I woke up at around 6:15am during our second flight, I looked out the window and I saw mountains, shortly after the pilot announced that we were about to start our descend into the “Imperial city of Cuzco” (this is how Peruvians refer to Cuzco) I get super excited! Every minute we’re a bit closer to Machu Picchu.

After we stepped out of the plane, one of the first things I saw was free coca leaves. Coca leaves are process a certain way to make cocaine, but coca leaves have other uses as well. South Americans make tea, candy and you can chew it to help with altitude sickness. The Incas chewed the leaves to combat headaches, tiredness, and altitude sickness.

Free coca leaves at Cuzco airport

We got a taxi to take us from the Cuzco’s airport to Ollantaytambo, our train was leaving from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes. Since the train wasn’t leaving until 1pm, the taxi driver convinced us to tour the first part of the Sacred Valley. We visited: Chincheros, Maras de Salinas and Moray. The drive alone makes the whole trip worth it.While in Chincheros we visited a textile center, where Andean woman explained how they used multiple roots, leaves, and insects to make colors and that way washed and taint the fiber that comes from Alpacas. We watched how they washed this fiber with a root because they don’t use regular detergents or any chemicals and let me tell you that fiber was washed white.  This got me thinking about the indigenous population and the percentage that have cancer. Everything they use is natural, everything comes from the earth, no harsh chemicals, no industrial processes. It will be interesting to see those statistics if they exist.

Second stop was maras de salinas. This is located in the Urubamba valley about 46 km (28.5 miles) from Cuzco. It has an elevation of 3.38 km (2.1 miles) above sea level. They produced different types of salts in this area, along with salt baths and other products that are salt-based.

Last stop was Moray. This archaeological site has multiple circular terraces. It is thought that this location was an Incan lab where they studied how different temperatures and elevations affected crops such as corn and potatoes. They seemed small in the pictures but they are huge.

Our next stop was the train station at Ollantaytambo. The train ride from Ollantaytambo was about 2 hours and mostly along the Urubamba river. The view of the mountains from the train are breath taking.

We arrived to Machu Picchu pueblo (formerly known as: Aguas Calientes) The town is bigger and more vibrant than what I was expecting. There are several places to dine, spas and hotels for all kind of budgets. we bought our bus tickets for the next morning. Now we are a short 25 minutes bus ride from Machu Picchu.

During our first 24 hours in Peru, we have already seen sooo much of this beautiful country. I just couldn’t wait to finally see Machu Picchu the next morning.



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