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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 14
Argentina, Brazil and Peru
Day 16
Cuzco - Aguas Calientes
Click HERE to see our photos

Slept well again. Woke at 7, showered and finished packing for today’s excursion to the Sacred Valley (Valle Sagrado.)


After another delicious breakfast we sat at the fireplace and enjoyed the sweet emanation of eucalyptus smoke. We were picked up on time at 9 am by Miguel, one of Jesus’s capable and safe drivers. We loaded our bags and ourselves into Miguel’s taxi and we were on our way north.

On the way to the Sacred Valley.  The Andes rise up behind us.
The Andes on the way to the Sacred Valley

Our first stop was Chinchero, where we were treated to a personal demonstration of Peruvian textile-making by a personable young woman named Jessica (not her Peruvian name but it’s the one she uses for English-speaking visitors.) She was very knowledgeable and the presentation was very interesting and entertaining. We purchased a colorful weaving made with all natural dyes and sheep’s wool by Jessica’s mother.

Peruvian methods of dying wool
The tapestry we bought

Our next stop was Moray where we photographed the impressive Incan agricultural ruins comprised of concentric circles.

Agricultrual ruins at Moray
On the way to the Sacred Valley
Popular form of transportation in the Sacred Valley
On the way to the Sacred Valley
Popular form of transportation in the Sacred Valley

Onward until we came to Las Salinas de Moras where we viewed the pods of evaporating mineral water; the residue that is left behind is pure salt.

Las Salinas de Moras

We continued north until we entered the Sacred Valley at Urubumba. After a few more miles through the Valley we arrived at the train station at Ollantaytambo. It was a most enjoyable and interesting three-hour drive through the gorgeous soaring snow-capped Andes, and we were sad to say adios to our friend Miguel.

Miguel and Carol

At the Ollantaytambo train station, we relaxed at Café Mayu and enjoyed delicious sandwiches and salads.

Cafe Mayu

As we sat in the outdoor waiting area we listened to the sound of the Urubamba River rushing by. Again today, the weather is sunny but cool and breezy.

Train to Macchu Picchu

At 3:30 pm we boarded the west-bound train. We happened to have been given the best two seats on the train – at the very front with an unobstructed picture-window view of the beautiful Andean scenery.

Our seats at the front of the train to Macchu Picchu
Map of the route of the train from Ollantytambo to Aguas Calientes

For the next two hours we watched, exhilarated, as the train slowly descended thousands of feet, following the rapids of the Urubamba River passing through several tunnels carved out of the rugged and steep Andean mountains, and waiting on side rails as other trains passed by, heading to Cusco. Included in the fare was a small snack and Inca Kola. It was interesting to watch the foliage change from the sparse scrub of the highlands to the lush jungle of the lowlands as we descended in altitude.

Andes as seen from our train to Macchu Picchu
Carol's sunscreen on the train to Macchu Picchu
Inca Cola ad

At 5:07 pm we pulled into the station at Aguas Calientes, a town built in the twentieth century to provide food and shelter for the countless visitors to sacred Macho Picchu, 3 kilometers away.  Hiked up a seemingly endless hill with our luggage, thgen checked into our hotel, the La Cabana and rested.

The huge market at Aguas Calientes

The huge market near the train station was reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar. We wandered among the many stalls window-shopping until our stomachs told us it was time to eat. At 7 pm we selected Ohawarina Restaurant and sat outside enjoying Pisco sours, Cusquena (Peruvian beer) and pizza. Fabulous people-watching spot on Av. Pachacutec Mz.

Hotel La Cabana, Aguas Calientes

We have been amazed, and pleasantly surprised, at how many loose, free-roaming (and perhaps feral) dogs we have seen along our travels in South America. Peru, perhaps, can boost the most, and the streets of Cusco and Aguas Calientes are populated with strays of all sizes, colors and breeds. And all of them seem to be as friendly as can be. On our first night in Cusco, as we sat in the Plaza de Armas, a stray came up to me, wagged his tail, rolled on his back so I could pet his stomach, then rolled over, placed his head on my foot and fell asleep. Like Cusco, the alleys of Aguas Calientes are home to countless stray dogs.

Dog in Aguas Calientes
Dog in Aguas Calientes

Our pizza and drinks hit the spot and the people-watching was stellar. It was fun to watch people, particularly folks our age, struggle up the steep climb (all of the streets/alleys seem to go up.) But then it was our turn to hike UP to our hotel, the Hotel La Cabana Machupicchu which seemed to be about as high as one can be in Aguas Calientes, and we huffed and puffed the whole way.

Pisco Sours in Aguas Calientes

Back in our room on the 3 rd floor (no elevators here) we caught our breaths and planned our logistics for tomorrow morning’s excursion to Machu Picchu.


By 9 pm we were sound asleep, dreaming about tomorrow’s magic.


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