A Taste of Peru: Discover Lima, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Day 11 & 12

Saturday, October 15th, 2022 & Sunday, October 16th, 2022

This will be a quick post because the next two days are mainly traveling!

Today we left Aguas Calientes by train and arrived back to the Ollantaytambo Station where we boarded a bus to take us to Cusco.

Our train

When our bus arrived back to the city center of Cusco we had lunch at a local restaurant and then went to the airport where we grabbed our luggage and reorganized for our flight. It will take a little over an hour for our flight from Cusco to Lima.

Leaving Cusco, Peru

When we arrived in Lima our group and our group leader said goodby. Some of us would be continuing our travels and some would be staying an extra day or two in Lima. Our flight from Lima was scheduled to depart around 11:00 PM to fly to Houston, Texas.

We arrived in Houston around 5:00 AM Sunday morning. We went through customs and said goodbye to our friends, Roseanna from Minnesota and Kathy, from Colorado. We hope to do another adventure together! Once we rechecked our luggage for our flight to Columbus we relaxed in the United Club because we had about six hours before our flight!

We arrived in Columbus on time, collected our luggage and headed home after a fantastic trip to Peru. Road Scholar fulfilled their description of providing a “Taste of Peru: Discover Lima, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu”.

Machu Picchu

A Taste of Peru: Discover Lima, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Day 10

Friday, October 14th, 2022

This morning we checked out of our hotel early and boarded our bus to take us to the train station at Aguas Calientes Station.

We had assigned seats for the train ride which lasted about an hour and a half.

We arrived at Aguas Calientes the town that is considered the “Gateway to Machu Picchu”. Due to its remote location, it’s accessible to tourists only by train. After getting off the train we walked to our hotel to check in and drop off our backbacks and gather whatever we were going to take with us for our visit to Machu Picchu.

Peru is limiting the number of people visiting the site and therefore our tickets were good for the afternoon. Our group leader already had our entry tickets and our bus ticket that would take us up a winding road near the entrance of Machu Picchu.

The line for the mini bus up to the entrance of Machu Picchu was long but moved quickly.

One of the buses that takes passengers up to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

The ride up the mountain to the entrance was slow with switchbacks and steep sides with no guardrails.

When we got off of the bus we went to the Tinkuy Restaurant. It was situated right at the entrance to Machu Picchu and it was the only restaurant there. All other restaurants were 40 minutes away in the valley of Aguas Calientes.

As we were eating lunch the clouds thickened and then the rain cut loose. It was really pouring. Luckily we still had time before our ticket was valid. We relaxed in the restaurant until it was time to go. Luckily we had our rain ponchos with us and when it was time to leave we put them on and got our trekking poles ready. It was still raining but not as hard as it was earlier. The path as we started hiking up was wet and therefore it was slick. You needed to be careful with your steps. We were worried that the cloud cover would be like the picture below and we wouldn’t see anything but the clouds when we got to the top!

We were lucky because the clouds started to clear around the site. Machu Picchu was located between two mountains in the Andes. It covered about 80,000 acres and had about 200 stone structures. It was built by the Inca people about 500 years ago. It was believed that the site was a retreat for Inca royalty. They came here and also it was believed that priests led ceremonies and that common people lived here too. Hiram Bingham was an American explorer who looked for Inca ruins. Locals brought him here in 1911. He was the first person to excavate it. He theorized it was a citadel.

Click through the pictures below to see a collection of photos of the Machu Picchu site.

As we were walking we saw chinchillas on some of the stones. They were native to the Andes mountains.

The Temple of 3 Windows represented each part of the world and was located in the religious sector of the site. They represented the underground, the heaven and the present. The windows also represented the rise of the sun which was an important event in everyday life of the Incas.

Temple of the Three Windows

Agricultural terraces were used along the slopes of the mountains to give the Incas more land to cultivate. Without these terraces, the constant rains, the humidity and the steepness of the area would have triggered large landslides that would have destroyed the ruins of Machu Picchu.

Terraces in Machu Picchu

The Roca Sagrada or Sacred rock was a monolith considered spiritually vital to the native Inca people and was set between two stone shelters. They say it resembled the shape of a guinea pig and others felt it represented the mountains behind it because its shape matched the profile of those mountains. Unfortunately, due to the cloud cover you can’t compare the two with our picture!

Roca Sagrada

The Guardian House had a thatched roof and was a building used by soldiers who guarded two main entrances to Machu Picchu.

