Peru: The Sacred Valley of the Incas
Snapshots from Peru’s Sacred Valley
After our trip to Machu Picchu, we returned on the Hiram Bingham train to Tambo del Inka, our hotel in the Sacred Valley. Located in the middle of Urubamba, the hotel faces the Urubamba River and is a jumping off point for many people looking to explore the region. I was beginning to feel a bit under the weather and Scott had just recovered from his bout of altitude sickness. We decided that our day in the Sacred Valley would be the perfect place to unwind, catch up and prep for our next adventure in the Amazon.
We woke up on Wednesday morning and headed out to explore the grounds. Tambo del Inka is alleged to be one of the top three hotels in all of South America, a gorgeous compound surrounded by the Andes with arguably the nicest rooms we’ve stayed in during this trip. We really knew very little about what to expect from the Sacred Valley. Others that we had met along the way who had stayed here ended up exploring other neighborhoods in the region: Ollantaytambo and Pisac topped the lists. We decided to keep it low key though and explore Urubamba itself. After checking out the hotel grounds (beautiful, to be sure), we crossed the road and began meandering.
We wandered into a bustling area with a local market where locals were selling vegetables, fruits, bread, spices, meats and goods. While many of the streets we had wandered down seemed sleepy, the streets surrounding the main market were booming. The experience we had wandering around, taking in the sights and sounds, was perhaps the most authentic experience we’ve had in Peru to date. In Cusco, I wondered how much of the ‘local garb’ was truly authentic and how much was costume-y in an effort to appeal to tourists. In Urubamba, this wasn’t the case. Looking around the market, we were possibly the only non-locals perusing the stands. We stood out a fair bit, but locals waved and bid us good morning as we walked through. The pictures that I snapped within a half hour period are perhaps the best snapshots I have captured during this trip; more raw and authentic than many places we’ve seen.
Being in the region made us really come to terms with poverty. The juxtaposition of our luxe lodge with the local population that we encountered just across the street was jarring initially, but it was also a very real experience. Watching locals interact, seeing the day-to-day activity and watching children enjoy simple pleasures was eye opening. It was also necessary as we’re about to head to Iquitos, the ‘gateway to the Amazon’. We’ll be visiting an animal orphanage and Belen Market, a place renowned for its authenticity and grime. For many travelers from the developed world, seeing the conditions of locals in remote towns is borderline unbearable. We’ve built in a slow transition to Iquitos and to what will likely be the most interesting experience of all of our town explorations.
Stay tuned! I’ll be sharing photos and stories from the Amazon once we’ve reached civilization again. During the cruise, we’ll be off the radar with no wifi capability. More photos and stories to come next week once we disembark.
xo from Cusco,