This is part two of a trip report which began here.
Like many others we chose Peru as our Adventures by Disney destination because we wanted to go to Machu Picchu. After several days of adjusting to the altitude and learning more about the Incan culture, but our 4th day in the Sacred Valley we were ready to see the much awaited wonder.
We left the hotel by bus, and headed to the Ollantaytambo train station. From there we got on the Peru Rail train to Aguas Calientes, the town nearest to Machu Picchu. The Peru Rail train was comfortable, with two pairs of seats facing each other and a table in between. Because it was the 4th of July, the guides had given out iced muffins specially decorated for the holiday that we enjoyed on the way.
From Aguas Calientes we loaded a bus that would take us up to Machu Picchu. The road up was one-lane (but not one-way!) and very windy. When another bus came in the opposite direction, the passes were quite a nail-biting experience. At the top, we gathered the group together and followed the orange “paddle of power” into the historic site.
According to the stats on my iPhone that day, while exploring Machu Picchu we took 9,840 steps, walked 4.42 miles, and climbed 105 floors. There was a lot to explore there, as it was an entire city in it’s time. I was fascinated to learn about the various sections of the city and what the best guess for their purpose was. It was especially interesting to imagine how all of the granite must have looked when polished up. We explored part of the site in the morning, ate a buffet lunch at the only restaurant up on the mountain, and then came back after lunch to explore again. By the afternoon many of the other tourists had left, and we had a lot more freedom to explore without quite so many people around us.
After we finished at the ruins, we had the option to take the bus back down, or to hike down. My younger daughter and I opted for the windy bus ride, while my husband and older daughter joined the group walking back. They were pretty tired by the end, but proud to say they hiked down the mountain.
After such a big day, we ended with a laid back dinner at the hotel, followed by some star-gazing.
We said goodbye to the Sol y Luna, and headed on the buses on the way to Cusco. Our first stop was Pisac, home to more Incan ruins as well as a market. Our guides gave us a small budget and gave us time to explore the market and purchase a small gift that we would use as part of a white elephant gift exchange at the farewell dinner. In addition to shopping for our little gifts, I found a nice alpaca blanket at the market for a good price.
Our next stop along the way was at the Awana Kancha Camelids Center, where we got to see llamas, alpacas and vicuñas up close. We learned the technique for taking a selfie with them (holding the food over your shoulder), and made several attempts (some more successful than others!). We also got to do a little more upscale shopping.
By the afternoon we had made our way to the city of Cusco, and checked in at our hotel, the historic Palacio del Inka/Libertador. The hotel, which was developed from a historic building, had a quirky layout, but was centrally located, making it a great starting point for exploring the city.
We set out on foot to find dinner on our own, and ended up getting takeout empanadas and eating back in the room because we were pretty tired.
We started our day with another great hotel breakfast. This hotel even had live music to entertain us, and I noted a whole table of gluten free options that they had available for guests.
The group headed up to the Sacsayhuaman fortress. We learned about how carefully the masonry was put together and got a great view of the city from above.
We walked back into town and then had lunch and the rest of the afternoon on our own. We ate lunch at Los Balcones Grill, which was on the main square. It wasn’t quite up to the caliber of food we had been having the rest of the trip, so we probably could have chosen a better option.
With our free time in the afternoon we learned firsthand how chocolate is made at the Choco Museum and then headed to the San Pedro market.
We had dinner back at the hotel, followed by our white elephant gift exchange. I ended up with a cute mini-painting.
We departed Cusco by plane and flew back to one last day in Lima. We drove to the main square in the city and headed to historic Casa Aliaga where we would have our farewell lunch.
After checking back into the Marriott that we had stayed in the first night, we went to explore the Miraflores section of town a little. We ate dinner at the Larcomar shopping center, and then made our way to the famous Miraflores Cat Park (Kennedy Park). This park is home to dozens of super friendly semi-feral cats and will jump on your lap if you sit down. Definitely a must-do experience for pet lovers.
We departed Lima and transited through El Salvador. We had quite an ordeal with a significantly delayed flight due to a late arrival, followed by a massive storm that resulted in the entire airport losing power and delaying our flight further. But eventually we made it home safe and sound, and were excited to start planning for our next ABD trip to Costa Rica.
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