It was believed that the carved granite boulders that had a flat bottom were star mirrors. When filled with water it was believed that the Inca astronomer priests tracked the movement of the constellations and planets from the water reflections.

Star Mirrors

The “Stairway of Fountains” was a system of 16 fountains. The water cascaded from one to another. They were square chambers next to a staircase that demonstrated the hydraulic engineering of the Incas.


There was so much to see at Machu Picchu. It would definitely be a site to visit a second time.

After our visit we returned to the valley by the bus again and then walked to our hotel. We had some time to freshen up before we walked to a local restaurant for dinner.

Below was the view outside of our hotel room and the Vilcanota River.

A Taste of Peru: Discover Lima, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Day 9

Thursday, October 13th, 2022

It was another gorgeous day. The views from our hotel were impressive!

Our day began with a bus ride that was about an hour long. On the way we saw Sky Lodge. They were these suites by Skylodge Adventure. They were these transparent luxury capsules. These capsules hung from the side of the mountain in the Sacred Valley of Cusco. You would sleep within a completely transparent hanging bedroom. The capsule was 24 feet in length and 8 feet in height. The lighting system was powered by solar panels and you did have a bathroom that was a dry ecological toilet and sink. The catch was that to sleep in one of these capsules you had to climb 400 feet or get there by ziplines! Definitely not for us!

Our first visit was to the Temple do Ollantaytambo or Ollanta by the locals. It was an ancient Inca temple and fortress as well as a village in Peru. It was located in the northwestern end of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It was a well-preserved Inca ruin. It consisted of four levels that we climbed. We rested after each level due to the altitude.

It was built by the Inca emperor Pachacuti in the 1400’s. It was part of his royal estate and then after his death and the Spanish conquest happened it was a fortress.

The most famous ruin here was the Temple of the Sun or it was also known as the wall of six monoliths. It was the site of several important religious rituals and was made from red granite. These rectangular stone blocks were located in one of the highest areas and it seems that it was not finished.

The stones placed here show that the builders were able to lift the stones and transport them without suffering any damage since it was built on a steep slope. The Incas had quite an understanding of architecture that puzzles the scholars today!

The surrounding views once we climbed to the top of Ollantaytambo.

You can see from some of the pictures below how steep the terraces were.

After visiting the ruins we took a walk around the town of Ollantaytambo. We saw the Inca water aquaducts as well as an original Inca street.

There were hikers who did the 4 day, 3 night Inca trail to Machu Picchu. Much of the trail was original Inca construction. We saw some of the hikers, guides and porters from their overnight stay before they continue on their hike to Machu Picchu. We met some of the hikers later who had completed the Inca trail and they told us it was the hardest thing they had ever done!

We visited a local market in Urubamba, Peru, which was another town in the Sacred Valley. The locals were purchasing their supplies and our group was the only non-locals. It was interesting to walk through and see all the various fruits and vegetables. Look at the slideshow to see the variety of food and supplies in the market.

We enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant and then traveled to Chinchero. Here we visited a local weaving cooperative and had a demonstration of how they washed the alpaca wool, created the yarn spools and dyed the yarn the various colors. The Peruvian woman who work at this cooperative were single mothers.

Weaving was important to the small town of Chinchero. There were many weaving cooperatives. The locals work to preserve the weaving tradition of their ancestors. The town was known for its high-quality woven goods. After our weaving demonstration we had time to shop their handmade woven items and support the women and their children.

The men in our group trying on the brightly woven caps!

After that we went back to the hotel to organize our luggage because tomorrow we would only be able to take a backpack for our overnight in Machu Picchu. The rest of our luggage would be stored.

It was cloudy this evening.

Dinner was at the hotel and then we had a planetarium show. It was a little cloudy/foggy but we did get to see Jupiter and Saturn clearly through the telescope. We then went into the planetarium and our astronomer guide discussed the constellations in the southern sky and pointed them out to us. After that we went back to get some sleep because we had an early start tomorrow.

A Taste of Peru: Discover Lima, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu Day 8

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

It was a gorgeous day as we boarded our bus to ride to the Sacred Valley. The sky was clear and we could see some of the snow-capped Andes mountains.

Our first stop was to the salt mines, Salineras de Maras, nicknamed “the white gold of the Andes”! It was made up of thousands of small pools carved into the side of the mountain. This company produced, extracted, treated, marketed, and exported the salt and/or its derivatives. More than 633 families from this town of Marasal have their own salt pool. These salt mines have been in existence since the time of the Incas.