Unlike our travels in the United States, our travels in South America have been going by very quickly, as we are never in one place for longer than two to three days. This change in pace has made us seriously exhausted and has been slightly more stressful than we thought. I have tried to plan a lot of our trip in advance, which has had its advantages, but many disadvantages as well, one being that I did not plan well enough to allow enough time for us to do Machu Picchu while in Cusco. This left me very disappointed and we have decided we now have to make it back to Peru one day to do the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.
Anyway, besides not being able to do some of the things we had hoped to in Cusco, we spent a great three days in the city where we really enjoyed walking the pretty streets, eating good vegan food and attempting to converse with some of the local people selling their goods to the many hoards of tourists. The old architecture was really beautiful and the narrow, cobbled streets were fun to explore. We did not really enjoy the backpackers hostel scene too much as we found that many tourists can be pretty damn inconsiderate, rude, loud and obnoxious, and we eventually decided to check out another area of Cusco, about an hour or so away called the Sacred Valley.
I had heard about this children’s home/orphanage in a little town nestled amongst the hills called Urubamba. Initially we wanted to volunteer there and get a chance to meet some of the kids, but they only take on long term volunteers and so we opted to stay two nights at their B&B retreat instead. The home is called Ninos Del Sol and it was a really beautiful place, hidden away from the town, near a small flowing river. They have done an amazing thing taking in a number of children off the street and they have a really awesome story which you can read about here. While we were there we did a 2 hour walk to a less popular attraction called Solinas Del Maras, salt mines which date to pre-Inca times and consist of evaporation ponds in the form of terraces. It was a really unique place to visit and was also great that there were far less tourists around. The light was not great as it was a grey day and so I battled to take any good photographs, but at least we weren’t dying of heat.
The Sacred Valley was definitely one of my favourite areas we visited and the mountains reminded me quite a lot of the Drakensberg Mountain range in South Africa. I was sad to leave so soon as I felt I really connected to the little town and some of the people in it. Something that has been really hard to see and accept is the large amount of stray dogs in Peru. Some look pretty healthy and strong, but many were underfed and looked very lonely. They could do with a number of animal sanctuaries. So far we have loved Peru, especially the people who are mostly very friendly.
We got to eat at this really awesome vegan restaurant up the street from where our hostel was. It is called Green Point. The food was really tasty.
Urubamba in the Sacred Valley
Salinas de Maras