the previous posts for this trip you can find them here:

Paracas Day 1

Paracas Day 2

Nazca

Colca Canyon

Condor Cross

Lake Titicaca

Continuing with our Journey Through Peru from (quite) a while ago, here is Cusco (I never promised I would blog on time – just that I would blog 😉 )!

Our trip to Cusco started at 10pm. After getting caught in the evening rain of Puno, we packed up once again and made the trek to the bus station. We boarded at 10:00 and were happy to hear that our bus would be arriving earlier than we thought in Cusco. Thanks to a lot of prayers, the kids slept the entire time (although Cliff tossed and turned a lot – still not quite adjusted to the altitude). We arrived in Cusco at 4:30am. We took a taxi on faith to our hotel – praying they would let us check in very early. Sure enough, they did! By the time we got into our room it was 5:30am and they were serving breakfast downstairs. The kids were awake and we decided not to make them go back to sleep on empty tummies. So we had breakfast, went back to bed, and slept the rest of the morning. I was so thankful they got some more rest! That late bus ride had taken it out of all of us. By noon we hit the road to do some exploring – one kid in the Ergo and one in the umbrella stroller.

At the Plaza de Armas

At the Plaza de Armas

The cobblestone streets were challenging to navigate, but our stroller seemed to be holding up so far.

On the way to the Mercado

On the way to the Mercado

In the Plaza de Armas

In the Plaza de Armas

We saw quite a bit in Cusco, but still just barely scratched the surface. It was a much different city than any of the previous cities we’d visited in Peru. It definitely catered to the tourists. There were a lot of expensive souvenir shops, coffee places, and nice restaurants. We did really enjoy the open air market of Cusco – where you could buy a smoothie, some dried habas to snack on, an alpaca cap, and a dead pig for your next barbeque….

Beautiful old church

Beautiful old church

Cusco mamitas

Cusco mamitas in traditional dress

Unfortunately, Cliff got a pretty bad ear infection the first day we were in town, and by the second day I wasn’t feeling too well either.  We were still able to get out a bit, but ended up confined to the room for a good portion of our time there. We managed to enjoy our time as much as we could, got some laundry done (it had been 8 days on the road without washing!), and looked forward to a relaxing 5 days in the Sacred Valley next.